Seventh-graders around Thomson were kidnapped last weekend and stripped of their dignity. In fact, many of them were missing some teeth and shoes by Saturday night.
But it was all in fun.
The annual Back To School Bash began Friday night at First United Methodist Church of Thomson and continued through Saturday night.
"It's the new youth weekend, and we go and kidnap the up and coming seventh-graders," said Leigh Anne Cowart, who serves as a youth counselor at the church.
The bash began with praise and worship/pizza/cosmic bowling on Friday night and ended with a hillbilly-themed cookout on Saturday. The side lawn of the church was transformed into a hillbilly's yard, complete with an old, rusty pickup truck with a dog lying under it and a log-rolling venue. The sounds of Bluegrass streaming from a WTHO radio van added to the mood.
Everyone, no matter their age, dressed down for the evening. The dinner menu included typical cookout fare, in addition to Little Debbie Cake ® desserts served from an old shopping cart and cold drinks. For the hard-nosed hillbillies, bottled water could be retrieved from a toilet that had been packed with ice and converted into a cooler.
"It's all about their spiritual development. But they have fun, too," Jeff Cowart said.
There are approximately 70 seventh - 12th graders in the youth group, Mr. Cowart said.
In addition to the Cowart's, other youth counselors at the church include Harold and Kathy Hinesley, Mike and Heather Smallwood and Richie and Jennifer Brunner. This year's youth directors are Mike and Sharon Wall. Mathew Funk is youth minister.
They meet for "life groups" on Sunday mornings, Bible study and game time on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, at Sonic after school on Thursdays and for prayer breakfast on Friday mornings.
Many of the teens are not bound by denominational lines and attend youth activities at both the Methodist church and First Baptist Church of Thomson, Mrs. Cowart said.
"Ours is Sunday nights and theirs is Wednesday, so we cross-pollinate with the Baptist youth," she explained.
For more information, call First United Methodist Church of Thomson at 706-595-4252