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Come one, come all to Christmas feast

Bethlehem Lutheran Church hosting community meal Saturday
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal features editor
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All you want for Christmas is a tasty meal? Bethlehem Lutheran Church is ready to fulfill that holiday wish. Volunteers are once again cooking up a community Christmas dinner, to be served 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, at the church. Turkey and all the fixings are offered free of charge to anyone and everyone, said David Raught, who, along with his sister, has been coordinating this event for a couple decades. “There was a gentleman in our church who realized we do a lot of things around the community for Thanksgiving, but nobody was doing anything for Christmas, so we took it upon ourselves to get something started,” Raught said. It makes perfect sense that this particular church would do such a thing, said Pastor Bryon Hansen — “Bethlehem” means “house of bread.” “It’s a very tangible way of sharing bread and giving bread to the community,” he said. Volunteers serve meals on site but also package up and deliver meals to homebound Auburn residents. Of the more than 400 meals served last year, about 250 were delivered, Raught said. What’s for supper? You’ll get everything from turkey and stuffing to vegetables and pies and even Jell-o. “We’re a Lutheran church, after all,” Raught said, joking about the jiggly treat. Bethlehem volunteers get help from other churches, including Sierra Grace Fellowship—they’ve got the stuffing covered—and Pioneer United Methodist Church, which takes care of mashed potatoes. “We’re hosting it, but it’s really nondenominational,” Raught said. “It’s an all-around experience, and we’ve always invited other people to send people to help.” Melinda Robinson of Pioneer United Methodist Church expects volunteers to show up at 8 a.m. Saturday to start cooking. “They start peeling and boiling and mashing,” she said. Anyone is welcome to help out, especially if they show up with a potato peeler. The Methodist crew will be working with 150 pounds of potatoes, two gallons of milk and eight pounds of butter. Not much, other than the peels, goes to waste, as even the cooking liquid is reserved for the gravy. “It’s become quite a tradition for a lot of our families,” Robinson said of making mashed potatoes for the meal. Those who would like to help out on Christmas Day are welcome to come over to Bethlehem around noon Saturday “and we’ll find something for them to do,” Raught said. Whether or not you chip in, just remember that everyone’s welcome. “This is open to everyone and this is for anyone who would like to be with someone else on Christmas Day,” Raught said. “They can come down and join what I consider our family at the church. It’s what Christmas is about.” Reach Loryll Nicolaisen at lorylln@goldcountrymedia.com __________ Community Christmas dinner When: 2-4 p.m. Saturday; doors open at noon Where: Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 1279 High St., Auburn Cost: Free Information: (530) 885-4515 Good to know: Homebound residents can request a meal delivery by calling the church at (530) 885-4515 by 2 p.m. Friday. Request a ride to dinner by calling the same number.