Church Missions Coordinator Lucinda Stern, who has headed the auction since its inception, said the event’s success is a result of the church’s “heart for missions.”
“We’re not a big, powerful church with lots of money. Most of our people are hourly workers. It’s like God said about the auction, ‘OK, ya’ll can do this,’” Stern said.
Craftsmen and artisans in the rural congregation begin creating items for next year’s auction each January. However, the church’s mission team—including some “young people with some new ideas,” Stern said—wait anxiously for the items to arrive for the displays the week before the auction.
“I always get nervous the week before, and the team teases me about having ‘little faith,’ but then people start bringing their things in,” Stern said.
The 2013 auction included a homemade quilt that was bought for $1,000, and the purchasers then gave the quilt to the new LaCrosse campus of Florida Baptist Children’s Home.
Lamar Williams, who makes turkey callers and knives, donated a skinning knife, and a fruitcake made by 80-year-old Alsine Crawford, sold for $500. A young mother stenciled a plate, “Cookies for Santa Clause,” and other ladies put together themed baskets. A Duck Dynasty basket that included books by the Robertson Family, fat lighter (fire starter), and iced tea glasses, sold for about $100. Sacks of fresh oranges from central Florida sold for $28 per sack.
Cakes are baked and then “dressed up” for the auction. A store owner donated a Vera Bradley ensemble, and a farmer offered rolls of hay. A furniture maker re-purposed an antique sewing machine as a table, and an artisan painted an ostrich egg. Bags of shelled pecans were auctioned and Christmas wreaths are always a popular seasonal item.
Stern’s husband, Roland, bought his wife a carving by new church member Jeff Morgan. The Indian face fashioned from swamp magnolia wood caught her eye as soon as she saw it.
“This is really a win, win, win situation for everybody involved. Our folks get to show their crafts, we get to buy things that we like, and Lottie Moon gets money for missions,” Stern said.
Annually, on the first Sunday evening of December, the congregation moves to the armory at nearby Camp Blanding for a fellowship meal—a “Birthday Party for Jesus”—and the auction.
Auctioneer Bill Elrod from Middleburg makes it fun. About 50 items are sold in the verbal auction, and another 100 items are bid on in a silent auction. Around 200 church members were present for the December celebration.
Although no goal is set for the auction, the mission team always aims to exceed the preceding year’s total during the auction, Stern said.
“Anytime the total goes over $10,000, we dance in the street, nearly,” she said. “After all these years, it still amazes us. God still uses our people to do this.”
The church goes beyond supporting missions financially by building wells in Sudan and Brazil, and volunteering at mission sites in the U.S.
Pastor Zeb Cook, who participated in his third annual auction this year, said the church hears about the Lottie Moon Offering all year.
“New folks in the church who know nothing about the Lottie Moon Offering or the auction learn about missions through it, so we push missions all year. It is the heartbeat of the church,” he said.
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.