Church holds ‘Blessing’ ahead of Miss. deer season

Published 2:58 pm Friday, November 13, 2009

Members of Goss Baptist Church hope for a record turnout Thursday for the annual “Blessing of the Hunt,” held each year before the opening of gun season for deer in Mississippi.

The church offers door prizes — ranging from hair cuts to a shotgun — and plans to cook several big pots of jambalaya as a way to reach people who might otherwise not go to church.

There also will be vendors from tractor, camper and sporting goods supply companies. The biggest door prize is a Chuck Wagon, the all-terrain utility vehicle, not the covered wagon like one might see in a Western movie.

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Organizers expect more than 800 people to attend this year, said Donavan McComb, the congregation’s music director. That’s a big crowd for the church, which has a weekly Sunday school service attendance of about 120 people in the small south Mississippi town of Columbia.

No, McComb said, they’re not praying for people to kill animals, but for hunters to be safe from accidents.

“We wanted to reach out to hunters in the area,” Pastor Mark McArthur said. “There were a lot of people getting hurt, falling out of tree stands and that kind of thing, and we wanted to reach out to them.”

McArthur said the event is for everyone, not just hunters, and many families attend.

The church will have a “turkey shoot” Friday and Saturday night, in which the person who shoots the best at a target wins a turkey. This Sunday is “camo day.”

“The reason we do it is to reach people for Christ that you may not reach in a normal church setting,” McComb said. “We had 34 professions of faith last year.”

This year’s guest speaker is Jason Cruise, a Franklin, Tenn., resident and founder of the Outdoor Ministry Network, which works with the Tennessee Baptist Convention to teach pastors and others how to reach men who love to hunt and fish.

The “Blessing of the Hunt” begins Thursday at 5 p.m.

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