2017 Back to School Bash set for Aug. 4

Published 6:19 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Butler County athletes who are middle school-aged and older are invited to the Hank Williams Park in Georgiana for the annual Back to School Bash, slated for Friday, Aug. 4 at 6 p.m.

Butler County Ministerial Association president Allen Stephenson has been an integral part of the bash for each year of its existence, which spans more than a decade, and he said that the goal each year remains the same.

“We want to get the kids to go back to school strong in their faith; that is our purpose for doing this,” Stephenson said. “We want to impress on them the importance of doing the right things and developing their character.”

Student-athletes from Fort Dale Academy, Georgiana, Greenville and McKenzie are each invited to gather under the pavilion and enjoy food, fun and fellowship as well as words of encouragement.

“We average over 100 kids who make the decision every year, which is a tremendous number,” Stephenson said. “It may be the single-most successful evangelical event of the year in our county.

But for Stephenson and the association, the Back to School Bash is only the beginning.

Making initial contact with the student-athletes is the first step of a lengthier, much more involved process of saving young souls.

“We record the names and distribute those names to various churches to follow up with kids who have made decisions,” Stephenson added. “That’s been somewhat successful, but we’re spread out everywhere and it’s kind of difficult.  But our goal is to make contact with them after the event.”

Much like last year, this year’s message will come from two sources. The first is Rev. Robert Shufford of McKenzie.  The second is Mitchell Dean, East Alabama representative with the Fellowship for Christian Athletes.

Dean has served the organization’s high school and junior high ministries since 2010, and he was recently appointed as East Alabama’s area director last June.

Dean played collegiate football for the University of West Georgia, where he served as a two-year letterman and graduated with a degree in sports management.

Mitchell and his wife, Brook, have five children: Abigail, Elijah, Titus, Judah and Asa.

Stephenson said that it’s due to speakers such as Dean and previous speakers, including Heisman Trophy winner and national football champion Danny Wuerffel, University of Alabama standout Siran Stacy and Auburn punter and national champion Steven Clark, that has led to continued growth for the Back to School Bash.

But perhaps most of all is a desire to hear a meaningful, impactful word that they can apply to their daily lives.

“They come there with their hearts open, and they want somebody to care for them.  We get overwhelmed every year with the number of encouragers every year because there are so many kids who come—you might be praying with four or five kids at the same time.  We certainly would welcome anyone who would like to come as a volunteer and lead a child to Christ.”

For more information, contact Stephenson at 334-382-7528.