First Posted: 12/25/2008
DOBSON Preacher Ted Turman may not be Santa Claus, but he and his church members played the part as elves Christmas Eve for inmates staying in the Surry County Jail.
Christmas carols wafted through the kitchen along with the smell of ham, green beans, homemade mashed potatoes and chocolate brownies. The normally dismal jail came alive Tuesday morning with the offering of the Christmas meal.
Ninety-four inmates in all enjoyed the meal provided by Turman and his congregation from two of the three churches where he preaches. Turman preaches at Blackwater United Methodist Church where the meal was prepared by members of the congregation. Members of New Hope United Methodist were on hand to help out as well. He also preaches at Stanford United Methodist.
The group, led by Cindy Marion, a registered dietitian and member of Blackwater, started cooking at 8 a.m. on Christmas Eve. By lunchtime, the group had delivered the food and started loading it onto trays for the inmates.
Sheriff Graham Atkinson also is a member of Blackwater. While the meal was being served, Atkinson and Turman went from cell block to cell block offering the opportunity for the inmates to speak to the preacher or to have him say a blessing over the meal.
Many inmates seemed glad to see the sheriff and his preacher. Many of the men reached out to shake the preachers hand. One inmate said he was really thankful for the meal, especially the ham. He said, God Bless you, as the sheriff and his pastor were leaving his cell block.
This is the fifth year the church has provided a meal at the jail. The members served 86 men and eight women a meal. Marion said the food was paid for by the men at the church. They got a special discount from Mount Airy Meat Center on the food. Drinks were donated by Four Brothers Food Stores.
Turman said his wife, Cathy Turman, who is the pastor at Stoney Knoll United Methodist Church of East Bend, actually started the tradition. Atkinson said the annual Christmas Eve meal started before he became sheriff. He said the church providing the meal is also a good thing for the county because it is one less meal the county has to buy.
Detention Officer Angela Marion, who helped serve the inmates, said most of the women serving time were there for violating their probation or for drug charges.
I think some of them might get bonded out today because their families feel sorry for them on Christmas, Marion said.
Cindy Marion said the church receives a blessing from serving the inmates at Christmastime.
We get letters from inmates thanking us for the meal. I remember one woman in particular said that she was grateful for the meal because that is all she got for Christmas last year. It blesses us to think that we might have touched a life. Maybe bringing this meal might touch someones life and bring them closer to God.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.