By Drake Cromer-Moore, Outreach Pastor, Meizon Church
During the global pandemic of 2020, Meizon Mission started as an online church creating services and devotionals for people displaced by the many disruptive events of that year. In 2023, Meizon Mission found alignment with First Christian Church of Gainesville, a church that has been actively present in our city for over 100 years. Affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), First Christian Church merged with Meizon Mission and together we look into the next century, unified together, as Meizon Church.
At Meizon Church, we believe, just like the Backstreet Boys, that no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you’ve done, that you deserve to belong. One of Meizon Church’s core values is “Belong.” While a lot of churches and organizations use “belong” in their outward facing media and marketing, seldom do they grasp what belonging truly means. At Meizon, we believe you belong with no strings attached, you don’t need to believe exactly what we do, or become anything special before you belong.
As social and political tensions have risen across the state, these tensions have been especially felt within the LGBTQIA+ community. From bills that determine where people may use the bathroom to bills which legislate which pronouns we may use, it has been a rough year for many people. We feel that Christian churches are called to unity and love. We also recognize that the Church has not always provided a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community. We also acknowledge that not all churches currently provide safe spaces. At Meizon Church, we strive to be on the frontlines, standing against injustice. Hopefully, our efforts might begin to change the perspective of the LGTQIA+ community within the Church and of the Church within the LGBTQIA+ community.
As a community at Meizon, we are celebratory of LGBTQIA+ persons and the queer community. With LGBTQIA+ folks in our leadership, in vital volunteer positions, and in attendance, we recognize just how painful the holidays can be for those who have nowhere to go. Many members of the LGBTQIA+ community are disinvited and left out of their family’s gatherings, simply for being themselves. If this happens to be part of your story, we are so sorry that you’ve had to face that kind of rejection. You deserve so much more. You deserve to belong, just as you are. There’s a seat for you at our event, Thanksgiving Together. Maybe this type of rejection isn’t something you’ve faced, but you’d like to help create a place for others who may have experienced this. We invite you to pull up a chair.
The Bull, located at 18 SW 1st Avenue, on the brick streetery between Main St and 1st St in downtown Gainesville, has graciously agreed to host Thanksgiving Together. Rain or shine, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be provided in this untraditional space from 4-6pm on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 23). Then, from 6-8pm, the event will showcase local bands and vendors. It is our hope that you will laugh, smile, and grow closer to the Gainesville community at Thanksgiving Together. We are aiming to feed up to 300 people. If you would like to attend, let us know you’re coming! Click the “Let’s have thanksgiving together button” on the Thanksgiving Together Website (Meizonchurch.com/Together).
We want to give back to our community by providing a space for everyone to belong this Thanksgiving, and we need your help! If you’re a business owner who would like to sponsor the event, or an individual who’d like to volunteer, please reach out to Drake@MeizonChurch.com. Thanksgiving Together isn’t solely aimed at the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s also for the college kid who just can’t make it back home and the single person who is new in town, anyone who needs a place to be. It is our hope that through this event, folks who otherwise would be alone on Thanksgiving day, will find a chosen family and community.
We can’t wait to have Thanksgiving Together!