The moment moved Janet Thompson, Ernest's wife, to tears. She was thankful that her six children were able to gather for a meal, prayer and family fellowship on Thanksgiving Day.
"Dad would be real pleased," she said.
More than 30 members of the Thompson family attended this year's dinner, the first Thanksgiving without Ernest. He died in February at age 75, and was the church's pastor for 33 years.
The family kept a tradition Ernest started that included a Bible reading, prayer and giving individual thanks to God and family members. Later, they played basketball in the church's gym, also an annual tradition.
Ernest Thompson Jr. said his father made sure the annual dinner always included prayer and thanks.
"That was the real important thing to him," he said. "The younger ones wanted to play basketball. He made sure we went through this first."
Janet Thompson said some family members helped cook a 21-pound turkey, a turkey breast and two hams early Thanksgiving morning. Others brought food they prepared earlier.
Three tables in the church's gym were filled with family members.
After dinner and prayer, the family exchanged Christmas presents and drew names of the relative they would buy a present for next year.
Janet Thompson said she's proud of the way her family is able to stay together. She misses her late husband, but God has brought peace to the family, she said.
"I miss him terribly," she said. "But the Lord gives us peace ... and I know that this Lord was gracious."
Although his father couldn't be with them, Roland Thompson said he also is content. He said he knows his father went "home." He's thankful for that.
"I miss him a lot," he said. "But I know where he's at. I know the joy he is having."