Thanksgiving Service Tradition

Have you ever wondered how our church’s Thanksgiving tradition began?

Harvest Display 2016
“All is safely gathered in, now let the winter storms begin” words to a familiar Hymn has set the tone for 83 years the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Bernhard Laursen, a Dane who had immigrated to Boston and became a citizen, came to teach and work at Asheville Farm School in 1931.  He began the tradition of “gathering in” for the Church’s Thanksgiving service in 1933.  At that time, the school was holding its church services in the parlor of Sunderland, the men’s dormitory.  He brought in a shock of corn, several grains, potatoes, apples, and other produce grown on the farm as a display for the service, the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  As the farm manager, he felt that sharing the visual aspect of the harvest would add to the air of thanksgiving.  He continued the tradition until his retirement in 1956 and his son Ernst became the farm manager.

Ernst continued the tradition until his retirement in 1996.  The students on the farm crew were always involved in the “gathering in from the fields”, the gathering of animals and the creation of the display each year.

Beginning in the 1940’s the Churches of the Swannanoa Valley met together in the decorated chapel for services Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving with the different churches taking part in the service.  This practice continued until the mid 1960’s.

This year, we continue to “gather in” on November 19 at our 11:00 service of worship. We would ask all who would like to bring items to place at the front of the church during the offertory, to bring canned goods that will be distributed to the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry.

Join us for this special gathering in the sanctuary, and make sure to thank the student crews for all their hard work!