MORTON — They brought home the bacon Sunday at New Life Church.
Some 130 pounds of the tasty salt-cured pork strips were gobbled up by hungry churchgoers and community members in New Life Church's third annual Bacon Sunday celebration on Father's Day.
Bacon was cooked outside on grills and inside in ovens and on griddles before services, filling New Life Church's Morton and Washington locations with an unmistakable aroma.
The smell of bacon wafted from the kitchen into the sanctuary during the Sunday service in Morton, but nobody complained, including those who had enjoyed one of the brownies available in the lobby.
The annual bacon cooking and feeding frenzy is orchestrated by New Life Church's Marksmen men's ministry.
Ministry members happily do the cooking, wearing special Bacon Sunday aprons, even on a hot, steamy morning like Sunday.
"We wanted to take charge of Father's Day, so we made it happen," said Tim Flynn, a ministry leader, who gave credit to former ministry member and now Celebrate Recovery ministry leader Wil Schone for the bacon idea.
"New Life loves dads, and dads love bacon," Flynn said, repeating the theme for the day.
Bacon Sunday banners were displayed at both New Life Church locations this year, inviting community members to join the celebration for the first time. The event also was publicized on Facebook.
"We had no idea how much bacon to cook the first year, so we did about 70 or 80 pounds," Flynn said. "The first Bacon Sunday was received so well that we went up to 110 pounds last year.
"We added 20 more pounds this year because we opened it up to the community. We had a little left over. Very little."
Flynn uses a substantial helping of bacon to create a "bacon mountain" that is the talk of Bacon Sunday at New Life Church's Morton location, on West Edgewood Court, which opened in 1984. The Washington location in Washington Plaza has been open since 2016.
There is, of course, a serious side to the Bacon Sunday celebration.
"We're a church that has a focus on family and community," said the Rev. Thad Harless, New Life Church senior pastor. "Bacon Sunday is a way to show love to our dads and the dads in the community.
"We believe God gave dads a natural influence in the home. If we care for dads, as God leads, the dads may remember us and grow closer to the Lord in a place that loves family and community and respects them and their position."
Mother's Day also is celebrated with food at New Life Church.
Thanks to the Marksmen ministry, which has about 45 members, moms were treated to 800 chocolate-covered strawberries last month. They also got family photos.
Bacon Sunday has become another New Life Church community outreach.
The church's annual trunk-or-treat Halloween event attracted more than 3,000 children last year, and an annual backpack and school supplies giveaway also has proven to be popular.
An indoor playground at the Morton location has a community day on Monday mornings. Parents or caregivers who bring their children to romp in the playground can have coffee and a snack. One morning, massages were offered as a surprise.
New Life Church has about 500 members.
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.