Members of a small church just over the Newton County line in Walton County are looking to keep their church home going strong with a barbecue fundraiser this weekend.
Jersey United Methodist Church, at 115 Jersey-Social Circle Road in Jersey, will hold a ribs and chicken dinner fundraiser from 5–7 p.m. Saturday.
Church members will serve up plates of ribs and chicken dinners with all the fixin’s — for a cost of $10 per plate. After dinner, the Vocalaries, a Southern gospel singing group from the Walton County area, will perform.
Jersey Methodist Church, originally called "Brown’s Chapel," was organized in 1824. Originally built as a one-room log building at the top of the hill in front of the George Brown homestead about one-half mile south of Jersey, the church was subsequently moved to Jersey and the site where it now stands. The Rev. Ricci Turpin is the present pastor.
Though small in number with about 20 or so members attending its services, the church has seen many members through its 150-plus years.
Members Marie and Kenneth Shepard said they have attended Jersey UMC for more than 18 years. Mrs. Shepard said Saturday’s annual fundraiser is planned to boost the church’s budget.
She explained that members work together to keep the church going, giving offerings at services and volunteering their time for maintenance.
"We really believe in it, and even though we just have a small membership, we all want to hold on to it and we are all fighting together," Mrs. Shepard said.
"We are keeping this church going for some reason," she said. "It’s a good feeling because you know that everyone is working together."
Deborah McCullough, a member for more than 45 years, helped to plan the ribs and chicken fundraiser. McCullough has personally been catering for about 30 years, which is one of the reasons she said she helps with the planning. She said organizing for the event began about three months ago, as church members asked local businesses to make donations toward what was needed for the meal. Members have also been selling tickets for the event.
"I love the Lord, and I want that little church to make it, because it’s a very, very small church, but it has a lot of history for the city of Jersey," McCullough said.
"Jersey is home — the church and the community is home," she said. "We would love for the local residents to come out and support us."
Member Lynn Simpson explained that church members placed signs and information about the fundraiser around Jersey and the surrounding communities in Walton and Newton counties. She said the church is anticipating selling 100 to 150 meals during the fundraiser.
She said that tonight, members will begin preparation of all the side dishes.
"It’s certainly a church-wide effort and a community outreach opportunity to share some good fellowshipping time from a very talented group that will be bringing their message to us.’’