An “Osceola Sun” article headline for July 13, 1977 read, “Sweet potato pie that built a church”. In 1962, the congregation of St. Luke Baptist Church was in need of a new sanctuary to replace the original building erected a few years after organizing in 1882. About 1966, under the leadership ofRev. T.C. Callahan, planning and fundraising began for the $100,000 project. Contributions and special events brought in some funds, but bake sales featuring Bertha Stallworth’s sweet potato pie were the major fundraiser.
Bertha, chairwoman of the building steering committee, assisted by the women of the church, held bake sales on a regular basis, with Bertha often making forty to fifty pies at a time. The pies sold for $2.00 each. Finally in the spring of 1977, the new place of worship was dedicated.
Bertha’s recipe is given here as printed in the “Osceola Sun”:
BERTHA STALLWORTH’S SWEET POTATO PIE
3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon or nutmeg flavoring*
1 can evaporated milk
2 unbaked pie shells
Peel sweet potatoes, cut up and place in saucepan. Add water to cover potatoes, bring to a boil, reduce heat and continue cooking until potatoes are barely tender. Don’t overcook. Drain, water, mash potatoes and measure for recipe. (About 2 pounds of sweet potatoes will yield 3 cups, mashed). Place mashed potatoes in bowl. Add other ingredients all at once. Mix with electric mixer until pie filling is very smooth. If lumps still remain, Bertha strains the pie filling through a colander until it is completely clear. Divide filling and place in two pie crusts. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until filling is done in center. Test by inserting a knife in the pie center. If it comes out clean, the pie is done.
*Instead of traditional vanilla flavoring, Bertha chooses nutmeg or lemon to spice her pies. Both are equally good, she says.
Source: “Osceola Sun”, July 13, 1977