Get Ready for the Lord’s Acre Sale Oct. 17
Mark your calendars for 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, for an old-time auction with good food and fellowship to raise money for the needy. It’s time for the annual Lord’s Acre Sale at Elm Grove Church in rural Rogersville and a 40+ year reunion of neighbors, friends, family, church-goers and not.
This year’s event will begin at 10 a.m. under the outdoor pavilion and continue until all is sold. Food, including the church’s famous Elm Grove chili, will be available, following new safety protocols. Social distancing and masks will be required.
Some items to be auctioned are posted on the church’s Facebook page.
The small United Methodist Church at 111 Elm Grove Road and Highway U between Rogersville and Sparta has been hosting the auction since 1974 or 1975 when former Pastors John Chaffin and Jerry Humble were in the pulpit. According to long-time member Alen Roller, it started when the church decided it needed to drill its own well rather than rely on the well across the highway at the site of the old Elm Grove School.
To raise money for the new well, the congregation borrowed a fundraising idea from a member who had attended a church in north Missouri that hosted an annual benevolence auction. Farm folks shared produce, livestock, wood and homemade goods. Elm Grove members liked the idea, and that’s been the model ever since.
“It started with my mom and dad and Johnnie Chaffin. Truman Dennis also helped,” Sue Phillips of Strafford recalled. She grew up in the church, was baptized there and comes back for the auction. “It brings us all together…We have a lot of old ones who used to go, but now their kids or grandkids come.”
“People come year after year for certain things they know will be auctioned,” Roller added. It could be cream pies, angel food cakes, hot sauce, elderberry jelly or cinnamon rolls, all made by members. Or you might come for a load of wood, bales of hay, bags of walnuts, stained glass, hand-made quilts, craft items and garden produce. In years past, livestock, dressed and live rabbits and a litter of pups have been auctioned off.
“It’s somewhat of a reunion now where we get to see a lot of people who have moved away. They come back to see friends and family. Some people come to buy only certain things they know will be there,” Roller said.
Retired auctioneers Tom Lightner and Earl Jones officiated for years at the Lord’s Acre Sale, succeeded by Larry and Terry McKnight. Lightner’s son-in-law, Curt Blount, a regular attendee of Elm Grove, serves as official clerk. The auction raises between $5,000 and $8,000, depending on items and attendance.
Lightner, who started auctioneering at age 14, said, “Elm Grove is a church that always does for people. If someone needs help, they’re there for them. No other church goes out of its way like Elm Grove. You don’t have to be a member for them to help you.
“A regular sale is kind of boring compared to the Lord’s Acre Sale,” he added. “It’s been a really good experience through the years, and the Lord has blessed me for it. … It’s been a blessing for the community.”
Though the first auction raised money for a well, and some funds have gone towards church improvements like its fellowship hall, long-time member Anna Mae Davis said most of the money raised now goes to benevolences. When tornadoes struck Clever, Elm Grove Church donated money to families there who had no insurance. Marionville and Joplin tornado victims also have benefited from Lord’s Acre donations, as have more local families in need. The auction benefits the Logan-Rogersville School District’s annual shoe drive and backpack programs and donations to Convoy of Hope and Least of These.
“People in our rural community support the auction because they know we support them and others in need,” Roller said. “They come for a good time and lots of laughs but also for a good cause.”