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Cornelius News

Bethel BBQ Sept. 26 will be the last one

Barbara Dresser serving BBQ

Sept. 9. By Dave Yochum. The 25th Annual Bethel Presbyterian Church BBQ Sept. 26 will be the last one at the historic Cornelius Church. Rising costs and changing demographics and tastes are to blame.

But this is not the church’s final mission event by any means.

The barbecue has helped more than 20 local charities and netted over $550,000. The signs always say the BBQ runs from “11 am till.”


“We look forward to at least another 25 years of partnering with our Cornelius, Huntersville, Davidson, and Mooresville neighbors to make a positive impact for Jesus Christ in the local area,” said the Rev. Thomas Boone, senior pastor at Bethel Presbyterian.

The amount sent to local non-profits is astonishing, Boone said: “We could not have done this without the community supporting this event so with this 25th anniversary event we wish to say a big thank you.”

But attendance has gone down over the last couple of years, while costs have gone up.

Allen Cook, one of the organizers, says traffic congestion around dinner time is partly to blame.

The lunch served inside the Family Life Center was a place to see and be seen, as well as support mission work. It features bake sales and a silent auction—homey stuff that helped define Cornelius. Politicians, who knew where to find a crowd at the beginning of election seasons, were faithful attendees.

Boone said the church wants to be “responsible stewards” of everyone’s resources.

“Having BBQ as our annual mission event has been great, but the overhead for this piece of the mission event has increased to the point that we need to go in a different direction,” he said.

The BBQ  price on Sept. 26 will still be $9 for plate with beans and slaw, or $9 for three sandwiches. A pound of BBQ is $12 to go.

“When people are supporting this annual mission event we want to give more to our partners than to the overhead needed to run the event,” Boone said, explaining the dynamics of a big event with food and staff.

“Over time the principal drivers of our funds have been through the silent auction, and quilt and bake sales,” he said.

What’s planned for 2020 isn’t official, but Boone said it will be even bigger than our current BBQ and will have less overhead, “which means that more of our dollars will go directly to support local charities.”

The bake sale and silent auction will continue next year.

“Thank you to the community for contributing goods and services that inspire people to support what we all want to do together: Make a better community,” Boone said.

We quoted Boone in a story when he came to Bethel in 2017:

“There’s so much that seems to be in flux. I’m in the school of thought that what we’re seeing is a combination of post-secularity—people saying they don’t need organized religion to connect to God—and not adapting to meet the needs of millennials [which are] cause-driven, short-term commitment expectations, minimal financial impact. Add to this that we live in a fluid environment where mobility is normative.”

Natalie, Nancy and former Sen. Jeff Tarte


The assembled multitudes