In 2016, a pastor agreed to either run or walk from Zion United Church of Christ, 900 Winter Hill Rd., to Mt. Eden Evangelical Lutheran Church on May Post Office Rd. Last year, one pastor had to sing the other pastor's favorite hymn during a hymn sing in September.
"We've asked congregation members to bring in ugly shirts," said the Rev. Robert Bistline, pastor of Zion UCC. "If we get five shirts, we'll ask the congregation to vote on which one is the ugliest and will be presented."
There are some rules, however.
"The shirt must be laundered, be extra large or larger, and have a decent message. We can't use any shirt that's offensive," said Mt. Eden's pastor, the Rev. Don Costlow.
The pastor of the church whose congregation raises the lower amount will then have to wear the shirt chosen by the other pastor during a hymn sing in September.
That doesn't mean that pastor or his congregation is the loser. "We prefer to think of it as the pastor who comes in second," the Rev. Costlow said.
The challenge is part of an annual food collection competition the two congregations hold every summer. This year's began on Sunday, July 1, and runs through noon on August 31.
Each congregation collects nonperishable food items and cash. Each food item is worth one point; each $1 is worth two points. The church that makes the most points wins and gets to keep the trophy, a cross made of 15 empty Spam Lite cans. The pastor whose congregation comes in second has to perform the challenge.
While the friendly competition is between the two congregations, members of the public can also participate. Donors may drop off cash or food items at Zion U.C.C., 900 Winter Hill Rd., from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday. Donations may be brought to Mt. Eden, 1241 May Post Office Rd., from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays. Donations will also be accepted on Sunday mornings.
"It was a close competition last year but Mt. Eden won," said the Rev. Bistline.
All the food and cash donations will be given to the Solanco Food Bank.
"We give it to the food bank in the summer. That's the time of year they really need it," the Rev. Bistline said.
"The focus isn't on the challenge and we don't call it a food fight," the Rev. Costlow said. "The real focus is on feeding the people."