The End of Summer Back to School BBQ organized by the Sugar Tree Ridge Church of Christ and sponsored by several other area churches was such a success last weekend, Rob Rhodes said, that he hopes to bring the event back again next year bigger and better.
“Yes, because there is a demand and they’re asking for it,” said Thomas, minister at the Sugar Tree Ridge Church of Christ for the past eight years. “I had a man come up to me with tears in his eyes, put his hand on my shoulder and say, ‘This is beautiful. Can we do his again?’ We have momentum, so yes, we will do it again with more churches and more people.”
Held the past eight years at the Sugar Tree Ridge Church of Christ with a top attendance of 180, Rhodes said somewhere around 500 people attended this year’s BBQ held at Bright Elementary School.
In the past, the Sugar Tree Ridge church put the event on by itself, but this year Rhodes and others reached out to other area churches and they responded. The host church plus at least the Mowrystown Church of Christ, Russellville Church of Christ, Union Church of Christ, Sardinia Church of Christ, Living Springs Community Church and Mowrystown Presbyterian Church each one kicked in $1,000 to help pull the event off.
“The thing that was greatest for me was just seeing the church united,” Rhodes said. “Here we are with Covid, Afghanistan and lots of other things in our midst, and God’s people came together and had a good time.”
The BBQ featured a performance by alt-country band 64 to Grayson, spiritual messages, lots of food, kids games and the chance for anyone interested to be baptized on-site.
That happened for Adams County resident Jacob Moseley, who Rhodes said recently nearly lost his life. Rhodes said he was talking with Moseley near a baptismal when he asked Moseley if he was interested in being saved.
“I said, ‘Brother, if you want to get in that baptismal I’ll get in there with you right now dressed just like I am,” Rhodes said. “He started to get a distant look in his eyes, so I took my shoes off, jumped in there and asked if he wanted to join me. He said, ‘Yes, I want to do that.’
“When he got out I pointed around and said, ‘This is your family,’ and about 10 people came up and gave him a big hug. It was great to see.”
Rhodes said Brandon Barr of Big B’s Barr-B-Q started grilling at 3 a.m. and cooked 18 pork butts and about 200 hot dogs and 100 chicken breasts. He said Holtfield Station employee Liz Fulton baked 1,000 desserts for the event in her home kitchen.
The Turtle Man (aka Ernie Brown Jr.) of former TV show “Call of the Wild” fame was on hand. Rhodes said people came from New York, Illinois, and one flew in from South Carolina to see the Turtle Man. Cathy and Randy Teeter of The Gideons International offered Bibles to anyone that wanted one and gave about 30 away.
Through various Bible study groups Rhodes has been part of and through other avenues, he is friends with several NBA and NFL players, some of whom have attended past End of School events. He said that next year he hopes to have some of them at the BBQ, using their influence to draw even more people to the free event.
Rhodes said he and others decided to reach out to other churches this year in an effort to break down walls between them and get more people involved in the ministry. He said the response was great.
“In my heart, I’m an open person and I think the church traditionally has had this hypocritical view of the world,” Rhodes said in a preview interview for the BBQ. “That’s not the way it should be. Church should be fun, positive, welcoming, and we want everyone to come as you are, no matter who you are, and let us show you who Jesus Christ is.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.