Record attendance is expected for church’s Christmas Day lunch

December 20, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

With Lavender Blue Catering giving assistance, St. Mark’s Anglican Church is expected a record turnout for its eighth annual Christmas Day lunch.

Targeting members of the community who otherwise would be home alone for the holiday celebrating Christ’s birth, the lunch will include some celebrity servers and lots of carol singing.

Until her retirement a year ago, Pam Claridge was the organist for St. Mark’s, and she’ll be at the keyboard Wednesday while her successor, Greg Dickisson, is home with his wife and young children.

As of last Sunday, more than 100 people had called the church (519-941-0640) to indicate they would be present.

“People can still phone if they’d like to come but it will be on a waiting list,” Mrs. Claridge said. “They can call the office and leave a message.” 

In an era when food banks are under pressure to fill their shelves, the Orangeville Food Bank is being supplemented by smaller banks at St. Mark’s and several other churches, and some churches have long had Christmas dinners for shut-ins, but only St. Mark’s is on Christmas Day.

“Lavender Blue is helping – they’re cooking the turkey,” Mrs. Claridge advised.

She listed a number of people that she considered should be acknowledged for their help with the lunch: “Carol Foley, Cathy Wilson, Carol Hulcoop, Yvonne Guse-Rahn and Diane Goody, Rev. Carl and Rev.  Barbara Moulton. He’s the minister at The Well and she’s head of the chaplaincy at the Hospital, and Archdeacon Peter Scott, the incumbent at St. Mark’s.”

She added, “There’s a banjo player coming and some members of the church choir; last year a chap brought his guitar and he might come again. They choir helps with the serving and sing in between. We’ve had Police Chief Wayne Kalinski and Staff Sergeant Lindsey White help with the serving.”

All the food has been donated by members of the congregation and local businesses. 

“It’s a great opportunity for people that are on their own. They don’t have to be alone for Christmas dinner – it’s always a wonderful dinner.”

Mrs. Claridge will play for the carol singing, while husband Tom and daughter Nancy will be on hand, with Nancy likely to sing a solo when she’s not helping in the kitchen.

“The doors open at 11:00 a.m. and lunch isn’t until 11:30.”

In previous years, “we’ve also had some  Orangeville Police officers who have come while on duty. If they haven’t had a call, they come and have a hot meal and then go out again. So, that’s nice.”

The event has grown over the years and Mrs. Claridge is inclined to think this is “a combination of people hearing about it and then there was more of a need. It’s not for members only, they’re mostly the people working in the kitchen and serving.

“Word has got around – you don’t have to be by yourself. 

“This is “just fun, with the music – people love singing Christmas carols. Dave Tilson donated a whole bunch of carol books and we’re putting them on every place. People call out, ‘Can we sing this one or that?’ When you’ve got a guitar and an banjo -it’s even more fun. Seeing people visiting people from different walks of life – what really enthralls me is to see people who haven’t seen each other since last year, saying, ‘oh how nice to see you again!’ ”

It was Archdeacon Scott who remembered the moment of inspiration: “So it began,” said he. “A woman coming out of the church after a service and said, ‘I’m looking for a Christmas lunch on Christmas Day. Do you know of one?’ and I said, ‘No I don’t know of any,’ And that planted a seed and we said yes, we do. It’s always been something – we’ve got a little waiting list happening and people can still come; it’s best if they call the office.

“About 110 people is what we get usually get each year, we’ve never had to turn people away. A person says – “I just want to take something for someone who can’t come out at home.” So,we usually send out 30 or so plates.”

He assured all who want to know it, “This is open to anyone, even with no affiliation. It is a church, so there will be prayers. We toast the Queen. And there are lots of Christmas carols.”

The dinner is now established as part of the church’s outreach.  “Just to see them come in is just lovely.” Another part of the program is called The Beacon “and it’s just a drop-in centre from September to May. From 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at St. Marks, Monday and Wednesday.”

As for other people who also appreciate the Christmas Day lunch, “We meet new people who tell us, ‘My family live too far away..’ or their spouse has died and they don’t want to be alone but this is not a time of quiet,” and we could hear the smile in his voice, “There’s a lot happening – the carols, greetings at the door. It’s coming and going,” was his description. “People talking, grace before the meal. 

“I mean, it’s certainly something different. A lot of churches do a lunch but they’re this week or early in the week. It may have also helped members, who come to volunteer and a lot of the volunteers come who are not [church] members. 

“It’s organized chaos,” he remarked. “It is as it comes, like a big family meal.”

Archdeacon Scott made the point clearly, “We don’t pass the hat; there’s no charge, no offering. This is because of the generosity of the congregation and the community. And of Lavender Blue [Catering]. They also did it last year.”

The background: “We had someone looking after the kitchen and then she moved away and then someone who knew them mentioned they might help. So, we reached out to them and they said, ‘Absolutely.’ At first they just cooked the turkey and brought the food in but when the lady moved out, they took over the kitchen.”

Wonders never cease when it comes to Christmas.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.