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Nov 12, 2019 3:21 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Thanksgiving Event at St. Mark's Episocpal Church in Westhampton Beach

Nov 12, 2019 3:40 PM

Those resigned to spending Thanksgiving alone need look no further than St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Westhampton Beach for an alternative.

The church’s new interim rector, the Reverend Lesley Hay, has wasted no time reaching out to the community to create a Thanksgiving event so that no one needs to be alone.

The event will be held at St. Mark’s on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, beginning at 1 p.m. Dinner will be prepared by Ms. Hay — who noted her passion for cooking and gastronomy — along with the assistance of the church’s parishioners. Several other churches in the area will be promoting the event to their parishioners.

“What I’m trying to do is make this church relevant to the community,” Ms. Hay said. “It’s not about how many people sit on the pews on Sundays. It’s about, more importantly, to be the church — which these days is all about how you live it in the community.”

The reverend, originally from England, arrived in Westhampton Beach in late August, after spending two years in San Francisco, replacing the Reverend Michael Ralph, who served at St. Mark’s for five years before returning to Ohio in August for family reasons. She will be serving at St. Mark’s for approximately two years to prepare the way for a permanent rector to take her place.

Rev. Hay was formerly a lawyer and an HR consultant. She said the skills she gathered from her past positions have been useful in her current role at the church.

The reverend said she sees so much potential in the community. “There’s a lot of work to do here, and the people have been wonderfully responsive,” she said. “We’re going to be doing more outreach initiatives. That’s what I do — outreach. They don’t do that here, so that’s why I’m here — to say we need to do more of this.”

Ms. Hay said she familiarized herself with the Westhampton area by visiting with the other ministers of the local churches, to recruit them to be involved in the Thanksgiving dinner and encourage their parishioners to attend.

“They’re all going to promote it, and the idea is that people who would otherwise be on their own for Thanksgiving, they can come here, and we’re going to cook dinner for them,” she said.

Local churches promoting the event include the Westhampton Presbyterian Church, the Westhampton Community Church and the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church.

The Reverend Vanessa Winters of Westhampton Presbyterian Church supports the event hosted by St. Mark’s. “I think this is a wonderful event and a great way to reach out into the community,” she said. “Many folks in our churches don’t have anywhere specific to go for the holiday, or don’t have the energy to cook an entire meal. So this is a wonderful opportunity for them to celebrate with others.”

Ms. Winters also mentioned that the Westhampton churches are having an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service on Sunday, November 24, at 3 p.m. The service will be hosted at Westhampton Presbyterian Church, and other participating churches include Westhampton Beach United Methodist Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Westhampton Community Church, and St. Paul AME Zion Church.

Throughout the last few weeks, Rev. Hay has been spending her time visiting local grocery stores asking for donations for the Thanksgiving dinner. “I’m shameless about going to the grocery stores and saying, ‘Can you donate stuff for the event?’ I’ve got two turkeys already donated by Gala Farms in Riverhead — you know, that’s quite valuable stuff.”

Those wishing to donate to the Thanksgiving event, can call St. Mark’s at 631-288-2111 and ask for Rev. Hay.

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