Tragedy struck Langley Baptist Church on Sunday afternoon when every covered dish at the church’s monthly potluck was a green bean casserole. Stunned onlookers watched in horror as family after family arrived with the same popular side dish in tow. By the time grace was said over the meal, there were over twenty-five green bean casseroles lining the buffet table with no meat dish in sight.
Marilyn Perkins, supervisor of the Langley Baptist potluck, recalls the terror of witnessing the casseroles flooding in. “I’ve heard scary stories from other churches about excess hominy, but you never think it’s going to happen to your church,” she said in tears. “All I could think at the time was, Why us, Lord… why us?”
Repercussions from the church disaster were felt throughout the community as area grocers reported a shortage of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup and French’s French Fried Onions.
A few brave church members weathered the green bean avalanche by using large amounts of sweet tea to wash it down, while others, dazed and hungry, fled to their homes. A small faction of survivors, led by Jim Fairbanks, found shelter at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant. “Deacon Fairbanks was quick-thinking and saved my life,” said Anita West. “Just when I was about to go down, he threw me a Happy Meal. I was able to cling to that until help arrived.”
Deacon Fairbanks, however, shrugged off Mrs. West’s praise. “The real hero was Frank Woodburn, who tripped while helping other members cross the parking lot to the golden arches. I’ll never forget him lying there on the concrete, refusing my outstretched hand and screaming, ‘Save yourself!’ Now that’s a true hero. Frank will be missed.”
Despite the initial panic, church officials were able to restore order and send people home without further incident. Reports of one member being detained for trying to sneak extra wafers out of the church’s communion tray could not be confirmed.
In the aftermath of the ill-fated potluck, theories abounded as to why this catastrophe took place. Speculation on the cause ran the gamut from the 25 cent sale on Libby’s Green Beans at McGonigle’s Market to a sure sign of the Apocalypse. The main theological issue under debate, however, was whether it was part of God’s eternal decree or the tragic outcome of man’s free will exercising the right to bring a lame side dish to church.
Church member Claude Anderson believes it was God’s judgment. “I’ve told them for twenty years they shouldn’t be calling it a pot-luck,“ explained Anderson. “God doesn’t deal in luck. I just hope this affront to His sovereignty doesn’t ruin my chances with the Powerball. I’m feeling pretty good about my numbers this week. Cross my fingers.”
Seven-year-old Kenny Myers, son of Todd and Carrie Myers, tried to put things in the proper perspective. “I’m just glad they weren’t brussels sprouts. For real, I woulda puked.”
Dale Morton, pastor at Langley Baptist, planned to hold a special service next Sunday to help his congregation deal with the emotional effects of the disaster. “This is a hard time for my flock,” explained Morton, “and I’m not sure the Bible has all the answers for a tragedy like this. I mean, come on! That’s a lot of green bean casserole, even for Baptists.”
When asked if the story of the Israelites complaining about the provision of God’s manna would have any significance for his congregation at this time, Pastor Morton grimaced. “Well, crud… I didn’t even think about that. Now I’m going to have to trash the analogy to Stephen’s martyrdom and rewrite my whole sermon.”
This article was originally posted in 2008.