Faith, hope and ostrich: wild game cookout brings St. Paul’s family together

At the wild game serving line with (left right) Amanda Lee, JoAnn Hogeland, Becky Vandiver Thomas, Liz Lamar and St. Paul’s Pastor, Rev. John Bussman (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Food is an integral part of southern religious traditions, so a church picnic is not necessarily a newsworthy event. Every so often, though, someone figures out how to tweak the formula, as happened Saturday when St. Paul’s Lutheran Church held its annual wild game cookout at the home of its Pastor, Rev. John Bussman. For those with simple tastes, there were staples like pulled pork barbecue and baked beans. More adventurous diners added samples of grilled venison, elk, bison and ostrich to their plates. Live music, inflatables and games added more fun to the fellowship event.

Bussman told The Tribune, “Every year around the last week in August, we have just kind of a back-to-school (event); our school starts and everybody just kind of comes back from summer vacation and everything like that.  We like to get everybody here at the house and have a cookout, have bouncy houses and water slides, and just a good time of fellowship. We offer, of course, wild game, different things; we like to throw in some different exotic meats every year, but we have ribs and barbecue and all kinds of good stuff.”

He continued, “Really, it’s just about bringing, not only people from the school and the church together, but people from the community just to gather and have a good time. We’re just trying to have a good time, fellowship and meet new people and that kind of thing.”

Bussman took a moment to talk about his church’s school, saying, “The school is just an amazing place: great kids, great families. The kids are very near and dear to me. I enjoy going over, and whether it’s teaching a religion class or sitting down at the lunch table, getting to know them, because, you know, in our society, our world or whatever today, you could hear- just from commercial to commercial- you could hear somebody saying that you’re supposed to be this person, and over here you’re supposed to be this person. Just having the opportunity to bring kids and their families in and laying the foundation of drowning out the voices from everybody else and saying, ‘No, this is who you are in Christ, who God has created you to be,’ and being able to see the kids in their most triumphant joys to their deepest sorrows, and being able to be there with them every step of the way. I hate losing them in sixth grade!”

For more on St. Paul’s Lutheran Church visit See The Tribune’s recent story about St. Paul’s Lutheran School at

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W.C. Mann