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Gibson Memorial United Methodist continues Easter tradition of chocolate eggs

There are certain rites of spring in Warren County — the first robin, blooming flowers, boats and party barges on Eagle Lake, and Gibson Memorial United Methodist Church’s chocolate Easter eggs.

Every spring since 1981, as the days get closer to Easter, the church fellowship hall at Gibson Memorial transforms into an egg factory, where fondant fillings made of sugar, water and flavoring are molded into eggs, dipped in milk chocolate, decorated and boxed for sale to raise funds for the church.

The idea for the eggs, church member Mary Agnes Westbrook said, came from the Gene Woodland, who was the church organist in 1981.

“He had a sister in West Virginia who said they did chocolate eggs at her church,” she said. “Marie Grayson started it here.”

In the course of their labors, the church members who volunteer to make the eggs will produce about 1,500 of the four-ounce eggs, which come in flavors of peanut butter, vanilla, coconut, maple nut, almond, almond coconut and raspberry. After they’re dipped, each egg is decorated with leaves and a flower.

“We’ve got about 20 people helping us, and we have several men helping us,” Westbrook said, adding she has relatives from Yazoo City, and volunteers who are not church members coming to help.

One volunteer was Brenda Kubiak from Willoughby, Ohio, who came to Vicksburg to visit her daughter.

“My daughter goes to church here,” she said. “I came here to visit her and helped with the rummage sale. That’s when I heard about the eggs. I told them, ‘I’ll be back for the eggs.’”

Westbrook said at one time it took about two weeks to do the eggs, “But we’ve improved the process a lot.”

That process involves a row of tables covered with paper which hold several rows of eggs. A crockpot holds a container of milk chocolate for dipping.

Several of the men help with dipping the eggs, using a long fork to hold the egg while it gets a chocolate bath. It’s a process Pat McKinney and James Morgan said can take up to 30 seconds.

“It’s a lot of work,” Morgan said.

“It takes patience; that’s something I had to learn,” McKinney said. “Every egg drips at a different rate. Some take longer.”

Morgan and McKinney said peanut butter is the favorite flavor.

“The maple nut’s pretty good, too. That’s my favorite,” McKinney said.

The eggs cost $3 each and orders can be placed by calling 601-636-2605 or 601-415-4428. Orders can also be placed by email at gibsonumc@att.net.

Westbrook said people who want a specific flavor should place their orders early, and orders can be placed now.

“We’ll start selling as soon as we finish the eggs, and we’ll take orders until they’re gone.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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