Maybe you’re familiar with the words of a popular song that says, “Surely, the presence of the Lord is in this place.” If you’ve sung it, then you’ve felt the power of the words. If you’re not familiar with it be sure to look it up online!
But, let me take it one step further and tell you a little about a local church where this song is alive and present ~ in its members, its spirit of community and brotherly love. This church is Green Pond United Methodist Church in Gray Court.
Green Pond UMC was first established in 1844 and there is a stone engraved with this date for all to see that still sits on the back corner! Generations have called this their church home and today, Green Pond is still going strong! You may have heard of it because they are very well-known for their local mission house and their semi-annual fish-fry events! Every May and October finds members preparing slaw, hush puppies, french fries, cakes and the fried fish that will draw in the crowds!
The very first Green Pond fish fry event was started on March 22, 2003, by Jimmy Langston. The church wasn’t equipped for anything like this, so they borrowed the equipment from a church in Belton. The members rallied to assist in this event that was begun in order to provide funding for local missions in the Green Pond community. 609 plates were served and sold on that March day and it was the beginning of a wonderful tradition!
Speaking of October, it’s here! And soon the fish will be frying at Green Pond UMC for the 28th fish-fry event on Saturday, October 22! Mr. Langston quickly decided he needed to turn this over to the capable hands of Tish Bedenbaugh the following year. And to this day, Tish remains the “heart and hands” behind this wonderful fund-raising event! She has poured her time, energy, planning skills and her love into every part of Green Pond UMC, but the Fish Fry is ‘her baby!” She maintains a notebook back to the very beginning and every receipt and detail is recorded! That’s how we know that 609 plates were served at that very first event! Only once, last year, was Tish unable to preside over the planning and the actual event as she was in the midst of chemo treatments. Everyone rallied to make the event take place just as it had for years past and again, it was a success! All to God’s glory!
As with any church event, members are encouraged to participate. And participate they do! The ladies start on Thursday before the event and are busy prepping the dining area, bringing in the supplies, setting up the kitchen for precise operation. They will have homemade cakes sliced and wrapped individually and not a crumb will hit the floor! 1000+ cups of slaw and 1000+ cups of tartar sauce get prepped in a few brief few hours. The men will be outside setting up the specially built work-space with numerous fryers for the hundreds of pounds of fries and fish that will come through their hands on the day of the event. Hours of cleanup work follow this event and members of every age are a part of it.
There will be youth serving tea, cleaning the dining area, picking up trays and smiling and talking to those who come to eat in the dining area.
A special area is set up for “Take-Out” for those who want to drive by and get their delicious food to take home.
The fried tilapia has been a standing tradition of this event, so plan to come and sample it! You will be doing the community a great service by your purchase. ALL profits are put back into the community - an average of $10,000.00 per year from last the 2 fish-fries. Green Pond Church does not receive any funds beyond expenses, but immediately the profits back into the community for whoever has a need. There is funding for the Laurens County Food Bank, local projects, etc.
As a part of the community out-reach, GPUMC members donate tickets for food to be delivered to the Green Pond Fire Department, Generations Home, and Laurens Memorial Home, totalling over 150 plates.
“God’s got His fingerprints all over this event and He has ever since it first began,” says Tish Bedenbaugh. “We’ve NEVER had one bad check! Now, that’s a God-given gift for sure. Let’s give all the praises to God for He is the one who deserves them, not us!”
Long-time GPUMC member, Ann Vaughan, commented that one of the most special things about this mission project is that it brings everyone together in such a special way. The youth, the teens, the youth, the older members - each one helping the other and teaching them the things they need to know to continue this effort into the future.
As a first-time worker there in the kitchen on Prep Day several years ago, I was privileged to see exactly what Tish meant by her comment above. It was Friday afternoon and about 12 ladies were prepping the slaw/tartar sauce in the small kitchen area when the door opened. In walked a man, woman and their adult son. They were curious as to what was going on here and had stopped by to find out. We chatted with William, Florence, and Bill who had just moved to Ft. Inn from Arizona and invited them to come back to eat with us the next day. And they did! Not only did the Bryants come and eat, they are now active members of GPUMC!
Yes, surely the presence of God is in this place! We can see His mighty power and His grace at work in so many ways!
Pastor Bob Keely reported that last May’s event served up 1158 plates! Come help us top this number on Saturday, Oct. 22.
Adult plate $8.00, includes meal, drink and dessert, Children’s plate $4.00/ available 12 - 7 pm. Contact us for tickets!
Thank you to all who have served and to all who have bought fish plates over these past 14 years! We look forward to seeing you!
Green Pond UMC, 168 Stoddard Mill Rd, Gray Court, SC 29645, 864-862-2668♦
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