Monday, February 16, 2009

Building community

From The New England Church Supper Cookbook:
They can take the form of a ham and bean supper, a spaghetti supper, or a pancake breakfast served in a school cafeteria, a church basement, or town hall- whatever the menu or venue church suppers consistently serve up traditional, tasty, [New England] fare.

Decidedly down to earth, church suppers do more than offer town folk a hearty meal and a few hundred dollars for a worthy cause. They provide an excuse for a whole community to come together, teens and great-grandparents, shop-keepers and doctors, conservatives and liberals, in a place where their differences seem to fade and they have a chance to just relax, catch up on each others' lives, and share a good meal. Baking bread together seems to help keep a town together. The event also helps preserve a sense of tradition in a community, a reminder of a common past and a future held together by an event at which the faces change as the decades pass, but tradition is passed on. It is traditions such as these that help towns weather the pressures that sometimes threaten to tear them apart.

Helpful Tips for Putting on A Successful Church Supper

Choosing a Date
: Select your date carefully- check to make sure there are no conflicts like school vacations or sports events that will compete for attendance, and then get it on the town calendar early to discourage Johnny-come-latelys from upstaging you.

Menu: Choose easy do-ahead recipes to minimize last minute preparations. Keep it simple- a simple dish prepared well goes over better than an elaborate dish that's hard to prepare and few will appreciate.

Committee: Choose your committee wisely. Make sure to include one or two who were closely involved in previous years, and one or two new faces who can learn the ropes and carry the tradition forward. Delegate committee tasks so no one person is overwhelmed by the undertaking.

Some Church Lady Ideas for Parish Potlucks:

A Fat Tuesday Pancake Supper, or a Carnival party the weekend previous
An Annunciation Pancake Supper, hosting the guests of a crisis pregnancy center
Lenten Soup Dinner (following Stations or other devotion)
An Ascension or Pentecost Chicken Dinner
A post Corpus Christi Procession Picnic
An Assumption Day Picnic
A Liturgical New Year Party

As we discussed in Building a Pro-Life Parish, it's important to have some way to keep the children entertained, especially if the gathering isn't held outside. Some kind of seasonal hands on activity is great for the quieter kids, but if possible, set aside an area where the more active ones can run off their steam while supervised.

Image: The Wedding Feast, Pieter Brueghel the Elder


Anonymous said...

And at a proper New England Church Supper half the dishes will be boiled! LOL!

Seriously, having a potluck with some family friendly, inter-generational entertainment can also be fun. Perhaps a night of board games or hosting local (even parish!) musicians. Or a square dance or contradance! The Vicar's parish is having a square dance/potluck on Friday night and people are really excited. Even the teenagers!

Lucy said...

Being in a university area, my parish is quite diverse. Next month, we are having an international dinner, with all sorts of music, dancing, and literature reading from people's native country. The Knights are wonderful at making spaghetti, and it's quite a cozy evening.

In "Fort Wayne in the Rear-view"*, Amy Welborn cautions us about the line between close-knit community, and insularity. One thing I feel my parish does very well is integrate new people, Perhaps due to the continual regeneration of a university town lends itself more to that. However, I do think it is amazing tha tin a New England parish, people take being introduced to newcomers for granted... and will speak to them for 15-20 minutes after meeting them.