They won't say if the members of Mt. Eden Evangelical Lutheran Church or the congregation of Zion United Church of Christ provided the most food during the annual competition between the two churches.
The pastor of the church that brought in the most food will choose a song that the other pastor will sing during a combined service for both congregations. "It will be a solo with accompaniment," the Rev. Mr. Bistline said. "We have practiced. If I'm the singer this year, I'll sing and Don will accompany me on the guitar. If he sings, he will accompany himself." The church's organ will also accompany either pastor.
"They will be Gospel-type songs. I have one and he has a couple of possibilities," he said. "Mine goes way back. I can remember singing it when I was a teenager."
The service will be held at Zion United Church of Christ of New Providence, 900 Winter Hill Rd., at 3 p.m. on Sunday, September 17.
"It's going to be a celebration worship service with a congregation hymn sing," the Rev. Mr. Bistline said. "There will be two places where the congregations choose the hymns. There will be a litany of harvest and ingathering hymns.
“The hymns will come from the old Reformed Hymnal that's no longer in print and a non-denominational hymnal. The only surprise will be who will sing the song to the winner."
"Neither of us knows which church won," he said. "In the last week [of the contest], it was really, really close."
Zion led early thanks to a large financial contribution from one of its members. "Then, little by little, Mt. Eden began to catch up," he said.
Following the service, which will last about 45 minutes, the two congregations will share a covered dish and fellowship meal.
"We'll furnish the coffee, tea, and lemonade," the Rev. Mr. Bistline said.
The public is invited to the service and the meal.
"If they want to bring a covered dish, that would be helpful but it's certainly not required," he said.
This is the third year the congregations have held the contest. In the first, the pastor of the winning church got to specify which football jersey the other pastor would wear at the combined service. That competition was held in the winter.
Last year, the pastors agreed that the one who came in second would run, or walk from one church to the other. That competition wrapped up in the summer. This year, the contest was held a bit later.
"That way, the food is coming in when the food bank most needs it," he said.
Both congregations are now working on the next challenge.
"I don't see any reason why we can't continue this," the Rev. Mr. Bistline said.