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By Tim Nielsen, Director of Ministry Services

In 1621, the Plymouth colonist and the Wampanoag Native Americans celebrated what is thought to be the first Thanksgiving feast in the colonies. Over 200 years later, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated each November.

I love the three “F’s” of the Thanksgiving holiday…Food, Family, and Freedom. I confess, I immediately think about the food. I am getting hungry just thinking about turkey, gravy, potatoes, stuffing, and several different types of pie! I think it is very appropriate to connect Thanksgiving Day with a love of good food. In its origin, this celebration is linked to the success of a harvest season. However, that is not the only aspect of this great American Holiday.

Thanksgiving is often a holiday that brings family together. Many Americans hunker down at home, pull out the board games and puzzles, watch the parades, and enjoy watching football games together. If you enjoy spending time with family, Thanksgiving is typically memorable; the kind that keeps you telling Thanksgiving stories for years.

We tend to forget that the Plymouth colonist were also celebrating their newfound religious freedom. They took great risks to leave England and move to the wild, undeveloped North American colonies. Approximately half of the colonist died before the first Thanksgiving dinner. The risks that they took for their religious freedom still impact us today.

In this Covid-19 season, Thanksgiving may look a little different than in the past. Like the Plymouth colonist, we may be mourning the loss of family members and friends. We are living in a world that is different than it was 12 months ago. Travel is limited and this may reduce the number of family members around the dinner table. And, we still face a great deal of uncertainty. Nonetheless, I want to encourage us to continue to celebrate the 3F’s of Thanksgiving: Food, Family, Freedom.

FOOD – I am incredibly thankful that there has been food in the grocery stores throughout this world-wide pandemic. Sure, some items were hard to come by and toilet paper was as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster, but our needs were met. Be thankful to God for the food on our tables and for the farmers, distributors, truck drivers, and grocery store employees that worked hard to make it available to us!

FAMILY – The Covid-19 season has been challenging for many people, there have also been blessings. Many families have expressed the value of family dinners, time together and a lack of distractions. Others are thankful for today’s technology that allow us to video callwith family members who are unable to be with us due to health concerns or physical distance. And, who would have believed that our church families would be regularly attending Sunday worship services on a laptop in the living room? Be thankful to God for your family, both biological and spiritual, this season.

FREEDOM – Yes, Covid-19 has limited our activities, but it has not taken away our freedom! If anything, it has encouraged us to exercise our freedom to engage the Lord in prayer. It should also remind us that we are free from sin and death! And, we are free from fear because we hold on to a hope of an eternity with Jesus! This Thanksgiving season, be thankful to God for the freedom that He has given you in giving us His son, Jesus Christ.

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday full of prayers of Thanksgiving! Enjoy the meal, the fellowship, and celebrate with Thanksgiving in your heart.

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise!” Psalms 48:1

Tim Nielsen

Tim Nielsen joined our team in 2019 and his been in Christian camping for over 30 years. He previously directed Camp Sandy Cove in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. As a child, Tim attended Brookwoods for a few summers and has maintained a connection with us ever since. Tim loves the recreational elements of the camp experience and values the impact that they can have on the camper, staff member, and guest. Tim’s wife, Adina, is also passionate about camp (yep, they met at Sandy Cove). They have two young daughters, Dagny and Tilba, who are growing up as Deer Runners! Get in touch via email,


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