A successful community dinner is the one that runs out of food.

Clarksville United Methodist Church hopes the cupboards are bare by the end of its second Applefest Fried Chicken Dinner fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10.

A successful community dinner is the one that runs out of food.

Clarksville United Methodist Church hopes the cupboards are bare by the end of its second Applefest Fried Chicken Dinner fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10.

Last year, response was so great that the church went through 200 pieces in just 45 minutes. Despite being offered a refund, most diners didn’t mind and proceeded to pay full price for other fixings. This year, the congregation has more than doubled its order of chicken using Pike County caterer Laura Portwood’s secret recipe.

“We hope to feed everyone that comes through the door,” said event organizer Janie Busch. “Response was so great last year.”

The meal is $10 (the same as in 2014) and includes chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, slaw, hot rolls, drink and the congregation’s famous made-from-scratch desserts.

Diners won’t have to look far to see how the proceeds are being invested. Renovation of the 107-year-old building’s elegant stained glass windows is about to begin, and some scaffolding may be in place by the time of the dinner.

The brick and stone building is at the corner of Highway 79 and Howard Street in the heart of Clarksville at what Busch has called the “anchor point” of the community.

The sanctuary is surrounded by intricate colored glass that features Christian symbols, the names of previous pastors and lists of pioneer church members.

The larger windows face north, south and east, with smaller pictured works on the west side above the altar. When the sun is shining through, services can be held without benefit of electric lights.

The window renovations by Art Glass Unlimited of St. Louis will start on the south side. There is no timetable because the specialized work will be tedious. A non-yellowing glass cover will be placed over the windows once the work is done to preserve them and provide better insulation.

The congregation has decided to upgrade each side as donations come in. The first phase will cost about $17,000.

Average attendance at Sunday services is less than 15 people, but a lack of warm pews can be deceiving. The parish, which traces its roots to the 1830s, has little fear of big projects. The roof was replaced in 2007 and steeple work was completed during the centennial in 2008. In 2013, more than $20,000 was spent remodeling the basement kitchen area with the help of contractors, church members and volunteers. Other improvements also have been made.

The church isn’t prone to the Mississippi River’s whims, but its reputation as a great place to break bread has been solidified by volunteers from around the world who’ve used the kitchen as a mess hall, message center and break room in their flood battles. Three of the five-worst inundations have been in the last six years alone.

“‘Open hearts, open minds, open doors’ is the motto of the United Methodist Church,” Busch said. “We at Clarksville United Methodist expand that to include ‘open kitchen.’ Our joy is in serving others, especially around the dinner table.”

In addition to fried chicken, the church is selling prints and postcards of the windows as part of the SOS, or “Save Our Stained glass” — campaign. Prints done by local artist Bill Blakey are $50. A set of six postcards is $5 and a bundle of five larger ones is $10.

“We appreciate the support of all the members of our church family, the community and others,” Busch said. “We invite people to come and eat a wonderful fried chicken dinner and hope they will stay to visit the sanctuary and get a first-hand look at the treasure we are working to save.”

More information about Clarksville Applefest Oct. 10-11 can be found at www.clarksvillemo.org.