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Making candy, making memories

Local church’s annual tradition raises funds, holiday spirits

Jeremy Sherrill wasn’t really mad. But when it was time to slam that cookie sheet of hot peanut brittle down on the floor, Sherrill was ready with full force.

But that’s as much a part of the fine art of making that staple of the holiday candy jars as is the measuring, stirring and pouring of that sweet nectar.

It’s a holiday tradition at Greater Faith Apostolic, the church that Sherrill pastors, for the candy cooks and their helpers to make sheet after sheet of peanut brittle days at a time. Workers start shifts at 9 in the morning and will work way past dark.

The recipe sounds simple enough — some corn syrup, sugar, water, and of course, peanuts, stirred and stirred until it gets so thick the spoon can stand up in the sauce pan. Then the cooks pull it off the heat and do a couple of Emeril-like bam bams, of butter and baking soda. Watching closely as the soda makes the syrup rise up to the pan, they pour it quickly onto the cookie sheets.

And then they let Sherrill take over as he shakes and slams the brittle. That’s to make sure all the air bubbles get out of the syrup. It’s a simple recipe, but one that when done in just the right way creates a crunchy ambrosia.

Starting the week before Thanksgiving members of the church donate their time to make the peanut brittle that they sell as an important fundraiser.

With a membership that has doubled over the past two years, the church needs to find more space. Its goal is to build a Family Life Center on a nearby lot and then take its present building for a larger sanctuary.

“We have to do something to expand,” said Sherrill who calls the expansion plan one that the church is leaving in God’s hands. “If we do our part. We are putting our works with our faith.”

But more than adding on to a structure, the days of candy-making add to the members’ memories and strengthen their sense of fellowship.

“It builds unity in the church and that is one of the most important things to get,” Sherrill said. “This work is a sermon in action. It builds teamwork. We have good hard-working people.”