Thirteen different chili recipes lined the pop-up tables at New Hope Church in Detroit Lakes on Sunday.
The Oct. 31 event followed their afternoon service and kept many of the parishioners eating, and socializing, long after the last prayers were said.
"It smells good in here," said Zach Priddy, lead pastor at New Hope Church. "I preached fast today. It's probably my shortest (sermon) in a long time."
Priddy said his church tries to do these community events once per month and encourages members of the congregation to bring a friend to see the kind of special religious community they've crafted.
"We want it to be like a community, we want it to be like a family and just love each other and love God," he said. "We want to be a church that gives people a fresh start."
Priddy pointed out the sign displayed near the entry door reads: "Hope starts here."
"When people walk in, I want them to know that no matter what their past was, they get a fresh start," he said.
Samantha Jerger, a New Hope Church chili contestant, said it's fun to make chili, but it's better when it's for a competition.
"I actually use a different recipe every time," said Jerger. "I feel like it's just bringing everybody together and having so much fellowship."
She added that she makes her chili gluten-free because her children suffer from celiac disease, a condition that causes an immune reaction in the body from gluten.
"You just have to make sure that the broth you use, or anything you use in it, doesn't have wheat," said Jerger. "Otherwise, it's just a normal chili."
Jerger has also started a program through the church called Trauma Reboot, in an effort to get more people comfortable with talking about traumatic events and build a community with others who may have had similar experiences.
"The one we are doing right now is just for trauma in general, but there are other courses that we'll offer in the future," she said.
The winners of the event were:
- First Place - Zach Priddy
- Second Place - Jim Jenson
- Third Place - Joe Graham
After the contest, Jim Jenson shared his secret for making outstanding chili.
"It's that extra touch of brown sugar," said Jenson. "I started it yesterday afternoon, it's a slow cook, a good 12 or 13 hours."
He added that people making chili should not be afraid of cumin either, which is an important part of Jenson's chili.
"(The cook-off) was awesome and this church is awesome," said Jenson