For many, 2017 has been a challenging year.

Whether it is facing health issues, loss of loved ones or a lack of employment, the past several months have led some to say they can’t wait for this year to just be over.

In addition to countless reports of shootings, hurricanes and the ever widening political rift in this country, closer to home people have dealt with their own natural disasters, including a spring hail storm that wreaked havoc throughout the area and two major rainstorms, including one that left nine inches of rain in less than a day.

How does one cope with all of that?

For a group of Redwood area congregations, the answer is in a change of perspective. Local pastors want people to see that even though there have been trying times, there have also been good things that have happened along the way. 

Helping them see and appreciate those good things and the God who offers them is the idea behind a new Thanksgiving worship service being held this Wednesday night.

The service, which is being held at the Evangelical Free Church in Redwood Falls (on Bridge Street next to the Pizza Ranch), starts at 6 p.m. and will include time for praise and sharing.

“We wanted to offer a time for people to focus on the things they are thankful for in the midst of the tragedies in their lives,” said Marcus Kendall, Cornerstone Church pastor. “This service is open to everyone. We want this to be an opportunity for the community to come together.”

According to Ron Partridge, Redwood Falls Assembly of God pastor, the intent of the service is to be focused on God as our protector, provider and healer.

“The whole idea is to focus on what God has done and to remember to thank him for that,” added Partridge.

A praise band made up of musicians from area congregations and faith organizations will lead those who attend in worship, and a time will be provided for people to share their stories of how God has been involved in their lives.

Kendall said it is a time to testify to the goodness of God and to focus on those positive things in our lives – even if it is for a brief period of time.

The service is scheduled to last about an hour, and will help offer focus as families gather the next day for Thanksgiving.

Partridge said to his knowledge a service like this has not happened in the community – at least not in the recent past.

Kendall added the hope is to make this an annual part of the season. A free-will offering will be taken as part of the service, with the money given donated to the Salvation Army.

“The Salvation Army does a lot of good things to help people in our community who are in need,” said Kendall, adding it just felt appropriate to take an offering for that work. Everyone is encouraged to attend.

In addition to the community service, a number of churches in town have scheduled their own thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day services.

The list includes:

• St. John Lutheran Church in Redwood Falls will hold a service Nov. 22 at 7 p.m., as well as a Thanksgiving Day service Nov. 23 at 9 a.m.

• Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Redwood Falls will host a Thanksgiving Eve service Nov. 22 starting at 6:30 p.m.

• Christ’s Victory Lutheran Church in Redwood Falls will hold a service Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. with a pie social and fellowship to follow. There will also be a special offering food drive held.

• St. John Lutheran Church in Vesta will hold a service Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.

• Peace Lutheran Church in Echo will worship Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 23) at 9 a.m.

• A joint Thanksgiving service for Morgan United Methodist, St. John Lutheran of Morgan and St. Luke Lutheran church at St. Luke Lutheran in Franklin Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.

• St. Matthew Lutheran Church and Bethany Lutheran church of Wabasso, as well as Trinity Lutheran Church of Sanborn will host an ecumenical service Nov. 22 at Bethany Lutheran beginning at 7 p.m. Refreshments will follow.

• St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Flora Township will host a Thanksgiving Eve service Nov. 22 at 6:30 p.m.

• Our Savior’s Lutheran Church of Belview will host a service Nov. 22 starting at 7 p.m.

• Rock Dell Lutheran of rural Belview will hold a Thanksgiving Day service Nov. 23 at 9 a.m.

• St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Seaforth will host a Thanksgiving Mass Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.

• A Thanksgiving Day Mass will be held at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Wabasso starting at 8:30 a.m.

• Bethany Lutheran Church near Gilfillan will celebrate Thanksgiving with a service Nov. 22 starting at 6 p.m.

• St. Matthew Lutheran of Evan will host a worship service at 8 p.m. Nov. 22.