St. Mark’s Church serving dinner for the lonely on Christmas Day

December 16, 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Marni Walsh

At Christmas, the “feast” in the festivities has become synonymous with joy of the much-anticipated day.

For those of good fortune, the spirit of the season pinnacles in that moment when family and friends finally gather around the holiday table and give thanks – the “God bless us everyone” moment. St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Orangeville will share that moment again this year by serving a free Christmas dinner to those in need and those who want fellowship on Christmas Day.

The meal is free to anyone who requires it, for whatever reason; whether out of need, loneliness, or the simple desire to be with others to celebrate the season. Last year, the congregation served 87 area residents and sent out meals to another 27 un- able to get out to the church.

The congregants of St. Mark’s began the commitment to provide a Christmas Day meal three years ago. Ronnie Inglis, one of the many organizers of the event says, “The church has a fantastic congregation of volunteers; even families with children show up to help December 25th – they want their children to understand the true significance of Christmas.”

However, Ms. Inglis notes, “None of this would happen without the support and leadership of Rev. Peter Scott of St. Mark’s Church.” She said Archdeacon Scott recalls greeting a parishioner at the door after a Sunday service a few years ago, who asked if there was a Christmas lunch for the Orangeville community.”

“I told her that there were a number around town during December,” she recalled him saying. “She then asked if there was one on Christmas Day, I said I wasn’t sure, but would check around. It turned out that there wasn’t a community meal, which got me thinking that there was a void to be filled on the very day of Jesus’ birth. No one should be alone on Jesus’ birthday.”

Organizers say invitations have gone out to emergency response workers, ambulance attendants, police, fire fighters and social service providers who might have to work Christmas Day. The CEO of Headwaters Health Care Centre has been notified, so that church can be of service in the case of a major emergency at the hospital. Ms. Inglis, former head of ER at the hospital, says the event is all about “a sense of community.”

Along with the meal Christmas Day, there will be carol singing led by Pam Claridge, the church choir director, with Archdeacon Scott as the emcee.

The Sunday school students have made placemats as gifts for the guests to take home and every child in attendance will receive a gift.

“It is through the gift of people’s time, talent and treasure in our congregation that has made St. Mark’s Community Christmas Dinner such a success,” said the Rector. “Many local businesses have joined in and supported the cause along with a number of people outside the par- ish who want to help out. Members of the Orangeville Police Services and the Chief have also served meals on Christmas Day.”

Ms. Inglis also gratefully mentions donations from HIWHOIS paying for the turkeys; Ryan Stephens, manager of the Orangeville FreshCo store donating a significant portion of the meal; Parsons’ Flowers supplying centre pieces for the tables; as well as donations from Barth’s Cleaners.

The delicious home-cooked Christmas dinner consists of turkey, dressing, potatoes and gravy, peas, corn, rolls and desserts, including shortbread cookies, mincemeat tarts, fruit cake, squares and chocolate treats, as well as juice and tea or coffee.

Take home meals can be provided.

“Last year, dinner guests lingered to savour the joy of fellowship – in some cas- es with people they had never met before,” Ms. Inglis said. “There is a festive spirit in the church hall from when the doors open,” Archdeacon Scott added. “Carol singing, grace before the meal, and people giving back through volunteering add to the joyful mood of the day; people from all walks of life come and have a traditional Christmas Day meal free of charge.”

St. Mark’s is located at 5 First Avenue in Orangeville. The meal will take place Dec. 25 between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Although names are not required, the organizers ask that guests call ahead to provide the number of people planning to attend, as well as the ages and gender of any children so that a gift can be provided for them. The number to call is 519-941-0640.

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