Last Saturday proved to be an idyllic fall day, complete with blue sky, gentle breezes and lots of sunshine. This is the season many organizations and churches are holding craft fairs, bazaars, and in the case of Poage’s Mill Church of the Brethren, Fall Festivals. Route 221 had small hand-painted signs every half mile from the Kroger on Brambleton directing motorists to their church 3 ½ miles down the road.
The congregation of 150 has accumulated quite a following for their homemade apple butter, according to E.B. Shoemaker, their Pastor for the past five years. With a giant kettle containing a fresh batch of apple butter simmering out back, the day got off to a great start with homemade breakfast served from 8 to 9:30. Many of the church’s congregation was on hand to help prepare breakfast, sell baked goods and some yard sale items, as well as prepare freshly pressed apple cider (served at no cost) with a 100-year-old press.
Others manned the funnel cake and caramel apple station, while the age-old tradition of preparing apple butter fell to several of the men who seemed quite at home with the process. Shoemaker referred to church member Harold Stump as the “chief of apple butter; [he] knows what to do and how to put it together.” Stump studied his measuring spoons and carefully added spices according to an old family recipe, which no one seemed to know the exact origins of. Stump has made it “since 1992, 75 kettles since [I] started.” Everyone agreed that the church’s apple butter is some of the best around, drawing in many from the community who don’t want to miss getting a couple more jars each year.
This event “involves most of the church” according to Shoemaker, who added “the community really comes out for it.” The main draw for those stopping in seems to be the apple butter, but many enjoyed the fellowship, and looking over a display of Edward Light’s (son of the church’s oldest member Ezra Light, 95) homemade miniature wood cabins, as well as the goodies for sale both inside and outside the building.
The picturesque church building is a perfect setting for those out on that short fall excursion – with enough history in the old structure to be a satisfying stop on a fall weekend drive. Couples have planned to be married there because of its beauty and nostalgic appeal. The large wooden beams and beautiful stained glass windows are worth the visit; the apple butter is the icing on the cake.
The old kettle was turning out another perfect batch around 3:00; both quart and pint jars are still for sale, with proceeds being divided between the church’s benevolent fund and the establishment / update of the church’s website.
For more information, or to buy apple butter at $8 quart/ $5 pint, or Light’s miniature cabins, contact the church at 774-2379. Poage’s Mill Church of the Brethren is located at 6550 Bent Mountain Road.By Cheryl Hodges [email protected]