Two congregations have a long-standing tradition of serving up pancakes and sausage in the first month of the new year.
Mt. Vernon UMC, located in the Iroquois River District, held its 51st annual fundraiser on Jan. 19, while the McDowell UMC, located in the Vermilion River District, held its 71st pancake and sausage stuffer Jan. 10..
Mt. Vernon UMC
Last year, the men of the church served more than 300 guests and sold the extra pounds of pork sausage processed from eight hogs, which were donated by a neighboring farmer, Robert Furtney. Although Furtney is not a member of the Mt. Vernon congregation, he has been donating the hogs and having them processed for the church for many years, returning a kindness encouraged by his father.
This year’s event attracted more than 200 in the midst of a snowstorm. Because the fundraiser has never been cancelled in 51 years Trustee and President of the men’s group, Bob Sherman, the Hensley Township supervisor, made sure the road to the church remained open, and the men of the church served the guests and sold the extra pounds of pork sausage.
Trustee Dave Weckhorst reported that there were about 15 to 20 gallons of pancake mix and over 700 pounds of sausage consumed or sold. Mr. Weckhorst also reported that many gallons of coffee were brewed all day long and at least 15 crates of half-gallon orange juice cartons were also consumed.
While the organizers feared the weather would result in a bad year for the fundraiser, they were surprised at the turnout and the money they raised, which was only about $1,500 less than last year when there were ideal conditions and many more people served. Proceeds from the pancake and sausage dinner are donated to local service organizations: Cunningham Children’s Home, Chaddock, Restoration Ministries, Mahomet Youth, Helping Hands, and Salt & Light.
Also, the women of the church held a bake sale to raise money for their mission activities. There were piles of cookies, candy, pies, and cakes prepared by the women. Guests had a chance to purchase delicious desserts on their way out. The proceeds from the bake sale was a little over $180.
The pancake and sausage fundraiser has become a popular event for many in the area, who find their way to the country church at the crossroads. A ham and bean dinner and by 1971, the pancake and sausage meal was instituted. The quality of the sausage and pancakes and hospitality bring people back year after year to enjoy the food and to visit with old friends. Last year, the bulk sausage sold out the day of the event.
Proceeds from the pancake and sausage dinner are used to contribute to local service organizations: Cunningham Children’s Home, Chaddock, Restoration Ministries, Mahomet Youth, Helping Hands, and Salt & Light, as well as some international missions the church sponsors.
In the tiny Livingston County village of McDowell, 65 gather on a Sunday morning for worship. But on the second Thursday in January, the church has been rolling out pancakes and sausage for the public since its first pancake and sausage stuffer in 1949.
It’s “all hands on deck” for serving the crowds and the process is a well-oiled operation. With seating for about 80 at a time. People are handed a number when they come in and are ushered to the church’s sanctuary to wait on seating.
When a person’s number is called they proceed to the basement to be seated for an all you can eat pancake and sausage breakfast complete with milk, juice or coffee and a side of apple sauce. The church scheduled the event on Thursdays because when they started, attorneys in nearby Pontiac would take Thursday afternoon off and the event quickly caught on and attracts large crowds regardless of the weather.
The township makes sure the roads stay clear in inclement weather.
The 2019 stuffer served 1,414 people. Church members cleaned and prepared hogs with a combined live weight total of 4,250 pounds. Less than 100 pounds was left to sell the following day with the remaining amount served to customers both with pancakes and in bulk sales. The church used 156 boxes of pancake mix, 168 bottles of pancake syrup, one case of 12 bottles of sugar-free syrup, 38 dozen eggs, 92 gallons, 180 pounds of applesauce, 45 pounds of margarine and 20 pounds of coffee.
The church uses the fundraiser to pay its conference apportionments in full for the year and the payment is made by the end of January. Apportionments are the first benevolent responsibility of each congregation, according to the Book of Discipline.
(Information was provided by Phyllis Godwin of Mt. Vernon UMC and George Lane of McDowell UMC).