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2024 Blessing of the Crops
Bulloch residents offer prayers for a bountiful farming season
Blessing of the Crops 2024
Some of the crowd of about 200 that came out to the annual Blessing of the Crops event are shown with their heads bowed in prayer. Held Tuesday, March 5, at the Hunter Cattle Company farm in Stilson, folks offered their hopes for a bountiful harvest season in 2024. (JIM HEALY/staff)

About 200 people gathered on a foggy, cool Tuesday morning to share their prayers and hopes for a bountiful harvest in 2024 during the annual Blessing of the Crops.

Sponsored by the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Chairman Michelle Davis called the event, held this year at the Hunter Cattle Company farm in Stilson, "the most humbling and inspirational thing we do every year."

"There is lots of Scripture in the Old and New Testaments, but one stuck out to me," she said. "It comes from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 30, Verse 23, and it reads: 'Whenever you plant your crops, the Lord will send rain to make them grow and will give you a rich harvest, and your livestock will have plenty of pasture.'

"So, even Isaiah, in 700 BC, understood the importance and the reverence of what we're doing today and pray over the harvest and seek the Lord's blessing. It is truly a humbling experience to be part of this."

Brannen Smith with Morris Bank echoed Davis in his welcome to the crowd.

"Each year this event shows how much this community not only supports our agribusiness community and our farmers, but allows us to get together and pray together," he said. "We get to thank the good Lord, who makes these farmers, these families and this community and gives us the sunshine and gives us the rain, and we get to openly thank him for that."

As emcee, Joey Fennell, a patient peer advocate at East Georgia Regional Medical Center and a private counselor with Bluewater Counseling, then welcomed Kristen Fretwell to speak. Fretwell and her family own the Hunter Cattle Company.

Fretwell related the story of how her father, Del Ferguson, started the farm as a way to raise grass-fed-only cattle for beef that she could digest easily because it always gave her a stomach ache. She spoke about how the business was nearly taken down by the recession of 2008. And she related a story she said, jokingly, "made her like her dad a whole lot more."

She said she was headed to a business meeting with her father one morning and a whole lot was riding on the meeting. She asked him how he was doing and he replied, "I feel freer than ever."

Stunned, she asked him how that could be. He told her that after living his life believing that he had to be in control, that he was the one to make everything work, he had finally understood that it was "God who was in control. And that feeling of faith made him free."

Hunter Cattle is now a thriving cattle and pig farm that processes its meat on site, as well. Its meat products have won several awards and is shipped to stores all over the southeast.

Fennell then offered the first prayer of the morning.

"We're here to pause and to pray for the bounty that's ahead of us and all the things that need to happen between now and harvest time," he said. "We pray for the ground itself and the preparation of it. We pray for seeds, equipment and labor and health to accomplish all this."

Fennell invited anyone in the gathered crowd to share a prayer with the group, if they felt so moved. And for more than 15 minutes, people bowed their heads and listened to the prayers of their neighbors.

"I thank you, Lord, for the farmers and the helpers and for everyone that is part of this wonderful community," prayed Carolyn Etheridge. "Lord, help us be mindful of all that goes into planting the seed and growing the crop and what it provides for our community and the world as a whole. We ask for your protection over all our farm families and all those (who) come together to help this be a productive harvest year."

"I ask you, Lord, to be with us this farming season," shared Wayne Brannen. "I thank you, Father, that you have given us, in your sovereignty, to be the stewards of this good land. Lord, I do pray that you will bless each and every one that's involved with this industry. It's not just the farmers. We play an important role in tilling the soil and raising the livestock. But there are many supporting industries that we depend upon so much, and we thank you for giving us that good support group."

Wayne Brannen
Wayne Brannen

Pastor Dean Robbins, with Lanes Primitive Baptist Church in Brooklet, prayed:

"We are reminded in your Word that it is in you that we live and move and have our very being. We come before you, Lord, as a community and ask that you would pour out your blessings on our farmers; that you would bless them in their efforts to grow the food that we need to live. We understand, Lord, that at the proper time, you will bless us with the rain and the sunshine. We pray for the safety of all involved in this great profession."

Pastor Dean Robbins
Pastor Dean Robbins

"We are humbled by your presence here this morning, Lord," said Debbie Hagan. "We are anticipating, Lord, all that you're going to do in each of the lives of these farmers here as they work diligently. We pray that you will pour out your heart with blessings for each of them and that they will know that you, Lord, are the one God that will always be with, them and they will honor you."

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