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Oil rig retiree’s breakfast for men outgrows barn in the piney woods

COLMESNEIL, Texas (BP)–Deep in the piney woods of east Texas, nearly 100 men from a variety of backgrounds gather once a month in a log cabin overlooking a catfish pond to share breakfast and celebrate their common bond of love for the Lord.

Fred Minton, a trial consultant and member of Highland Baptist Church in Dallas, owns a lake house in Colmesneil, Texas, about 60 miles north of Beaumont. When he and his wife are in Colmesneil, they attend First Baptist Church. A member there had been asking Minton to join him at a men’s breakfast the third Thursday morning of every month, but Minton was usually in Dallas during the week. One Thursday in February, Minton was in Colmesneil and decided to take the church member up on his offer.

He drove through a dense forest, looking for the log cabin and speculating that 10-15 men would be in attendance for the breakfast.

“When I pulled up, I saw trucks everywhere. I went in, and I was amazed,” Minton told Baptist Press. “Guys were all lit up, meeting each other all over the room. There were 92 of us, and it was phenomenal.”

The original group of men started meeting in 1995 when Doyle Cowart, known as “Colonel Kornbread,” retired from his work at an oil rig and started looking for an opportunity to reach more men for Jesus.

“I realized there was no place for men to get together for any kind of fellowship,” Cowart told Baptist Press. “I conceived an idea about starting a breakfast, and I started it on my back porch with my Sunday School class. There were 16 of us.”

Within a couple of months, the group had doubled and moved to the barn behind Cowart’s home. About two years ago, with numbers still growing, they decided to build a new 40-by-80-foot facility for the meetings.

Now all sorts of men — log haulers, politicians, lawyers, FBI personnel, policemen and others from different denominations — travel as far as an hour and a half from all directions to meet at “The Gathering Place” each month.

Men start arriving around 6 a.m. to visit with each other, and then by 7 breakfast is served, consisting of sausage and biscuits, scrambled eggs and bacon or pancakes. As the men eat, someone usually sings a song and then someone gives a devotional message. Area pastors and laymen alike serve as singers and speakers, all to give testimony of God’s work in their lives.

“Lots of men come and don’t go to church anywhere,” Cowart said. “They’re getting a good witness just being around these men.”

While the men are together, they make a point to mention those they know who are sick so others can pray for them. The breakfast wraps up by 8 a.m.

“It’s just my thinking that if you can get men together that have a strong compassion for folks around them, then it just has to make the community stronger and better,” Cowart said. “People come from every walk of life, but they all match together because the single common denominator of the whole thing is that Christ is the center.”

Once a year, Cowart said, they have a pancake supper on Saturday night and invite all the ladies. But it’s the men who attend every month who make The Gathering Place so special.

“The whole thing is successful because of all the people that come,” Cowart said. “They can come and fellowship and leave knowing they’ve been to a place where the atmosphere is very country, very simple.” And most of all, centered on God.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: THE GATHERING PLACE, EARLY ARRIVALS, SERVING BREAKFAST and A FIRST TIMER.

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  • Erin Curry