By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
It’s been a few years since there’s been a Christmas dinner at Church of the Open Arms, but this year, it’s back.
On Christmas Day, Thursday, Dec. 25 at 2 p.m., COA will host the Christmas at Open Arms Potluck at 3131 N. Pennsylvania Ave., in Oklahoma City. The event is free and everyone is invited.
Longtime COA church leaders and Sunday morning Community Café organizers Kenny Wright Bass and Barry “Bo” Wright Bass have been busy coordinating the event.
“The Christmas potluck began out of the necessity to give everyone a place to go at Christmas,” said Kenny, former COA president.
“Many people find themselves spending the day alone or they tend to spend it at a bar.”
This year, Kenny and Bo are planning another option for Christmas Day.
“Everyone needs a place to call home at Christmas. In our world, that place is the Church of the Open Arms,” Kenny said. “The dinner was created for everyone in the area. No charge and no judgment. Jesus turned no one away and neither will we.”
In order to be ready in time, Kenny and other church members began posting a list of dishes that they would be bringing on the facebook event page he created to announce the dinner.
“Just think Christmas,” was Kenny’s simple message.
The request went out for sweets, side dishes, along with turkeys and hams.
“We usually do two good-sized turkeys and one good-sized ham,” Kenny said.
COA volunteer Ron Basbant and Kenny will be doing the cooking, while others are invited to bring side dishes if they wish.
“Our first dinner was held back when we had the big blizzard on Christmas day,” Kenny recalled. “It was fully supplied and cooked by my husband, Bo Bass and myself. The turn out was absolutely incredible.
“I’m not sure how many of us got stuck leaving the parking lot, but getting people unstuck and rolling was more fun than it was effort.”
Upon reflection, not having a Christmas dinner at COA just didn’t feel right to Kenny and Bo.
“This year has been extremely hectic, emotional, and stressful for Bo and me, but things have always worked out,” Kenny said. “We have been reminded of our blessings and have been moved to start inviting friends and family to join in the celebration of the birth of Christ.
“It is a Christmas potluck – that does not mean that if you’re not able to bring anything, you shouldn’t come. Everyone is welcome… side dish or not.”
COA welcomes all persons regardless of color, ancestry, age, gender, sexual or affection orientation, ethnicity, national origin, disability, familial status, or political perspective.
“We absolutely love the feelings that have been shared at past Open Arms Christmas dinners,” Kenny said. “Those who would like to are invited to stay afterward to play games. It will be a great afternoon and great Christmas.
“This is truly for all who want a place to go. That includes that guy you saw begging on the side of the street… and that guy that’s ducking beneath the overpass… this is for them.”
Church of the Open Arms has a long tradition of providing food to those in need. A distribution point for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, the COA food pantry is open from 4 – 6 p.m. each Friday.
“I see people coming in for food each Friday,” said Bo, one of the weekly food pantry organizers.
“Since the food pantry is closed on the Friday before Christmas I would like for them to know that they have somewhere to go to get a full belly on Christmas Day and that they don’t have to spend Christmas alone. It’s what we’re supposed to do.”
The food pantry will resume on Jan. 9.
For more information, call 405-525-9555 or visit openarms.org