Pulpit Stories: Chili
In November, pastors from throughout the Northwest District gathered up their chili ingredients with one goal in mind – to win the “Golden Ladle” award.
Creating everything from a chili featuring African peppers to a white chicken chili, entrants not only competed for the award, but worked together to raise money for the University of Arkansas Wesley Foundation during the first annual, Strangely Warmed Wesley Chili Cook-off.
During the event, participants could “vote” for their favorite chili by placing donations in designated jar – thus determining the winner of the “golden ladle.”
Other funds were raised through an auction. In all, the first event raised more than $1,800 (including a $600 annual pledge) for the Wesley Foundation.
Clefton Vaughan, associate pastor at Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, won the “Golden Ladle” award with his prize-winning Cowboy Chili.
Laying a Foundation For the Future
Omar Al-Rikabi, campus minister and executive director of the U of A Wesley Foundation, said the cook-off was great fund-raiser for the foundation for a variety of reasons.
“We were able to bring in 12 different pastors from around the district to connect with Wesley and our students,” Al-Rikabi said. “I think that is our biggest success, because growing the relationship with the congregations who support us – both specifically and through the apportionments – is so important to who we are and what we are trying to do at UofA.”
Al-Rikabi said the event also provided a fun way to connect churches and pastors with students.
“[This] helps support the Methodist Church’s presence on the largest university in the state,” he said. “From the pastors who cook chili to the laity who come and eat it and donate, they are all helping both the present of the church on the UofA campus and the future of the church in Arkansas and the world.”
Students are already planning to host the event again.
“We already have a list of great ideas to make next year’s bigger and better,” Al-Rikabi said. “Once we know the Razorback football schedule for next season we’ll pick the date for the Second Annual Strangely Warmed Chili Cook Off, and then Clefton can defend his trophy.
Al-Rikabi said he hoped people who took part in the first cook-off will help spread the word for next year’s event.
“We’d like to see more people come out and have fun with us and celebrate campus ministry,” he said. “We’d [also] like to see the event itself become more of a family event that people plan to come to every year.”
In addition to Vaughn, pastors who took part in the event included: David Freeman, Dennis Stropes, Carness Vaughan, John Altland, Randy Rowlan, Allen Crum, Justin Ledbetter, Gary Lunsford, Carl Palmer, Terry Gosnell, and Alex Workman.
For more information about the University of Arkansas Wesley Foundation, contact Al-Rikabi at 479.8564775 or email@example.com. Additional information can be found at www.uawesley.com.