The year was 1902 and the faithful at Denver's Campbell Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church decided to have a fundraiser serving up some this flock's famous barbecue.
"This method of serving meat is descended from the sacrificial altars of the time of Moses when the priests of the temple got their fingers greasy and dared not wipe them on their Sunday clothes," pitmaster Columbus B. Hill told the Denver Times during the feast. "They discovered then the rare, sweet taste of meat flavored with the smoke of its own juices."
And all the people said? "Amen." In some pews, people would shout, "Preach it!"
For many Americans -- black and white -- it's impossible to discuss their heartfelt convictions about barbecue without using religious language. There's a reason one famous book about North Carolina barbecue, published by an academic press, is entitled "Holy Smoke."
It doesn't matter whether folks are arguing about doctrinal questions at the heart of the faith, such as, "Is barbecue a noun or a verb?" or "Pork, beef or both?" It doesn't matter if true believers are arguing about what wood to burn or the percentage of vinegar God wants them to use in the sauce. Mustard? Out of the question, except in certain South Carolina zip codes.
The bottom line: there's more to barbecue, and all that goes with it, than the stuff on plates and fingers.