Members of the Jefferson City church gathered Wednesday morning to give thanks during the annual prayer breakfast.
The 43rd Annual Breakfast of the Jefferson City, Cole County Chamber of Commerce Parish Council was hosted at the Missouri Farm Bureau and included presentations by Bishop Shawn McKnight of the Diocese of Jefferson City and local Senator Mike Bernskoetter.
McKnight pointed to the country’s early Thanksgiving celebrations as an example of unity and camaraderie that he believes are so important to the country’s history.
“We were taught to celebrate the beginning of a new era and to be an ideal example of harmony between peoples of different cultures, religions and languages,” he said. “We celebrated the communion that existed between the pilgrims and the indigenous people who helped each other to thrive. And this is a noble part of our history, which we have formed into a union of states. It is good that as a country we are taking a break from life’s rat race to remember our own humble beginnings.”
McKnight was referring to the biblical story in which Jesus healed a group of lepers, and one immediately repented to give thanks for the miracle. He challenged participants to express gratitude for the blessings in their own lives, including their involvement in a close-knit community and any opportunities available to give back.
“Gratitude is a sign of faith, a sign of salvation that has come to us with hearts and minds filled with gratitude. There is no room for entitlement in our relationship with God or with one another,” McKnight said. “When we choose to be grateful in our actions—putting the needs of others ahead of our own, even though we may not feel grateful at the time—those actions transform us and those around us.
“As I speak to you this morning, I am grateful for the gift of my faith, my church, my family and friends, and our gem of a church here in Mid-Missouri, and the gift of our country. Now that despite what I find difficult and challenging in the world, in my family and circle of friends, and even in my church and in myself, I choose to count my blessings and thank God for all the good that gives it.”
Bernskoetter, who also served as a sponsor of the event, emphasized the community’s willingness to come together and serve others. He credited groups like The Salvation Army, Central Missouri Foster and Adoption Nursing, Coyote Hill and local churches for the work they do in the community around the holidays and throughout the year.
“We have so many great organizations: The Salvation Army is helping people, and even the church I belong to is having Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. So there’s always a place someone can go. The Marine Corps has toys for toddlers, and they’re always willing to help anyone who needs a toy,” Bernskoetter said. “There’s just so many things to be thankful for.” William Clement Stone once said: “What do you do when you’re grateful? .’ And that’s what our community does. You are so caring and sharing and that’s why I appreciate everything you do.
Legends Bank also served as a sponsor, with President John Klebba touting the tradition as a way to come together and honor one another and the community.
“It’s refreshing for people to put aside their political, religious, philosophical and other differences, if only for a moment, to come together in prayer and thanksgiving for all of God’s blessings,” Klebba said. “Thank you to the Cole County Communities Committee for organizing this breakfast and allowing me to attend. May the goodwill arising from this event flow throughout the holiday season and make it a truly joyful holiday season for all of us. “
The committee also honored Wes and Bethany Prenger as Cole County Family of the Year. The Prengers have been farmers all their lives, Smith said, and live with their children on a century farm near Wardsville, where they raise corn, soybeans, cattle and sheep.
This year’s breakfast was again hosted by KRCG’s Rod Smith, who has been involved with the event since 2008. The Buffington Brothers provided music for the morning, singing both the national anthem and a musical rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. Members of Russellville High School FFA also volunteered to help serve the morning meal.
The event returned to Farm Bureau last year after a virtual outing amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and Bernskoetter and Smith said it was good to meet again in person before the holidays. It takes place every year on the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving.