Residents in a southwestern Georgia farming community have a name for the sweet aroma rising from barbecue grills scattered across the grounds of the Macedonia Baptist Church community center.
They call it “holy smoke” — and for good reason.
More than a dozen churches sent their top pit bosses for the 20th annual Holy Smoke Christian Barbecue Competition, a fundraiser that supports Christian ministries serving abused and neglected children.
Macedonia Baptist Church pastor Robert Orr said he couldn’t imagine a more fitting name than Holy Smoke for such an event, especially in a region known for barbecue. Orr has been involved in the event from the get-go.
Gene Roberts, associational missions strategist for Summerhill Baptist Association, said Holy Smoke has raised well over $130,000 for children’s homes in southwest Georgia over the past two decades. The money is generated through donations, food sales and a cake auction.
Orr said organizers hope to meet or exceed last year’s nearly $18,000.
Florida resident Russ Kern drove up a day early to be part of the event.
“It’s a wonderful time,” Kern said. “We have great food, great fellowship and great music. Everything about it is great, especially the cakes.”
Those cakes are prized.
People always bid top dollar for the desserts prepared in the kitchens of some of the best bakers in the Deep South. It’s not unusual for their creations to sell in the $1,000 to $2,000 range, and people still talk about the one that fetched an all-time high of $2,300.
The cakes are delicious but it’s the cause that motivates bidders to write big checks.
“These are the most giving people you will ever be around,” Orr said.
‘Joy on their faces’
Danny Craft, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church Dawsonville, said the focus of the event is always on the children whose broken homes and dysfunctional families have made them wards of the state.
“The kids need our love and support,” Craft said. “Whatever we can do as churches to help, we have to do it.”
Roberts said churches put in hours to make Holy Smoke a success, yet they make it look easy.
“You can see the joy on their faces,” he said. “They love raising this money for the kids.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Roger Alford and originally published by the Christian Index.