Tonawanda News

November 8, 2013

An invitation to dinner

By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — When the new iHope Community Church opened in September, lead pastor Matthew Richbart spoke about how he wanted the church to be “a real community church,” with frequent outreach events and an atmosphere of family.

On Thanksgiving Day, the church congregation will take another step on that path, opening the doors of the 119-year-old building on the corner of Thompson and Bryant streets for anyone who would like a place to celebrate the holiday.

The church will host a free Thanksgiving dinner at 2 p.m. Nov. 28 at 316 Thompson St., North Tonawanda. Families or individuals can register for the event by calling 909-2866 or emailing There is no deadline, Richbart said.

“We just want to meet the physical needs of people in North Tonawanda, to help them feel connected and part of a family,” he said. “We just want to share the love of Jesus.”

The event will include a traditional holiday dinner with turkey, stuffing, pies and more. Church members Phyllis and Matt Brown have been collecting donations and overseeing the planning and cooking arrangements, with other members helping with serving and decorating.

Phyllis Brown of North Tonawanda said that so far, there are about 30 people signed up for the dinner, plus volunteers at the church. They’re ready for far more, she said: Her husband is a chef who’s cooked at a number of locations, and for up to 5,000 people at a time.

“There are a lot of elderly people, a lot of people with disabilities (in the area). Or some people just don’t want to cook. Get your kids and come join us for a good, free dinner.”

Richbart said the church members will serve as many people as they can, and anyone is welcome.

“Just for the fellowship or for the food,” he said. “Anyone in the community who wants a place to spend Thanksgiving, we want to be a service to them.”

IF YOU GO • WHAT: Thanksgiving dinner • WHEN: 2 p.m. Nov. 28 • WHERE: iHope Community Church, 316 Thompson St., North Tonawanda • TO REGISTER: Call 909-2866 or email • FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit