GAINESVILLE — For 46 years now, the United Methodist Men have been funding special projects at Redwine United Methodist Church by serving up hearty Brunswick stew to the South Hall community.
"Last year (the profits) went toward our transportation costs," said the Rev. Whit Martin, associate pastor at Redwine United Methodist. "This year it’s going toward our church building fund; we are doing what we can to build a new classroom facility."
Each year the men’s group raises between $9,000 and $10,000 for the church with the Southern specialty.
"As far as giving to the church projects in the last 10 years, they have given over $100,000 to special church projects," said the Rev. Mike Pinson, Redwine’s senior pastor. "It’s a big event, as far as getting people involved; it is a churchwide event. The men have sponsored it since it began but the children all the way through the older adults are participating in the cooking process or the selling or working at the church."
The Brunswick stew recipe has not changed much in the last 46 years, according to Drew Sayre.
"I think it was an old Army recipe," said Sayre, a member of the United Methodist Men. "It’s the same recipe we have been using for 45 years. It’s not real spicy; it’s better to add your own spices to it."
The stew boasts three meats — pork, beef and chicken — and vegetables including corn, crushed tomatoes, potatoes and onions along with various spices.
Tickets can be purchased through the church prior to the sale, or there will be a limited amount of stew available Saturday. The Brunswick stew is $5 a quart.
"We start cooking on Friday and we precook the meat so it won’t take too long on Saturday," Sayre said. "Then Saturday morning we chop up the vegetables and the meats and cook them all together and we put them in containers."
The men, with help from the church’s women and children, made about 800 gallons or 3,200 quarts of stew each year.
"Between 30 to 40 women help pour the stew in containers," said Steve Rothschild, president of the United Methodist Men.
The sale of the Brunswick stew begins at noon on Saturday, but the cooking process begins on Friday to get the meat ready. Then, at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, the group heads up to the Dawson County Cannery to package the stew.
"We have volunteers that take all those ingredients and put them in quarts and pints," Martin said. "We put it in steaming, burning hot tubs, we carefully package them in boxes and then we have a van with no seats in it that we transport it; and we make (about three) runs.
"We take it to the church, separate it, deliver it — whatever we can do for folks."
Rothschild and Sayre agree that the stew freezes well and both buy extra to serve up later in the year.
"I buy some extra and keep it in the freezer to pull out for a quick meal," Rothschild said.
Adds Sayre, "I’ll usually buy five or six quarts and I’ll eat them all year long; I just ate my last one from last year last week."
Along with the stew the children’s ministry will be selling homemade barbecue for $6.50 a plate, which includes a barbecue sandwich, chips, dessert and a drink. Barbecue can be purchased for $8 per pound.