The unexpected Winter blast over last Saturday - now seemingly passť with Spring-like climate this week - seemed an unlikely time to have a Chili Cook-off in a parking lot, yet hardy folks like Terry Grant were braving the cold temperatures, cooking up a recipe for growth and expansion at the New Life Pentecostal Church of Hope, which sits on the border between Hempstead and Nevada counties.

The unexpected Winter blast over last Saturday - now seemingly passé with Spring-like climate this week - seemed an unlikely time to have a Chili Cook-off in a parking lot, yet hardy folks like Terry Grant were braving the cold temperatures, cooking up a recipe for growth and expansion at the New Life Pentecostal Church of Hope, which sits on the border between Hempstead and Nevada counties.
The New Life Chili Cook-off, as it was called, had a loftier vision than just determining the 11 best chili recipes served on Saturday.  As new pastor Matthew Pagels said, “We have a lot of things happening here today. A Chili cook-off, a desert bake-off and a silent action, all to raise money for the church’s general fund; here in the next two to three years, we intend on relocating and building a brand new building.”
Pagels said the growth of the rural-based church has exploded in recent months with a listed average congregation now of over 80 folks from both Hempstead and Nevada counties, which now has the church looking to expand.
“You look at the building we have now; it is beautiful and we love it, but it is small; it is tight. I think we could do a better job in reaching the community if we were in a bigger facility in a more conspicuous location. We pull from both Hempstead and Nevada counties, and of course, it is all about spreading the Gospel and the good word of God,” he said.
“We got to the place were we are actually looking at expanding the walls here, but it is really more realistic in the long run to have a new building,” Pagels said, “Even if we did that, we would still outgrow the rest of our current building very rapidly.”
As Saturday’s chili cook-off went, 11 entrants completed for honors; although Grant himself had three of the entries, including a turkey chili and a Cajun Five-Alarm as he called it, and there was also a separate Vegetarian chili with no meat.
With local campaign season in full swing, the volunteer judges included a battery of politicians, including Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton, who is unopposed, and both candidates for Prosecuting Attorney, Christi McQueen and Angilynn Taylor, as well as Nevada County Judge candidate Mike Otwell.  Otwell is facing incumbent Mark Glass, who was not present at Saturday’s event.