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Parishioners from Trinity Temple Assembly of God serve attendees of the church’s 26th Annual Love Feast Saturday at the Artesia Center. (Maegan Lemon – Daily Press)

Nearly 1,500 Artesians had a fresh, hot meal Saturday courtesy of Trinity Temple Assembly of God – and Pastor Bobby Argo says he and his parishioners received as much love as they gave.

The church’s annual Love Feast at the Artesia Center served between 1,100 and 1,400 individuals this year. The meal is a 26-year tradition for the church, which uses it as a chance to give back in the season of goodwill.

“It’s just one way that we express our love to our community and give those that are not going to have a good Thanksgiving meal a good Thanksgiving meal,” Argo said. “As the Book of Luke says, when you host a feast, invite those that can’t repay.”

The Love Feast is a significant effort for the members of Trinity Temple. A refrigerator is transported from the church to the Center earlier in the week so preparations for the feast can begin, with help from City of Artesia recreation supervisor Luis Reyes.

“Luis really oversees the cooking at the Center, and we’re grateful that he volunteers his time to be a big part of this,” said Argo.

Between 60 and 80 parishioners pitched in this year to cook and debone 25 turkeys and 20 hams, as well as prepare side dishes and around 150 desserts.

“It’s a lot of work, and we’re very thankful to all of our church family, because they worked really hard,” said Argo.

The result is well worth the time, however.

In addition to serving around 1,000 Saturday at the Center, the church also delivered approximately 250 carry-out meals to people in the community unable to leave their homes to attend, including residents of San Pedro Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and Good Life Senior Living.

Parishioners also delivered meals to on-duty first responders at the Artesia Police and Fire Departments.

“There’s a lot of people that are really appreciative who let us know how much they thank us for it,” Argo said. “And we’re glad to do it. It’s all about giving something back to our community.”