Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair Ministry: Cookies, Crafters, Relationships
SMRM’s relationship with the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair began in 1982 when Cindy worked at the Fair. Her insights led to an outreach to the crafters using bags of homemade cookies prepared by Gatlinburg First Baptist Church. The first time we gave out cookies, three different crafters asked if there was anyone who could come and lead a Sunday worship for them. We began worship that year and have continued through the years. The partnership between SMRM and First Baptist has continued through the years with the cookies coming as a church-wide project of the Mission Committee. The church prepared and helped deliver 225 bags this year. The response of the crafters is heartfelt. One crafter followed Libby W. as she went down the aisles just so he could hear her offer God’s blessing to each crafter. Another crafter accepted his bag with the statement that “this is the only show we do where we feel the people of the town love us.” Always, the crafters say “thank you” to the Church for thinking of them.
The worship services on Sunday bring about 45 crafters together of a time of praise, prayer, Scripture, and music. The beauty of the worship is in the praise of God and the commitment to gather as God’s people. The crafters do not have this opportunity
at most shows and worship with a glad heart with their neighbors.
Another expression of SMRM’s ministry at the Fair is that of volunteer booth sitting. Al and Jane Rahn are fifth year volunteers who come for the ten days of the summer show and the 17 days of the October show to minister to the crafters. They provide thirty minute breaks to the crafters (who sign up in a notebook). The notebook schedule is full before the show opens with crafters coming into the office to sign up. Al and Jane ask for prayer concerns the crafters have and speak God’s love into each of the crafters on a daily basis.
The July Fair, with its many families, provides us an opportunity to witness through a children’s craft booth with free sand art crosses and free face painting. Our summer missionaries share Christ’s love with children all through the show.
Sam and Tracy Large, the Fair’s owners, utilize SMRM in pastoral care for the crafters and other employees. Their Christian generosity provides for an open relationship with the Fair. We have provided transportation for emergency trips to the doctor, airport, or car repair center. We have prayed and watched with crafters whose home areas were being flooded by hurricanes. We have helped with visiting grandchildren. Through counseling and witnessing we have enabled God to work in peoples’ lives with salvation, healing, and hope.
Cookies connect us to crafters and enable us to enjoy relationships. Through these, relationship with Jesus Christ becomes real. Thanks be to God.