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Randolph’s Union Springs reaches men, boys through huntingcomment (0)

December 1, 2011

By Gary Hardin

The dense deer population, along with the popularity of deer hunting in Chilton County, prompted Union Springs Baptist Church, Randolph, to begin a hunting-focused outreach to men and boys.

On Nov. 12, more than 450 men and boys, many wearing camouflage apparel, gathered at the Chilton Baptist Association church’s fourth annual Hunting Season Kickoff outreach dinner.

“It gets bigger every year,” said church member Heedy Hayes, whose famous chicken was the featured menu item for this year’s dinner.

The men and boys were jampacked into Union Springs Baptist’s activities building, eager to enjoy a good meal, hear a Bible message and win a door prize.

Tommy McCoy, a member of First Baptist Church, Columbiana, came with a group from his church. “I love this event. It’s good food, fellowship and a boatload of door prizes,” McCoy said.

The door prizes are made available through private donations, and every person who registers walks away with one.

This year, more than $6,000 of door prizes were given away, including the top prize, a pair of tickets to the Iron Bowl. Other prizes included gift cards, chain saws, rifles, televisions, tool sets, small appliances, camping gear, knives, fishing rods and backpacks.

Of course, the event’s primary purpose was outreach.

“We follow up and make contacts to those who registered and to those who make decisions,” Union Springs member Vernon Lee said.

And this year, almost 40 salvation and 150 rededication decisions were made.

Tom Whitsett, a Southern Baptist evangelist based in Chickamauga, Ga., brought the evening message.

Using John 13:10 as his text, Whitsett reminded the audience, “Jesus forgives you by washing your sins away. Every person God saves, He changes into a new creation.”

The vision for the dinner came from Union Springs member Kacy Mims.

“About five years ago, I read a book on intentional evangelism,” Mims said.

“I was praying about an outreach idea for our church, and the hunting season kickoff dinner came to mind. It’s a lot of hard work but we enjoy it.”

Pastor Steve Johnson said, “We don’t skimp on the event. We serve a delicious meal, and we give away thousands of dollars of door prizes. The event is quality. Churches from as far away as Louisiana have called wanting to know what we do and how we do it.”

But the dinner is just a part of Union Springs’ outreach mindset.

“In four years, our church has shown a 50 percent increase in attendance. Last year, we gave more than $100,000 — the equivalent of 20 percent of our budget — to some aspect of missions,” Johnson said.

“Those are great numbers for a rural church out in the woods.”

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