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This fall cruise-in will benefit the youth at one Dawson County church while remembering a late deacon
Castleberry family
Bethel Baptist Church will host an Oct. 15 cruise-in to raise money for its youth and remember one of its late deacons, Rodney Castleberry, who attended the church with his wife, Jessica, and daughters Maddie and Emma Kate. Photo submitted to DCN.

Continuing a tradition started last year, one Dawson County church will host a cruise-in event with a late deacon in mind. 

This story continues below.

Bethel Baptist Church will hold a memorial cruise-in on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to honor Rodney Castleberry, who died from COVID-19-related complications earlier this year. The church is located at 2659 Ga. 136 in Dawson County. 

All event proceeds will benefit the church’s youth, whom Castleberry taught in Sunday school and youth choir. 

Activities will include cake walks and a silent auction, and food options will include barbeque, hotdogs, homemade fried apple pies and other desserts. 

Event attendance is free. 

Whether at work, home or out in the community, Castleberry has been remembered as a genuine, selfless, hard working man who enjoyed the outdoors and serving his friends and family, according to his obituary. 

In addition to working on his farm, Castleberry most recently worked at Bearden Funeral Home in Dawsonville. 

The cruise-in event will be the day after his birthday. It will serve as a chance for community members to come together, particularly people who really miss Rodney, said James Bearden, a fellow church member and funeral home colleague of his.

“We’re a very close-knit church. We’re all just family there,” Bearden said of Bethel Baptist.

Last year, when Castleberry and his family had to navigate Rodney’s health care and costs after he’d contracted COVID-19, so many people, including church members, wanted to do something to help them, Bearden said. 

Then, as a result of that and coordinating with the Castleberry family, the church hosted that inaugural cruise-in, he added. 

“We decided to let this be a memorial-type [of] event,” Bearden said. “It gives us a way to carry on his memory and carry on the work that he was very involved with. The youth of the church were very important to him. We want it to be a church event where we come together and have it for the youth and [help] keep them active in the church.”