Children's Choir
At the 2014 interfaith Thanksgiving service, a children’s choir sang at The Park Church. (Photo: MARK HAMES, The Charlotte Observer)

Calls for peace and racial reconciliation will take center stage Tuesday night when MeckMin hosts Charlotte’s 40th annual interfaith Thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Baptist Church, 1401 Allen St.

The citywide event will begin at 6:45 p.m. with a musical prelude. At 7 p.m., the actual service will start, bringing together an expected crowd of about 1,500 representing various faiths.

After a year of turmoil and tragedy, including the shootings last June at a historic African-American church in Charleston, the prayers, music, readings and sermon will focus on the need for peace.

This year’s theme is “Wilderness & Hope.”

“This is the 40th anniversary, and 40 is a pretty important number in some religious traditions, often referring to a time in the wilderness, a time of discernment,” said the Rev. Danny Trapp, executive director of MeckMin. “And after that (time in the wilderness), there’s hope for something better – that’s a big theme through Scripture.”

Music will be provided by two interfaith choirs – one with adults, one with children. And offering the sermon will be a preacher from Baltimore: The Rev. Todd Yeary, pastor of Douglas Memorial Community Church. He’s been a stabilizing presence during the unrest that happened in Baltimore after the death of an unarmed black man arrested by police.

As always, attendees are asked to bring canned goods for the hungry, to be distributed by Loaves & Fishes, and gloves, mittens, socks and coats for Crisis Assistance Ministry, which also helps the needy pay rent and utility bills. This year’s offering will be split between Crisis Assistance Ministry and MeckMin, an interfaith group of about 100 member congregations.

MeckMin has organized the popular “We Need to Talk” community dialogues this year. But it is still struggling financially.

At the end of Tuesday night’s service, expected to last an hour or so, there will be a call to action by Rabbi Judy Schindler of Temple Beth El and the Rev. Jay Leach of Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte. Their predecessors opened the first interfaith Thanksgiving service 40 years ago.

A reception will follow at 8:15 p.m. Those looking to answer the call to action can speak with representatives from four community organizations: Crisis Assistance Ministry, Loaves & Fishes, Freedom School Partners, and Charlotte Family Housing.

The service will be live streamed at