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Weesatche church hosts festival (video)

By Elena Watts
Sept. 21, 2013 at 4:21 a.m.

John Creech, of Lake Jackson, and Ronnie Bailey, of Weesatche, prepare to deliver more brisket to the Festival of Joy inside the parish hall at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Weesatche on Saturday.

WEESATCHE - The pastoral back roads that lead to St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Weesatche are the perfect prelude to the Festival of Joy.

More than 150 members and friends of the church added to the charm when they gathered in the parish hall for barbecue, potato salad and beans Saturday.

"This event is about opening the church to the community and the surrounding area for fellowship and to give thanks to God for what He has given us," said C.B. Suggs, the minister at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church for more than 12 years.

Weesatche residents began festival preparations well in advance for their church.

Jerry Sharp and Ronnie Bailey cooked 20 briskets overnight, Donna Parkinson and her helpers prepared 100 pounds of potato salad, and Vaughan Kelley made 40 pounds of beans, combined with two hams and 36 pounds of onions.

JoLynn Bethke, 69, of Weesatche, chaired the church's fifth festival.

The sale of $8 barbecue plates, $10 cookbooks, $10 and $22 T-shirts, silent and live auction items and homemade baked, canned and embroidered goods raised money for scholarships and a new outdoor pavilion.

"We gave eight $500 scholarships this fall with money we raised at the last festival," Bethke said.

The live auction is always fun because Butch Dohmann, the volunteer auctioneer, cracks jokes and keeps it lively, Bethke said.

"I like the excitement of the live auction," Parkinson said. "The bidding gets competitive, and it's fun to see who wins."

Hosting the event is about teamwork and community service, Parkinson said.

"It's wonderful to see friends from church and other congregations," said Alma Suggs, the minister's wife. "We get to laugh and talk in an environment that is not so structured."

Visiting pastors included Randy Bruno from St. John's Lutheran Church in Goliad, David Parks from the Trail Head Cowboy Church in Goliad, Jay Fleming from First Baptist Church in Goliad and Barbara Beale from Zion Lutheran Church in Arneckeville.

From 1902 to 2013, 20 pastors have served the congregation, Suggs said.

More than 250 members currently belong to St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, which was organized in 1891 when Weesatche was still known as the community of Middletown.

The original structure, built on 3 donated acres for $1,000, was dedicated in 1893 along with a $40 organ.

In 1929, a new church was erected that still serves the congregation.

Church renovations and repairs in 1964 were followed by the addition of central air conditioning and heat in 1972.

The last renovation in 1983 included a new organ, carpet and lighted cross.

In addition to plans for a new pavilion, the cemetery will soon see expansion because it is full, Bethke said.



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