More than 600 are expected to attend annual holiday meal at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Jackson School Road.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Members of the Interfaith Choir practice at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, led by DeAnne Dewey. DeAnne Dewey stands at the forefront of a group of singers at the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints on Jackson School Road. The choir director raises her hands and the singers begin the first few notes of "Homeward Bound."

The choir is practicing hard for this weekend's Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner, the 20th annual event, hosted by Family Promise of Washington County and the Inter-faith Hospitality Network.

Dewey has been at the helm of the Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration and Fellowship Meal for two decades.

"After I was asked to be a part of this, I was hooked," she said.

As many as 600 people are expected at this year's dinner, planned for Sunday, Nov. 18 at 5 p.m., at the church, 2020 N.E. Jackson School Road in Hillsboro.

The men and women come from all walks of life, representing more than 30 religions, Dewey said.

"We do it year after year," Dewey said. "We say, 'We are so much more alike than we are different. Let's be friends.'"

No matter your faith, everyone is invited to spend the evening together for a night that is about sharing, she said.

"It has been a pretty amazing experience," Dewey said. "Once you've had it, you think there is no other way to spend Thanksgiving. We ask all these faiths to come together and everyone takes a minute or two, and I tell them to take this time to give everyone a chance to do a reading, quote or scripture or anything from their faith that represents the theme for that year."

The meal lasts for about an hour, and Dewey said while the groups who attend may change every year, the menu is always the same: Vegetarian soups with no meat to be inclusive as possible, rolls and pies.

"In coming together every year, we build relationships with all these different faiths," Dewey said. "We are bridge builders, so we don't have problems with hate. We feel like we break down walls and build bridges with these faith communities."

Throughout the night, the interfaith choir sings at the event to provide entertainment for the evening, singing a handful of well-known songs like "America the Beautiful."

"Anyone who can sing can come and join in," Dewey said. "No matter what we believe. We gather and give thanks."

This year, members of several worship centers from across the Portland area will be in attendance, including members from the Banks and Cornelius United Methodist churches, the United of Christ churches in Beaverton and Forest Grove, Bilal Masjid Mosque in Beaverton and Chinmaya Mission Hindu temple in Hillsboro, as well as local Zen Buddhist temples, Dewey said.

The dinner will also serve as a fundraiser to help area homeless, Dewey said.

Family Promise of Washington County, which hosts the annual event, provides food, shelter and support services to area homeless. Family Promise Executive Director Annie Heart will be at Sunday's dinner to speak about families in need and work done to address homelessness in the Hillsboro area.

Editor's Note: In a previous version of this article and in the print edition, the lead misspelled and misattributed Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints.

By Janae Easlon
Features Editor
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
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