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Like the spirit of Christmas future in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," the Rev. Jeff Carter Jr. will try to create an awareness of Thanksgiving a decade or two down the road during Buffalo's Interfaith-Intercultural Thanksgiving Prayer Service next week.

The annual service is scheduled from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in Prince of Peace Temple Church of God in Christ, 669 Kensington Ave., near Grider Street. It will be co-sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice and the Network of Religious Communities.

The network was created recently by the merger of the Buffalo Area Council of Churches and Buffalo Area Metropolitan Ministries.

The program will include a "Circle of Thanks" during which young and old participants will give thanks in the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox, Buddhist, Baha'i, Native American, Jain, Hindu, Sikh and Unitarian traditions.

Mr. Carter, the pastor of Prince of Peace Temple and coordinating chaplain at Attica Correctional Facility, will give the keynote address at the service.

His take on Thanksgiving is that "we tend to give thanks for the past" but rarely consider what we will give thanks for on future Thanksgivings.

To assure there will be things to be thankful for then, Mr. Carter says, it is important to lay the groundwork today.

"The world of the future in which we live will only be determined by what we do today," he said. "The only way to assure a good future is to take charge of the present in such a manner that we determine what the future will be."

An example of preparing for the future, Mr. Carter said, is to assure that there are good schools that provide a good education to give today's youth something to be thankful for 20 years from now.

"The things we give thanks for next week will be things that happened because someone put things in place in the past," he said.

Music for the service will be provided by the Prince of Peace Youth Choir and the Occasional Choir of Resurrection Lutheran Church.

Lana D. Benatovich, executive director of the National Conference for Community and Justice, said families are encouraged to take children to the service, which will be followed by a reception.

Those attending are asked to take canned goods or non-perishable foods that will be donated to the Prince of Peace food pantry.

In addition to the interfaith event, several ecumenical and community Thanksgiving services will be held beginning Sunday:

The Elma Community Thanksgiving Eve Service will be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Rice Road and Seneca Street. The Rev. Bruce Morris, pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, will preach at the ecumenical service. Donations of money will be accepted to benefit the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Western New York, and canned good will be collected for the East Aurora Food Pantry.

The Williamsville Clergy Association will sponsor an Interfaith Service of Thanksgiving at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Amherst Lutheran Church, 5125 Main St.

The Rev. Bryant Oskvig, assistant pastor of Williamsville United Methodist Church, will preach. The service will include the reading of passages about God's involvement in American life and songs of thanksgiving. A social will follow.

Five United Methodist congregations will join for a Thanksgiving Service at 7:15 p.m. Sunday in University United Methodist Church, 410 Minnesota Ave. The service, to be preceded by a pot-luck dinner at 6 p.m., will be co-sponsored by Hope Kensington, Ontario Street, Asbury and Baynes Avenue First United Methodist churches. The community is invited to both the dinner and the service.

The Eggertsville-Snyder Ministerium will sponsor a Community Thanksgiving Service at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Ascension Lutheran Church, 4640 Main St., Amherst. The service has been planned by a total of 10 Catholic, Protestant and Jewish congregations. Those attending are asked to contribute canned goods and non-perishable food items for distribution by the food pantry at University Presbyterian Church.

The South Buffalo Ecumenical Association will conduct its annual Thanksgiving Eve Service at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Salem Lutheran Church, McKinley Parkway and Whitfield Avenue.

The Rev. Richard E. Blemaster, pastor of Salem Lutheran, will preach and four other pastors will participate in the service. The association represents 19 Catholic and Protestant churches and religious organizations in South Buffalo.

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