Ohio UCC churches aid Mission:1 with Italian ‘Throwdown’
Written by Jeff Woodard September 20, 2011
It started as a joke between friends.
It morphed into reality, and now there is wonder as well: Just how big will the “UCC Mission:1 Spaghetti
and Meatballs Throwdown” get in rural Wyandot County, Ohio?
day he was bragging about how he was going to make Bobby Flay meatballs, and
how great it was going to be,” said the Rev. Robin LaBolt, pastor of Sycamore
United Church of Christ. Her reference was to claims by her buddy – Pastor Dave
Jones of Trinity UCC in nearby McCutchenville – that he could rival the
culinary skills of the popular Food Network television host.
– noting her Italian-American roots and inherent ability to whip up a dazzling
dish of meatballs – couldn’t keep quiet.
can’t beat my Nana’s (grandma’s) meatballs, no way,” said a laughing LaBolt,
recalling the exchange with Jones. “He said something back, and I said, ‘Well,
I see a Throwdown in our future.’”
The rest is pasta history. Or it will be on Nov. 5. That’s when members of
the two churches will gather in the fellowship hall of Trinity UCC to raise
money and food for the UCC “Mission:1” campaign.
From Nov. 1-11, 2011 (11-1-11—11-11-11), the UCC goal will
be to collect more than 1 million food and household items for local food banks,
as well as $111,111 in online donations for hunger-related ministries
and $111,111 in online donations for East Africa famine relief. The
UCC will also ask its 5,300 congregations to advocate for hunger-related causes
worldwide via 11,111 letters to Congress.
will be fun for our churches, our members can have a good meal, and we can
benefit a great cause,” said Jones. Hopeful of filling the 400-seat Trinity
fellowship hall, LaBolt and Jones are publicizing the event in their church
newsletters and are seeking local newspaper coverage.
of the meal will be a canned good and a free will donation, said LaBolt. “Our
goal is to collect at least 1,111 items of food and raise $1,111.”
Jones, the Throwdown marks his “coming out” as a cook.
always had the passion to cook, but not much of an opportunity,” said the fan
of Flay. “‘Throwdown’ is one of my favorite shows, and when I saw him making the
spaghetti and meatballs about six months ago, I started making them. Up until
then, I couldn’t make a meatball that was worth eating. I was shocked that they
were so good.”
Mission:1 event is the latest opportunity for the two churches, separated by
only 4 miles, to fortify a long-established bond. Combined, Sycamore and
McCutchenville are home to fewer than 2,000 residents and four churches. Trinity
UCC is the only church in McCutchenville.
two communities are very inter-connected,” said LaBolt. “We have families who
are parts of both of our churches, so it’s gotten somewhat competitive, which
is really funny. And we have people in my church with family members who go to
the other two churches,” she added, referring to Catholic and Methodist
churches in Sycamore.
members of each church are gearing up for the ‘Throwdown’ by making aprons and
chef hats for LaBolt and Jones. Among the panel of judges will be Dan Busch,
Northwest Ohio Association Minister.
a lot of excitement starting to brew,” said Jones. “A lot of people are
starting to talk about it.”