By Carolyn Tomlin
Contributing writer, B&R
BROWNSVILLE — It started out like any other hot summer day. Temperatures soared into the high 90s and the heat index climbed to the triple digits on Friday, July 17.
Regardless of the temperature, it’s never too hot to have a fish fry.
Woodland Baptist Church in Brownsville chose that particular day to feed some of Haywood County’s “first responders”at the Criminal Justice Complex.
Woodland members Don Vailes and Butch Porch, both seasoned fishermen, had cast their lines in the Tennessee River near Pickwick for the last several weeks.
Using night crawlers and chicken or turkey liver, they pulled in numerous catfish and crappie.
Wanting to show their support for Haywood County First Responders, Vailes and Porch, along with others from Woodland Baptist Church planned a fish fry.
“These men and women put their lives on the line every day,” Porch said. “It’s a small thing, but our church wanted to let them know we appreciate their service.”
Frying the fish meant bringing in large black iron pots, filling them with oil, and using propane burners — one pot for fish, another for hush-puppies and French fries. Homemade desserts consisted of chocolate brownies, lemon pie, chocolate chip cookies and other sweets.
About 50 people from the sheriff’s department and staff from the jail were the first group invited, Porch noted.
“Our goal is to feed all first responders: police department, ambulance, highway patrol and the fire department. We want them to know we support them during good as well as bad times.”
“We appreciate Woodland Baptist feeding our department,” said Sheriff Billy Garrett. “Our people work hard to serve Haywood County.”
Grover Westover, a local musician and pastor of Harmony Baptist in Haywood County, provided guitar music during the event.
Randy Kellough, pastor of Woodland Baptist Church, observed, “Ministry is an essential element of being the church. This is especially true for community impact.
“One of the best ways to cultivate ministry is supporting those who are called first responders. The church benefits by ministering to those who serve in law enforcement, emergency medical services, and fire fighters.”
“They are part of God’s ministers to the community, and churches who support first responders create an alliance that impacts the lives of people who live there,” Kellough said. He added that gospel opportunities may surface for residents in the community and first responders along with their families. “They need the ministry of the church,” he affirmed.
Woodland Baptist strives to honor the verse in Matthew 25:40 (HCSB), “… I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.”
Among those who participated were several children. Brooke Evans, a member of Woodland, brought her three youngsters who were involved in serving cold drinks and other duties. “Children naturally love to help others, at home, with their teacher at school, or just holding the door for someone,” she said.
“As a parent, I want to encourage them to help others. Opportunities such as the fish fry let them be actively involved in service. I am grateful for a church family that encourages and supports children in this way.” B&R