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franklin county times

Local church uses Iron Bowl as outreach

By Staff
Jonathan Willis FCT Staff Writer
Roll Tide!
War Eagle!
Those famed chants can be heard echoing through the football-rabid state of Alabama almost on a daily basis. That will most certainly be the case next week when two of college football's fiercest rivals square off in Tuscaloosa's Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers will meet for the annual Iron Bowl Nov. 20 in a game that usually promises to divide families and end friendships — at least for one day.
But one area church hopes to turn that passion into an evangelistic outreach to allow football fans to use that same passion they express on Saturday afternoons in their worship experiences.
New Zion Baptist Church, which is located near the Franklin-Lawrence county lines, will be hosting an "Iron Bowl Soup Supper" on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 6:30 p.m. The event will feature inspirational speakers representing our state's two largest universities.
Intentional evangelism is a ministry-based, passion-driven evangelism that aims to use people's interests as a way to reach them for Christ.
Jack Rutledge, a guard on Coach Paul Bryant's first national championship team who went on to serve as a Bryant assistant for many years, will join former Auburn player and current Board of Trustees member, Byron Franklin, as the featured guest speakers.
Rutledge played for the Crimson Tide from 1957-1961 and was a key member of the 1961 team that won the first of Bryant's six national titles. After four successful seasons of coaching high school football, including one year at Sheffield, the Birmingham native joined the Alabama staff in 1966 as offensive guards and centers coach where he remained until Bryant's retirement in 1982. When Gene Stallings was hired as head coach of the Crimson Tide in 1990 he asked Rutledge to join him as monitor of the athletic dormitory, Bryant Hall.
During his tenure at the Capstone, Rutledge was part of national championship teams in 1961, 1973, 1978, 1979 and 1992 as well as an undefeated untied season in 1966.
Bryant called him "the greatest teacher of football that I've ever seen."
During his time on the Alabama staff he faced many Auburn teams, including the 1977-1980 teams that featured Franklin as a standout wide-receiver.
Following his playing days on the Plains, Franklin was drafted in the second round of the National Football League draft by the Buffalo Bills in 1981. He has since gone on to become a successful businessman, working as the director of special marketing and public relations for Buffalo Rock in Birmingham, as well as serving as a Baptist minister. The Sheffield native is now serving his first term on the Auburn Board of Trustees.
Both Franklin and Rutledge have stories and testimonies that exemplify lives well-lived off of the football field and that is what Houston hopes people take away from the evening.
Michael Mason, a full-time evangelist, will share a short evangelistic message after the program.
The evening will also feature video highlights of previous Iron Bowls in addition to a soup supper. Visitors can register for Alabama and Auburn door prizes that will be given out as well.
For more information or directions to the church, contact New Zion pastor Roger Houston at 256-685-0813 or 256-221-0842 or Jason Houston at 332-1881.

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