Creative Ideas for Rural Churches #2: Pigskin Dinner
Hanging out in the pastor's office after preaching at our partner Thriving Rural Congregation at Hayesville First UMC, I noticed a football sitting on the shelf among all of the other church paraphernalia. "What's the story of the football?," I asked.
Rev. Kirk Hatherly proceeded to tell the story of how, earlier in the school year, the church had called up the local middle school with an offer it couldn't refuse. The church offered to prepare pregame meals in the fellowship hall for the school's football team, the Hayesville Yellow Jackets, before every home game.
The coach of the team accepted the offer eagerly. He told Kirk of how, with all of the cutbacks in education this year, the school had no funds to continue such events. The church's phone call was an answer to prayer.
And that is how, before every home game this past season, the 35 or so young men on the football team would meet at the church with their jerseys on to receive a home-cooked meal from a group of volunteers within the congregation.
Powered by the cooking of Hayesville First, the Yellow Jackets went undefeated at home this year.
Then, a few Sundays ago, the entire football team, 35 or so middle school boys (some of whom had never before been a part of any church), joined the Hayesville First congregation in worship. At the end of the service, as a token of their gratitude, the team presented a game ball to the pastor and to the church.