Thursday, March 12, 2009

On Frying Fish...

I spent last night alongside a 75 year-old African-American man frying fish in big kettles. More on that in a moment.

With both ends of a small street blocked by patrol cars from the New Orleans police department, the ACU Spring Break Campaign team I'm part of helped host a "community block party." The Hollygrove church, recently planted by the Carrollton Avenue church, was the official host of the block party.

Free fried fish, a moon jump for children, and gospel singing led by SoHills own George Pendergrass were the ingredients of the block party... along with a big contingent of the Carrollton Avenue church and our Spring Break team. From 6-8 p.m. in 90% humidity the block was rocking. People were flowing down the streets from nearby houses to the party to be greeted, given a plate, and a heaping helping of fried fish, mashed potatoes, lemonade and the gift of a special welcome that I believe is unique to God's people. It was very cool stuff.

The diversity of the crowd was refreshing. The friendliness of those who mingled was inspiring. I people who hugged me around the neck for being one of the fish fryers. Is that cool or what?

And the fish frying... I never knew it was so fine an art form. My 75 year-old "frying tutor" was patient with me, since initially I was apparently doing everything wrong. I was stirring the fish too frequently, I was not allowing them to cook long enough, I was squeezing too much of the grease out of them (okay, I made that one up)... but after an hour of straddling a pot of boiling vegetable oil, he finally acknowledged that I "seemed to be getting the hang of it." (Yes! Another line of work to fall back on if I ever leave full-time ministry!)

The "community block party" was great... and it's something I'd like to encourage all churches to consider doing. After all, offering fish to large crowds is something Jesus did during his earthly ministry (so there's clear precedent for this kind of thing). It's a great way to meet people who drive by your church building every day but who wouldn't be comfortable stopping in on a Sunday.

And if you need a fish fryer, I'm available and experienced.