Gobble gobble!

The Church of the Nazarene in Pukalani, Maui cooks 250 turkeys in the imu every Thanksgiving.

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Holly Beretto

That flurry of digging and wood-chopping at Pukalani’s Church of the Nazarene just before Thanksgiving isn’t some big gardening project; it’s preparations for the church’s annual Thanksgiving imu—and you’re invited.

Here’s how it works: On Wednesday, November 26, between 5 and 6:30 p.m., bring your uncooked Thanksgiving meal to the church in a flat-bottomed, foil-covered aluminum pan with your name written on it in indelible marker. Church members and volunteers will place it in the imu to cook overnight over coals and kiawe wood. Next morning, you’ve got a Thanksgiving turkey or ham, slow-cooked to succulent perfection.

“You don’t need to reserve a spot in the imu,” says Pastor Dale Kreps. “Our guys will do everything possible to fit whatever people bring. There’s space for about 250 pans.”

Assistant Pastor Kaipo Thomas and his family started this tradition five years ago as a way for the church to reach out to the community. In 2007, the church added a new tradition: collaborating with Waipuna Chapel, Po‘okela and Grace Churches to cook extra food and distribute it to homeless people all over the island on Thanksgiving Day.

Pukalani Church of the Nazarene is located off Old Haleakala Highway at 211 Hiwalani Loop. The phone number is (808) 527-5040, in case you have questions—or want to volunteer.

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