FLINT – There is a hymn sung in several East Texas churches and across the country called “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.”
A verse in that song goes a little like this, “Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me ’till I want no more”.
When thinking of church, a good hot meal might not come to mind, but there is one church in East Texas that leaves the soul spiritually fed and on certain Sundays also leaves stomachs full.
That church is Galilee Baptist Church in Flint.
On April 27, the church hosted its annual Family & Friends Day. It was a pretty cool event.
But it’s what goes on behind the scenes at this church that made it an even more special event.
Several of the women at this church are part of the “Kitchen Ministry.”
The committee consists of about 10 dedicated women, who go by the name “The Galilee Divas,” or DIVAS, meaning: Divinely Inspired Victorious Anointed Sisters.
On these special days, some of the women prepare dishes at home. But most of the hard-cooking is done by the kitchen staff at the church.
The DIVAS typically arrive at Galilee Baptist Church about two to three hours before the service begins and cook non-stop. After service, people can enjoy a home-cooked meal from scratch.
They serve everything from fried and baked chicken to roast, ham and just about every side dish and salad you can name.
Galilee Baptist Church has been serving food for special church services for years.
Loretta Oliver took over as the Kitchen Ministry’s president back in 2011 after the resignation of another great cook, Estella Henry. Her business is Angelic Catering & Event Planning.
“I love what I do,” Ms. Oliver said. “I am doing the Lord’s will and being a servant.”
Another influence behind the DIVAS is Gail Scott. She brings laughter and a big smile while helping prepare dishes for these special occasions. Ms. Scott said it brings her joy to be a part of this ministry.
You can tell their cooking is from the heart. These women always keep smiles on their faces while cooking!
They are always laughing and joking, and if you’re not careful, you’ll hear one or two humming church songs.
The food presentation looks amazing, and a lot of work is involved.
Normally, about a couple of weeks before the scheduled event, Loretta Oliver will go to church members, asking them to bring various items such as vegetables, desserts, salads, etc.
On the morning of the special church service, members will show up with the items they were asked to bring.
“We depend on certain people to bring stuff, but it puts us in a bind when they don’t,” Gail Scott said. “But we always have a back-up plan.
“I’m happy to do what I do and share my talents in the kitchen. It makes me feel good to see others enjoy the wonderful meals we prepare.”
There is really no crowd too large or small this group of women can’t handle.
Ms. Oliver said that on the recent Family & Friends Day, the church fed between 300 to 400 people, including regular church members and family and friends of church members.
The DIVAS also prepare special meals at least five or six times a year – musician appreciations, church anniversary, pastor’s anniversary and the homecoming and revival, just to name a few.
The DIVAS are taking a small break. Their next event will be Aug. 17, which is the church’s annual Homecoming and Revival. A large crowd of around 300 to 400 is expected.
Senior pastor the Rev. Anthony Williams said he is extremely proud of this group of women.
“It’s been a big help to the church,” Williams said. “This group of women works well together and definitely knows how to handle a crowd.”
I’m one of the youngest and newest DIVAS members.
No stranger to what goes into preparing a home-cooked meal from scratch, I grew up in Mt. Enterprise, a small town in Rusk County.
Here, many days were spent watching Grandmother, Corine Caddell, now deceased, cook hot meals.
I love being around the DIVAS. They are patient in teaching new things.
Yes, I can cook – but it brings me joy when these women compliment me on my dishes.
I know my grandmother would be proud.
Coretta Williams is morning show producer for KYTX CBS19.