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Volunteers from different Meaford churches serve their many neighbours

By Rev. Brendon Bedford

Sometimes the work of ecumenism and Christian unity takes the form of great conferences and official gatherings. Sometimes it looks like flipping pancakes.

Pancake suppers are almost ubiquitous with Shrove Tuesday. In fact, Christ Church, Meaford, with the exception of the recent pandemic, has been hosting a pancake supper for 70+ years. But, the present realities of church life, as we emerge into a new COVID reality, mean there are fewer volunteers to draw upon to serve the parish and those in the local community. This is not limited to the Anglican reality; within a small town that supports nine churches, such as Meaford, Ontario, all denominations are facing this challenge.

Yet, there is another shared reality between all these churches: they are all called to love God and love their neighbours.

So, this year on Shrove Tuesday, Christ Church, Meaford joined with five other churches in town to put on a Pancake Supper for the town. The dinner was open to all, without exception, and free-will donations were accepted in support of the Meaford Food Bank.

It was a combined effort to feed neighbours, both directly and indirectly. Through the amazing generosity of all who attended, the churches raised over $2300 for the Meaford Food Bank, with nearly 200 people from town attending.

“It goes to show what we can accomplish through common action and prayer. I think this is a wonderful model of shared ministry for churches in a small town,” said Rev. Anne-Marie Jones, Minister at Knox Presbyterian Church in Meaford.

Local businesses and parishioners also provided support, through both goods and time. Over 20 volunteers from the five different churches came together to make this happen, as well as some who had no church attachment. The supper was hosted at the Presbyterian church in Meaford, as the group felt it was the best location overall, given they had the most accessible building and the most parking space. For the volunteers involved, it was a wonderful opportunity to work together with fellow Christians that they did not yet know.

 “The pancake supper has been a long-standing tradition in our parish, led largely by the members of the Brotherhood of Anglican Churchmen (BAC),” said Jean Richardson, Deputy Warden at Christ Church. “In this time, as we try to re-engage after the isolating years of COVID, we would never have been able to serve and benefit so many people without joining together with our neighbours in town and siblings in faith in a common goal of service.”

The event was preceded by a short service where all participated in being shriven in anticipation of the Lenten season, hearing scripture, and burning the palms in preparation for Ash Wednesday the following day. Christians of various denominations attended and participated in this shared gathering for prayer.

Attendees of the supper were especially glad to have a renewed opportunity for social fellowship after several difficult years. Those arriving at the event expressed some surprise but also significant gratitude that the many churches of Meaford would work together to host an event that supports the entire community. An air of hope pervaded that this kind of practical ecumenical work will continue into the future.

Rev. Brendon Bedford is the assistante curate at Christ Church, Meaford.

Two Meaford children enjoy the delicious results of churches in town coming together

Shrove Tuesday in Meaford: Nearly 200 people from town attending