By Debra Smith Herald Writer
EVERETT — Phil Thompson can’t help but notice the complexity and beauty of God’s creation when he’s trekking through the wilderness on a hunting trip.
His church found a way to bring that back to their congregation and the general public at what’s become a popular tradition: the wild meat dinner.
Every year for a quarter of a century, Bethany Christian Assembly has offered up the best of the hunt: elk, venison, bear, ostrich, wild turkey and even cougar.
Members of the church provide the meat from their own freezers. They spend all day long grinding it into meatballs, slathering it with barbecue sauce and roasting it tender and juicy.
They decorate the church gym with game trophies, including stuffed deer heads and mounted cougars.
Then they serve the wild meat to whomever shows up.
Thompson helped start the first wild meat dinner 25 years ago. It was the pastor’s idea, a way to attract people to the church who might not normally show up.
“It’s a way to reach people who might never come through the church door,” Thompson said.
At last Saturday’s dinner, more than 300 people showed up, and more than half were people who didn’t belong to the congregation.
The church brings in speakers who tell a good hunting yarn. Everybody sits down and enjoys a selection of meats. Most of what’s offered is hard to come by in a world where most people don’t hunt what they eat.
Cougar is one of the more popular wild meats to try because its more unusual. It has a unique, mellow flavor. Thompson described cougar meat as “recycled deer and elk meat.”
“No, it doesn’t taste like chicken,” he said.
The church, 2715 Everett Ave., is affiliated with the Assemblies of God. It has a congregation of several thousand and its lead pastor is Rob Carlson.
Last week’s meat dinner raised $7,500. The money will pay for literature that missionaries give out.
Reporter Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or firstname.lastname@example.org