November 22, 2013 - 12:00 AM

LAHARPE — Residents who otherwise would be alone on Thanksgiving Day may feast on turkey and all that goes with a traditional holiday meal Thursday at City Hall, thanks to LaHarpe Baptist Mission.
“We will provide the turkey and volunteers are bringing side dishes,” said Debbie Bearden. “Some people have asked if it’s potluck. It’s not, but if someone has a favorite dish they’d like to bring, that would be fine.”
Serving will start at 11:30 a.m. and continue until 1:30 p.m. Carry-out meals will be delivered to shut-ins, who may make a request by calling Bearden at 620-228-3069.
This is the third Thanksgiving Day feast the Baptist Mission has offered to the community, but the first in which it has independently provided food. Iola’s First Baptist Church previously had a supportive role.

BEARDEN and husband Duwayne helped plant the mission, an outreach of Iola’s First Baptist Church in 2010. He preaches each Sunday.
“We first started inviting people to services at the old Methodist Church just north of City Hall (originally LaHarpe Elementary School) in the fall and winter of 2010,” Bearden said. “We had our first vacation Bible school the next June.”
With financial support from the Iola Baptists, the mission had use of the former Methodist Church. After a year, congregants purchased the old Christian Church on Main Street, again with First Baptist’s assistance.
The mission has seen steady growth — 18 have been baptized this year and a baptismal service in scheduled in December — with about 35 attending most Sunday services.
Iola’s Fellowship Regional Church also gave a hand when the Mission moved to the former LaHarpe Christian Church. FRC donated pews and a sound system from the old Grace Southern Baptist Church, 214 W. Madison, when it moved to the building and redid its interior.
“We also have an active Wednesday night youth program, with more than 20 kids most weeks,” Bearden said. “The youths will provide music for the Thanksgiving community meal.”
Contact Bob Johnson by email at [email protected].