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Casting A Net: Stanleytown UMC provides ministry through food |

Casting A Net: Stanleytown UMC provides ministry through food

STANLEYTOWN– No matter the event at Stanleytown United Methodist Church, one thing’s for sure: The tables will be laden with desserts.

This Saturday, the church will be combining two traditions: its monthly NET (Neighbors Eating Together) meal and its annual fall festival, which includes a rummage sale and the making and selling of Brunswick stew and apple butter.

Pastor David Westmoreland and some members of the congregation sat down recently to talk about the big day for which they are preparing.

Well – they were talking, that is, in between the laughter and jokes. Elmer Hall, who makes a famous cornbread, was dishing out the teasing as fast as he was taking it.

Martha Adams laughed about one occasion for which Hall had made “as least six big iron skillets full,” and the cornbread was all eaten. “Elmer was whipping up another batch. As soon as he was done, I cut it up and gave it away – and he was fixing it for himself!”

“I had to go home hungry,” Hall quipped.

It seems the star of the group is Edna Turner.

“Miz Edna is 102 years old, cooking, driving, dancing, you name it,” Adams said.

“She almost daily raises the roof on Hardees down there,” said Westmoreland, referring to the popular gathering place, which also holds music sessions.

Turner is a fixture at every event, her friends said.

“Edna makes a cake for every one of them. She’s at every one of them,” Hall said, then added, turning to Turner, “don’t get the big head now.”

Turner just chuckled and smiled at their comments as she replied, “I hope we can continue to do it many, many more years.”

Westmoreland said the church’s slogan is “Stanleytown United Methodist Church is casting a net.” It’s based on John 21, which recounts the disciples’ failed fishing attempt.

They had been fishing all night, with no results, Westmoreland said. Jesus told them to let the net down on the other side of the boat – and sure enough, it filled full with fish. Then Jesus said, “‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’”

The church is casting the net in a broad sense, he said: “to establish meaningful, long-term relationships with our neighbors.”

“Our neighbors not just here, but universal,” Adams added.

The NET meal is far more than just being a charity for the needy, Westmoreland said. It’s an opportunity to participate in the neighborhood and build friendships – all the while, being good disciples of Jesus and his teachings.


Stanleytown United Methodist Church are starting to bake for their fall festival. Desserts include (clockwise, from the vase of flowers) coconut pie, cornbread, Texas Cowboy Cookies, butter-pecan pound cake, Bread (of Heaven) Pudding, apple-walnut cake, “Preach” cobbler, blueberry crunch and oatmeal cake in the middle.

Holly Kozelsky

Church members don’t keep to themselves but rather spread out and eat at different tables with neighbors, they said, adding that they’ve noticed several of the neighbors also making a point to go around and visit with folks.

“We always have prayer,” Westmoreland said, and also gather prayer requests to include in the church’s bulletin.

The NET meals can be considered a part “of the life of the church which meets on Saturday,” just as valuable as the Sunday service, Westmoreland said.

The meal definitely does have its charitable side, though. “One day,” Hall said, “a young lady said, ‘I sure am glad you’re having a meal, because it’s the only way I’ll get a meal all day.’”

On the other hand, it’s also a big social event everyone enjoys. Several of the neighbors bring food, including desserts and ice cream, to share, they said.

The NET meal is usually held on the last Saturday of each month from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Usually between 60 and more than 80 people attend, but once there were 100, Hall said. The biggest crowd they ever had was in June, when they changed the date to Sunday, to combine the NET meal with the yearly church picnic.

“All the food is cooked at the church” from scratch, Hall said. “We do not go out and buy food. We fix it ourselves.”

The menu follows the season, Westmoreland said: Barbecue, or baked pasta, or cabbage and sausage, or pintos, cornbread, cabbage and slaw. One of their most popular meals is in August, when they serve sandwiches – and the big hit is the BLT, with loads of crispy bacon and homegrown tomatoes.

This Saturday’s NET meal is one they’ll keep simple, though, so that the church members also can tend the Brunswick stew and apple butter. It will be hotdogs, fixings and the traditional side dishes.

The desserts won’t be simple, though, they said: As usual, there will be an assortment of homemade desserts. The most popular one, they agreed, is Westmoreland’s “Preach” Cobbler, a monthly tradition. It’s such a big hit that it has to be put out last, because when they used to put it out with the meal, people would load up on it before getting the proper supper, and it would run out.

The stew already has been sold out through previously placed orders, Hall said, but people could get on a waiting list if there’s any left over by calling the church at (276)-629-2256.

A rummage sale will be held the same day. It will start on Friday, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and continue Saturday, starting at 8 a.m.

Hall said he plans to arrive at the church at 3 a.m. Saturday and start cooking the stew at 4 a.m. The apple butter will be started at 6 a.m.

The stew and apple butter will be finished cooking and ready to eat or take home by 4 p.m. The rummage sale will continue all day, with no particular ending time.

Stanleytown United Methodist Church is located at 24 Maplewood Ave. in Stanleytown.


“Preach” Cobbler

1 stick butter or margarine

1 ½ cups self-rising flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Pinch of salt

1 (29 oz.) can peaches in heavy syrup

½ tsp. cinnamon

Melt butter in a 13- by 9-inch pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

While butter is melting, mix flour, sugar, milk vanilla, salt and cinnamon to make batter. Pour batter over melted butter. Spread peaches (with syrup) over batter. Place in oven and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Bread (of Heaven) Pudding

½ loaf French bread

1 stick butter

4 or 5 large eggs

1 ½ cup sugar

3 ½ cups milk

Pinch of salt

Sprinkle of cinnamon

Break bread and place in a 13- by 9-inch pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt butter and allow to cool.

Mix eggs, sugar, butter, milk, salt, cinnamon and vanilla. Pour over broken bread and sprinkle with cinnamon. Place in oven and bake for about 45 minutes.

Apple-Walnut Cake

1 ½ cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. vanilla

3 cups chopped apples

1 cup walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and grease and flour a tube pan.

Cream vegetable oil, eggs and sugar. Sift flour, salt and soda.

Combine liquid and dry ingredients thoroughly, then gently stir in vanilla, apples and nuts until thoroughly incorporated.

Pour into tube pan and bake for 1 ½ hours.

Easy Coconut Pie

1 stick butter

¾ cup buttermilk

5 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups coconut

2 unbaked pie crusts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and stir in buttermilk.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs, then beat in sugar.

Pour butter mixture and egg mixture together. Add vanilla and coconut and mix well. Pour into unbaked pie crusts and bake for 45 minutes.

Blueberry Crunch

2 cans prepared blueberry pie filling

1 box white cake mix

1 cup chopped pecans

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 sticks butter

Grease a 13- by 9-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour pie filling into baking pan. Mix together cake mix, pecans and sugar. Cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse corn meal.

Pour into baking pan over pie filling. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Oatmeal cake

1 cup quick oats

1 ¼ cup boiling water

½ cup margarine

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 1/3 cup flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. vanilla


1 stick margarine

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

2 egg yolks

Grease and flour a 12- by 9-inch baking pan, and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour boiling water over oatmeal and mix.

Mix together margarine, sugars and eggs, then add oats.

Sift dry ingredients, then add gradually to creamed mixture. Stir in vanilla. Set in oven to bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Thorough mix topping ingredients and spread over cake.

Broil until brown.

Butter Pecan Pound Cake

1 box butter pecan cake mix

1 can coconut-pecan frosting

¾ cup water

¾ cup cooking oil

4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and butter a Bundt pan.

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into Bundt pan and bake for 50 minutes.

Elmer’s Cornbread

1 stick margarine

1 cup self-rising corn meal mix

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Set the margarine in a 9-inch iron skillet, and set the skillet into the oven to heat up and to melt the margarine.

Stir together corn meal mix, eggs and buttermilk. Pour batter into the hot skillet over the melted margarine.

Bake until golden brown, about 13 to 17 minutes.

Texas Cowboy Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 TBS baking powder

1 TBS baking soda

1 TBS cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

3 sticks butter, at room temperature

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar

3 eggs

1 TBS vanilla

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3 cups rolled oats

2 cups sweetened flake coconut

2 cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

In an 8-quart bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in sugar and brown sugar and continue beating until combined, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each egg. Beat in vanilla.

Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Add chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans.

For each cookie, drop ¼ cup of dough on to ungreased cookie sheet, spacing about 3 inches apart. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Remove to rack to cool.

Brown Sugar Squares (Blond Brownies)

2 sticks butter

4 cups brown sugar

4 eggs

2 ½ cups flour

3 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

2 tsp. vanilla

½ cup coconut

½ cup pecans

Preheat oven to 325 or 350 degrees. Grease a 12- by 9-inch baking pan.

Melt butter. Mix brown sugar and butter together. Let cool.

Add eggs and mix. Then add remaining ingredients.

Pour into pan, place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

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