Backyard Brotherhood celebrates anniversary

Published 3:47 pm Wednesday, June 5, 2019

VALLEY — More than 40 men gathered on the banks of the Chattahoochee River Tuesday morning to celebrate the 16th anniversary of Bobby’s Backyard Brotherhood, an interdenominational men’s prayer group that seeks comfort for those who are ill or bereaved and protection for those who are in harm’s way due to their service in the military or in law enforcement.

In recent years, the June anniversary of the Brotherhood is marked with a celebration in a riverside setting not far south of the Langdale Dam.

“We want to thank Billy and Linda Sides for allowing us to meet in this beautiful riverside setting,” founder Bobby Elliott said in opening remarks. “We thank Sheriff Sid Lockhart and his deputies for cooking fish for us today, and the men who have come to sing for us.”

Email newsletter signup

Dennis Lindsay got things started with a solo and was followed by jazz-style trumpeter Gary Harris performing “What a Wonderful World,” “God Bless America” and “Amazing Grace.” Then it was time for the string instruments. Guitarists Bo Bowens, W.L. Gillenwaters and Owen Gray were joined by mandolin player Freeman Parker and fiddle player Cliff Thacker to play such songs as “I’ll Fly Away,” “Where the Soul of Man Never Dies,” “Empty Mansion,” “The Old Country Church,” “The Scarlet-Purple Robe,” “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself” and “At the Crossing.”

Elliott had a perfect lead-in to the singing by making references to a classic “Peanuts” comic strip. “Lucy asked Charlie Brown  ‘What are we here on this earth?’ to which Charlie Brown replied ‘To make each other happy.’” Elliott said.

The troublesome Lucy followed up with “Then why is everybody else here?”

“If anyone ever asks us that question we will give the Charlie Brown answer,” Elliott said. “We are here to make each other happy.” He then quoted from Proverbs 16: “Whoever trusteth in the Lord happy is he.”

Though it wasn’t planned that way, Lindsay followed with a solo based on a theme of making each other happy.

The Brotherhood began on June 3, 2003, when Elliott and close friends Richard Perryman, Charles Hall, Handley Davis and Bo Royal started a small prayer group in Elliott’s backyard shop. Word spread about what they were doing and prayer requests started coming in from all over. Other men of faith asked to join them for the prayer sessions and pretty soon, the Brotherhood outgrew the shop building.

The Tuesday meetings shifted to the Langdale Congregational Christian Church, where Elliott was the pastor, and membership continued to grow. Some 16 years later, the men continue to meet at the church on Tuesdays. There’s usually around 40 men there, and they are from many different churches in the local area. Each week, new names are added to a long list of individuals and families they are praying for.