The People's Tribune

Clarksville Methodist Church Dinner Will Benefit Ongoing Stained Glass Project

A church that’s serving up tempting fried chicken also is making sure diners get their just desserts.

Clarksville United Methodist is offering all kinds of delights for the sweet tooth as part of its annual Applefest Dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13.

Tickets are $10 each and will be available at the door. In the five years the event has been held, the price has not changed. Proceeds will benefit the final phase of the Save Our Stained Glass Windows project.

In addition to area caterer Laura Portwood’s secret-recipe chicken, the menu consists of homemade mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, hot rolls, homemade desserts and drink. But it’s the made-from-scratch confections that put the finishing touch on the meal.

Bobbi Fox is one of the church’s titans of treats. The lady known for wearing a Wonder Woman apron is a culinary queen who’s been making pies since age nine, and still uses the same bread board and bowl that once served in her mother’s kitchen.

Fox says time, practice and commitment are keys to being a matchless maven. But what about following the directions?

“I do a lot of guessing,” Fox admits. “When my kids say ‘How much of this or that do you use?’ I say ‘A little.’ That’s not what they want me to say.”

Fox has made hundreds of pies over the years, and has guidelines for the oven settings of 350 to 400 degrees, depending upon the crust and filling. She says keeping an open mind is one of the unwritten elements of being a good cook.

“As I’ve gone through the years, I’ve learned a lot,” Fox said. “One was when I made pies for the restaurant in Clarksville and then Ora Bell Brown told me how to make the syrup for burnt caramel pie – burn the sugar and put water in to make the syrup.”

Church members admire the abilities of Fox and other cooks.

“Standing in a kitchen and combining a handful of ingredients may sound like nothing more than a lab experiment,” said Janie Busch, one of the dinner organizers. “But we have bakers and cooks in our congregation that look at a recipe and can envision the end product in both appearance and taste. Then, they measure and mix, all while thinking of the reason why and the people whom they will be pleasing. The result is food that feeds body and soul.”

“Good cooking requires great ingredients, and a good cook can also recognize a delicious recipe,” added Erin Garrison.

Of course, a little faith never leads to a sour bite.

“I just pray that it will all turn out good and I’m always happy to know that everyone likes my pies,” Fox said.

And surprise never hurts, either. “We never know what will appear on the dessert table at Applefest,” Busch laughs.

Fox’s do-it-right attitude is indicative of the congregation, and no project it’s embarked on offers more proof than the windows campaign, which began at Applefest 2014. The work has been done by Art Glass Unlimited of St. Louis.

The 110-year-old brick and stone building is at the four-way stop on the corner of Highway 79 and Howard Street. The sanctuary is surrounded by intricate colored glass that features Christian symbols, the names of previous pastors and lists of pioneer church members.

The first phase (south windows) was completed in 2016, the second (north windows) in 2017 and the third (east windows) earlier this year. The last part will feature an upgrade of the west side windows.

The tiny parish, which traces its roots to the 1830s and usually has fewer than 15 people at Sunday services, raised more than $60,000 to complete the three segments of renovation. About $1,900 of the $12,095 cost of phase four is in the bank.

In addition to meals at Applefest, Eagle Days in January and a fish fry during Lent, the church has catered other dinners, sold notecards and prints featuring local artist Bill Blakey’s renditions of the windows, held bake sales and raffled a quilt.

It also was awarded a grant in February 2017 by the Missouri United Methodist Foundation. Donations have been generous, and it’s not uncommon at the community meals for diners to contribute more than their bill.

“We are pleased with the positive response from church members, former members and community members that have been received in the past as we work toward our goal of completion,” said church member Barb Meyer. “Thank you to all for your continued support.”

Meyer points out that a lot of work preceded the windows project. The roof was replaced in 2007, steeple work was done during the building centennial in 2008, and basement and kitchen renovations were completed in 2013. Wayne Smiley, who died in 2016, was the most vocal about preserving the stained glass.

Diners are welcome to go upstairs and check out the windows, and, of course, all are welcome at the 9:30 a.m. Sunday services.

“Few in numbers, but mighty in faith and strength, the Clarksville United Methodist Church family continues to set goals and accomplish much,” Meyer noted. “We want to preserve what we have inherited, and the windows are priceless.”

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