Whether you call it Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday, it symbolizes the start of Lent. It’s typically a day to get together and feast on fatty, filling foods that folks sometimes forgo during Lent. At the Greensboro United Church of Christ, it’s a good reason to have a Community Pancake Supper! Same idea — commune with friends and neighbors and gorge on fluffy pancakes drenched in Vermont maple syrup with a side of pork sausage.
Because we are on a mission to love as Jesus loved, caring for others and joyfully serving God, our community, and the world, we look for ways to make a difference in our community, demonstrate fellowship, and work for social justice. This can’t happen overnight, but it can happen in many small ways. The Community Pancake Supper is an example.
It starts with nailing a date and that was easy – February 13th , the day before Ash Wednesday aka Shrove Tuesday. This created a lot of discussion, given all the special Valentine’s Day celebrations and romantic dinners. We decided that there was room for all kinds of celebrations and chose an early hour of 5-7 PM, hoping to appeal to families with kids, skiers off the trails, and anyone who was just craving carbs and conversation.
Organizing a community event requires asking for volunteers and delegating tasks. Not just because it’s a lot of work but because people WANT to pitch in! The work is organized into groups or “crews” such as advertisers (posters, newspapers, web site, Front Porch Forum, and the sandwich board sign), supply buyers (buy syrup from local farmers, work with the local store to procure ingredients, order decorations, borrow griddles), batter makers (this requires using a proven, heirloom-quality recipe), chefs (pour, cook, and flip only when the bubbles appear on the pancake top), servers (three pancakes, two sausages, a ladle of warm syrup and a tangerine all on a china plate), event floaters (photographer, table-visitors, overseers of needs), and of course the set-up and take-down crew (which includes the welcome station, craft paper table covers with colorful markers for doodling, and the essential chores of washing dishes and managing the recycling).
There were a few critical success factors. First of all, with five grilling station in the Fellowship Hall kitchen, one worries about overloading the electrical circuitry. We checked that all out and set up the kitchen accordingly. (Some also got their first look at the fuse box in the church cellar, just in case.)
Secondly, the pancakes had to be exceptional. Not everyone has the original Highland Lodge pancake recipe, but we did! So the pancakes were made from scratch and perfect (even the former Lodge owners came and attested to that.) And most importantly, we needed guests, and we got them. About 100 people showed up, ranging in ages from about 5 to over 95. They came, they ate, they sat, and they visited. And although the event was free of charge, donations totaled over $1,000 for the Lakeview School food programs.
Behind every successful undertaking is a leader, someone who not only supports the event but is there –flipping the pancakes, giving the thumbs-up, welcoming guests, and showing gratitude. That would be our pastor, Ed Sunday-Winters. And he was back the next evening for the giving of ashes, a more serious day filled with troubling news stories and humbling reminders of our own mortality. We live in a world where the simple joys of sharing food with our neighbors brings much-needed strength and commitment.
April starts the United Church of Christ’s initiative, Three Great Loves. The first is Love of Neighbor. We
invite you to watch for more opportunities to do just that.