West Memphis church hosts steak dinner for first responders to show appreciation, unity

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — At the Bethel AME Church fellowship hall there was a show of gratitude for special guests Wednesday.

Bethel AME hosted a first responder’s appreciation day for the police and sheriff’s department, firefighters, state troopers and emergency medical technicians.

“It says that we are good and respected in the community,” West Memphis police chief E.C. West said.

“With the rioting and protest, we’re trying to keep things peaceful, and when we meet with the churches, and they show us the love and what they do for us, it touches the heart,” Crittenden County Sheriff’s Department chief George Blair said.

That appreciation day included a t-bone steak dinner with all the trimmings to feed the soul and show appreciation for West Memphis first responders.

“The first responders lay their lives on the line daily for us, and we never know when they’re going to have to come to our rescue, and often times people don’t say thank you, so we felt this was a good time for us to recognize them,” Bethel AME pastor Larry Banks said.

The congregation, along with Second Saint John Church and others, wanted to thank first responders for their work in the COVID-19 pandemic and as a show of goodwill during racial unrest and protests.

“People of all races are coming together to cry out about an injustice, and this right here today is going to show our first responders are many colors and are accepted by all,” Second Saint John pastor Stephen Chitman said. “I think that’s important today.”

On this day, kindness and fellowship were served up one plate at a time to help nourish the soul of a city.

“I believe this is the work God desires for us to do,’ Chitman said.

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