Change Font Size:   A A A

Aug 06, 2018

BBQ Contest Funds Youth Scholarships

The fourth annual Holy Grill barbecue competition promises to be finger lickin' good as it supports Episcopal youth leadership development and mission work. Holy Grill will take place Labor Day, September 3 from 11-3 at St. Luke the Evangelist, Houston and all grill masters are invited to participate, individually or as a church team. 

Funds raised from the event, sponsored by the Rev. John Dublin Epps Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians (Epps UBE) support youth of color in the Diocese of Texas. 

"There are two types of people in this world," said Ayesha Mutope-Johnson, one of the event coordinators, "people who love Texas barbecue, and people who have never tasted Texas barbecue. Last year's event was greatly affected by Hurricane Harvey and limited our ability to help our youth. We hope to do much more this year."  

Holy Grill is held annually on Labor Day at different churches around the Diocese, and has provided more that $14,000 in youth scholarships to date. “Last year, the event was postponed because it was scheduled just 10 days after the flooding," Mutope said. "We rescheduled for mid-October but people were still trying to get back on their feet.” she added.

Still, the Holy Grill has made its mark and is now a tradition in the Diocese of Texas. Church teams participate in the BBQ contest, and many families look forward to making it their last big fun event for the summer. Repeat attendees tout “the best BBQ they have ever had” and “the fun of singing along” with the Salvation Army Harbor Lights Choir as reason enough to attend. Then there are door prizes and instant prizes announced every hour, and silent auction bargains. A big draw is the BBQ contest where church teams compete for cash prizes and a trophy for the best brisket. The challenge trophy travels and is currently held by Christ the King, Alief.

Holy Grill serves as the major fund raising event of the Epps UBE, and gives young people opportunities for ministry, fellowship and leadership that they might not otherwise have. "With partial support from a Holy Grill scholarship, my children were able to participate in the U.K. Pilgrimage in 2016,” says Karen Wesley, a member of St. James’, Houston, an ECW officer and recording secretary of the Epps UBE. Other youth have attended Missionpalooza and the YES youth conference.

“My daughter has come out of her shell, and I owe it mainly to the Holy Grill scholarship,” says Jeanine Wilkins, another St. James’, Houston member and Epps UBE Officer. “And to see her growth has been a beautiful thing – ever since she went to her first UBE National Conference in 2015.” Since then, says Wilkins, “she has developed her confidence and taken leadership in many ways – serving as the youth speaker at the St. James' Youth Day 2018, attending annual UBE National Conferences, and also serving as one of only 18 youth delegates at General Convention in Austin this year.”

“This is a winning formula, that has paid off for us,” Mutope said, “Texas BBQ (that everybody loves) + Labor Day fun + Youth Scholarships (a worthy cause).” The event has grown each year in support from churches, and in the different ways that the Holy Grill has brought entertainment and fun to the people. In 2016, St. Mark’s, Houston, hosted adding the Harbor Lights Choir, a live auction and storytelling by the indomitable biblical storyteller, Kathy Culmer. Last year the event featured “Harvey” tee shirts, and the St. James’ Holy Spirit Dancers performed. People had a spirit of togetherness and helpfulness that year, everybody pulled together, Mutope said.

This year, the Holy Grill will be held at St. Luke the Evangelist, 3530 Wheeler Street, on Monday September 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“This is a great opportunity,” Mutope said, explaining, “because we are right on the TSU campus and hope to draw students from both TSU and UH who choose not to go home for the Labor Day holiday. We’ll be happy to serve them,” she said.

The Holy Grill is truly a family fun fest, with something for everyone: a raffle of a weekend getaway at Seven Coves Resort on Lake Conroe, door prizes, silent auction, music and entertainment. There will be games for the kids, hot dogs, a bounce house, balloons, face painting and snow cones and popcorn. “If past years are any indication,” Mutope said, “we can expect to have lots of fun and raise lots of money for our cause."

For information: email or call 713.446.5756. You can pre-purchase dinner tickets online for $10 at the event link:  You can also request an Epps UBE team to come to your church any Sunday in August or as part of your annual rally day.