Small Town Fireworks, Hotdogs, Fish Fry and Jesus
By Lindsay Peyton
Between watching fireworks light up the night sky and singing the Star-Spangled Banner, there are plenty of opportunities for fellowship during the Fourth of July. A few TAC churches are making the most of the holiday – by spending the day together.
The Rev. Cindy Doran, at Lufkin’s Bethlehem UMC, has planned Independence Day celebrations at the church since she has served as its senior pastor. The congregation has gathered for the event well before her tenure, for about 15 years, she estimated.
Doran also is the senior pastor for Keltys UMC, which joins in the festivities for the Fourth of July. “The two churches come together,” Doran said. “You can’t tell who are the members of which church, which is nice.”
One of the highlights of the event is riding on the train built by longtime member, the late Joel Torres, a veteran of the Korean War. There are games for children, as well as a blow-up slide. Musicians entertain the adults.
“People dance, listen to music, and eat our hot dogs,” Doran said. “When it gets dark, we have fireworks.
The show is spectacular, she added. It started with one member contributing the fireworks, and now several members add to the pot.
“It brings the young and old together; hundreds of people come,” Doran said. “It’s an opportunity to get together. It gives us the community a chance to come together as one.”
What better place to unite than the church, she asked. “That’s the way it used to always be,” she said.
There’s a similar spirit of camaraderie at the Fourth of July Fish Fry at Ryan Chapel. The Rev. Charles Weeks and his son William cook the fish, fries, hushpuppies and coleslaw.
“We invite other churches and people in the surrounding area to come,” Weeks said. “We have a good turnout, and everyone gets involved.”
St. Paul’s UMC and Burke UMC usually bring the desserts, Weeks added. This is the third year for the event.
“We decided to have a get together, sit down, do a little eating and a little evangelizing,” the pastor said. “It’s good for everybody.”
Weeks explained that the three churches are each fairly small, but together they have a big time.
“By ourselves, we can’t do a whole lot,” he said. “But when we get together, we do a lot more.”
The three churches join to play games, set-up a projector with a movie for the children and enjoy a round of dominoes.
“We have something for everyone,” Weeks said. “It’s a fun time.”