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The East Elmwood Community Centre was packed last night as men came out to put their chilli to the test.

There were several entries in the Ignite Men's Ministry annual chilli cookoff, known as Chili Knights.

Cameron Gray is one of the leaders of Ignite. He says that the chilli evenings are always fun, with several awards for different categories like best texture, best heat, and best flavour. He says that it's something that some of the men take pretty seriously. 

prestonPreston also worked on his recipe for a couple weeks. He says Ignite is a place that he has been able to find community with other men."The first year we did this, the guy that won three out of five categories, worked on his for two weeks. He smoked a brisket, barbequed some skirt steak, he got some venison and did a dry-rub on it with ageing. It took him literally two weeks to do all the processes for this chilli, but it was beyond unbelievable."

Bigger than chilli

But it's about more than just fun. The food plays an important role in something bigger.

"It's easily relatable among everyone," says another leader, Harlen Card. "The love of food is such a big thing for so many people . . . it's one of the easiest events for guys to come together and talk about something they're passionate about." That setting opens the door to deeper conversations, Card says. "This is the easiest way for us to bring guys together and have a great time doing it."

It's those deeper conversations that they're after, Gray says. "Most guys are in survival mode. They say 'I'm gonna survive today, and maybe tomorrow.'" 

The men's ministry has a number of events like the chilli cookoff throughout the year that gives men a place to become known to others and then dig deeper into their relationship with Christ.

Ignite started as a church men's ministry, but over the last year, they've moved away from focussing on one church community to all of Winnipeg.

Gray says that they hope to connect with other men's ministries. In fact, he says, he dreams of seeing a network of men's ministries in Winnipeg that can support one another.

You can find them on Facebook, and reach them by email at [email protected]

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