EARLY — The Aldersgate Clays and Praise fundraiser sought a triumphant return Friday, following a one-year absence, but the company overseeing the skeet shooting competition cancelled on short notice.

Clays and Praise Organizer Marshall Thornhill announced Aldersgates’ primary fundraiser would be postponed and tentatively rescheduled for sometime in November or March after the unspecified company overseeing the shooting competition pulled out when two of its employees quit, leaving them too shorthanded to operate the machinery and other equipment needed for the skeet shooting competition.

“The group that was going to run the machines, and basically run the shooting events for us — they at the last minute cancelled,” Thornhill said. “They had two employees quit this week and I guess they are bogged down and hated to have to do it and cancel on us. They gave me a couple of phone numbers to reach out to some people, but it’s way too short of a time frame.”

The Aldersgate Family Enrichment Center oversees a variety of community outreach programs, operating two assisted living facilities with 21 special needs clients, its vocational programs where they contract with area industries to find jobs that fit their clients’ physical needs and many others. The organization held its first Clays and Praise event in 2016. Organizers canceled it in 2017 because the Early Chamber of Commerce ran a similar event around the same time and to make way for its inaugural special needs Easter egg hunt. Thornhill said Aldersgate passed the hunt to the ARK of Brownwood, which provides shelter to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, and would re-launch its skeet shooting competition after the Early chamber decided to focus its full attention on the re-launch and rebranding of Pioneer Days — now the Early Texas Showcase.

“This would have been our second year,” Thornhill said. “… We actually lost money on those events. For the ARK to take over that, it’s really right up their alley anyway. It frees us up to be able to do another fundraiser so we went back and with Early not doing their skeet shooting anymore because of the Early Showcase, we decided to pick it back up.”

Although put-off by the sudden cancelation, Thornhill said there is a silver lining. Instead of competitors facing a humid, 100-degree day Saturday, they will face a cool fall or spring breeze. Another advantage to the delay is more time to market and organize the event.

“Obviously this is not the right time so we’re going to pull back and wait for a date in November or March,” Thornhill said. “It’s just to give us plenty of time. We’ll look for someone else and do things right instead of just a handshake deal. We’re going to have to go ahead and do a contract and make sure everything is legitimate. It will give people more time and opportunity to get involved. Also, the weather will be a lot cooler. It’s going to be over 100 degrees this weekend so that will make things easier.”

Thornhill said Aldersgate would announce when it will reschedule the Clays and Praise. Those interested in attending or volunteering for the event can follow their Facebook page or check out their website at aldersgatecenter.org.