COEUR d’ALENE — Pastor Bobby Stanchfield would very much like for you to experience eternal salvation.
First, though, you’ve gotta try some heavenly brisket.
Foundation Baptist Church, which Stanchfield leads, is kicking off its 2019 summer revival with a barbecue competition. Judging — an activity Christianity tends to proscribe — begins at 5 p.m. on Friday at the church, 296 W. Sunset Ave. in Coeur d’Alene.
At least four other Inland Northwest Baptist churches plan to participate in the competition, which will pay at least partial heed to the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel. Chapter 24, verse 10 admonishes believers to “heap on the wood and kindle the fire. Cook the meat well, mixing in the spices, and let the bones be charred.”
There beginneth the lesson.
And that’s Dave McCracken’s cue. The self-described “independent, fundamental, premillennial Baptist evangelist” comes to the revival every three years. He cherishes the King James version of scripture the way some barbecue lovers cherish the wafting smoke of slow-burning mesquite. So much so that he speaks for free.
“McCracken comes by faith,” Stanchfield said.
The local event traces its genesis to Pastor Greg Perkins of Liberty Baptist Church in Republic, Wash. Brother Greg created a loose affiliation of more than two dozen churches he calls the Baptist Barbecue Association 14 years ago. It started with “Revive 395,” a series of revivals along U.S. Route 395 where believers would barbecue and host meetings. The gathering has morphed into a competition. “It gives people some fun,” Perkins said. “Everyone’s a little too serious and overbooked.”
Foundation Baptist Church has fewer than 60 worshippers in attendance every Sunday. Stanchfield is expecting a full crowd of familiar Baptists and is hoping to see some new faces as well.
Man, of course, cannot live by bread alone. The menu also includes a dozen racks of ribs, a couple briskets and loads of barbecued chicken. Baptists like to eat, Pastor Perkins said, and they really like to eat barbecue.
For those who may be more interested in the spiritual offerings, the summer revival events will continue Sunday at 9:30 and 10:45 a.m. and 7 p.m., and Monday and Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Stanchfield said the event will offer fellowship in addition to the free food. The barbecue is open to the public, and individuals do not need to be members of the church to attend.
“There is no preaching service, and we just want to show everyone that we love them because the Lord loves them,” Stanchfield said.
Presbyterians, beware: The event’s tagline is “worship that smokes the competition.”
Staff writer Julia Bennett contributed to this story.