By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
DRY PRONG, La. (LBM) – New Prospect Baptist Church recently raised $1,368 for the Georgia Barnette Louisiana Missions Offering during its annual fall festival and cook-off competition featuring many of the state’s iconic dishes.
The event, held Oct. 21 on the church’s park track, drew more than 300 members of the community who sampled foods from each of the 13 teams from NPBC and other churches. Their dishes included jambalaya, gumbo, chicken and sausage sauce piquant, sweet potato casserole, crawfish etouffee, pastalaya, roasted pig, shrimp and corn bisque, corn maque choux, red beans and rice, and beignets.
After they sampled the food, festival goers then voted by donating money (that was then given to the GBO) for their favorite dish for the People’s Choice Award that was won by a team from Bethel Baptist Church, Colfax. Their winning dish netted $250 alone for the GBO, the annual missions offering named after Louisiana’s first Woman’s Missionary Union director.
The event also featured a dessert bar, trunk or treating, an obstacle course, tailgate-style games and Christian contemporary music and prayer walk.
“When thinking about how we were going to promote Georgia Barnette this year, we wanted to do something that would not only raise awareness and funding for Louisiana missions, but would also bring the community together,” said festival organizer and NPBC Woman’s Missionary Union Director Kimberly Roberts. “Post-Covid, there has been a need for a community revival of sorts not only in the community but within the church family and between sister churches. I love the motto ‘We’re better together.’ As Louisiana is known for its flavorful food, our love of festivals and sports tailgating events, it seemed like the perfect combination – Louisiana Cook-Off Competition tailgate style.”
Roberts said one of the most impactful moments of the day took place before the event when 50 people gathered for a prayer walk around the track led by NPBC Pastor Trey Lewis and Bethel Baptist Pastor Kenny Bratton. Participants stopped at various points around the track at signs that prompted prayer for missions, the community and local, state and national leaders.
“It’s humbling to know that so many people were praying at the same time,” Roberts said. “There really is no better way to begin an event than with prayer. God’s presence covered the events of the day. I know it was so because as the community arrived and the events kicked off there was a feeling of togetherness and joyfulness that is hard to put into words. It was just a feeling that you have when you feel God’s presence near.”