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Church bridges communities with event

Visitors wait at the McDowell Methodist Church pancake and sausage stuffer Thursday / EOCI photo.

Those helping in the kitchen during Thursday’s McDowell Methodist Church Pancake and Sausage Stuffer could probably make pancakes with their eyes closed.

An extremely long day for a group of volunteers is rewarding in the end as it helps with fundraising efforts for the small country church a few miles southeast of Pontiac. Not only does this event help the church, but it brings Livingston County residents together each January for food and fellowship.

Volunteer Don Immke started his work around 5 a.m. and visitors showed up by 6 a.m. to eat.

“They had to wait a little while but we got them fed and pushed through,” Immke said.

The pancake tradition goes back more than 70 years as many fourth generation individuals are now helping with the meal.

“There is just a lot of history and people that might not come to church here but their family roots bring them back to help us out with this day,” added Immke.

Immke joked about sneaking a nap on a church pew in the middle of the afternoon, although he may not have been kidding. Some of the helpers work part of the day as they have to head off to work while others spend the whole time at the church. There have been a few changes during the past 72 years.

“I saw a ticket from 1977 and the hours were 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. so obviously over the years, things have been changed,” noted Immke.

It may be hard work, but everyone involved seems to have fun doing it. Years ago, one or two people were in charge of the entire day but now everything is broken down into different segments so everyone has a job they are responsible for. Immke said the church is open to change which is a good thing.

Plenty of farmers gather in the church basement to solve the world’s problems over pancakes and coffee. Immke, a farmer himself, spent time in the dining room visiting with fellow growers about the 2019 season and how they hope 2020 is different.

One of the faces visitors see when entering the sanctuary to wait for their number to be called is that of Freddie Immke. He stays in close contact with basement personnel on available seating.

“I get to see a lot of people – some that I see only here,” Immke chuckled.

Immke and his wife Barb have helped out for the last 20 years ever since their previous church closed.

“We’ve got great people,” Immke said.

Church members thank Terry Bittner at the Chenoa Locker for assistance with the meat preparations, calling him an asset to the church.

The 2020 meal list includes: 36 gallons of whole white milk, five cases of applesauce, 12 cases of pancake mix, 34 dozen eggs, 12 cases of syrup, 36 pounds of margarine, two gallons of Wesson oil and two pounds of salt – not to mention the coffee, paper towels and chocolate milk.

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