The Combined Community Choir performs during the community Thanksgiving service Sunday, Nov. 23, at the Otsego High School Performing Arts Center. The praise team led those in attendance in several songs throughout the evening.The First United Methodist Church of Plainwell's bell choir performed at the service.Uniformed members of community veterans groups stood onstage as First Congregational Church of Otsego’s Pastor Darin Youngs (left) prayed for veterans and active duty military.

Otsego, Plainwell gives thanks to community

Kayla Deneau, Staff Writer

Otsego and Plainwell residents filled the seats at Otsego High School’s performing arts center Sunday, Nov. 23, for the community Thanksgiving service.

Area churches including Otsego United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church of Otsego, First Congre-gational Church of Otsego, St. Margaret Catholic Church, Alamo Congre-gational Church, Plainwell’s Hope Lutheran Church, First United Methodist Church of Plainwell, Plainwell’s Friend­­ship Wesleyan Church and the Plainwell Assembly of God organize the service each year.

Otsego United Methodist Church’s pastor Joe Shaler said the non-denominational service is designed to give thanks to all aspects of the community.

“We pray for elected officials, service organizations, for the military and veterans, community development organizations, the economy, educators, public safety and the community as a whole,” he said.

Representatives from the churches led prayers for various community groups.

Performances by a combined community choir, community praise group and the First United Methodist Church of Plainwell took place between prayers and speakers representing both the Plainwell and Otsego communities.

“The service is organized by the local churches, but we want to include everyone in the community,” Shaler said. “It has evolved greatly over the course of about seven years.”

He said originally approximately three or four Otsego churches planned the service.

“One year, we decided to include Plainwell, and it continued to grow,” said Shaler. “It outgrew all area churches, so we began renting the performing arts center about three years ago.”

The First Baptist Church of Plainwell’s pastor George Osborn said being in-volved in the service was a great experience.

Osborn is new to the community, starting at the church this past spring.

“It was great,” he said. “I got to introduce myself to the community and I look forward to next year and being a part of it again.”

Shaler said the work to put together the service can sometimes be overwhelming, but he is inspired by community members to continue.

“One of my big inspirations for really pushing and doing this has been (Otsego’s) Mayor Tom Gilmore,” he said. “When we first invited him, he came and wrote the Plainwell/ Otsego Thanksgiving Covenant. His commitment to the service is very inspiring.”

Osborn said he believes the service is very important to the two cities.

He said, “It shows that even amongst all of our differences, we are united under Christ. I think that is the biggest thing the service communicates to the community and the biggest thing the community appreciates.”


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