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Church socials have faith, fellowship food

Around the table

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POSTED: June 12, 2013 9:21 a.m.
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Fried chicken, greens and macaroni and cheese are often staples of church dinners.

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Many folks who attend church rarely — or not at all — tell me Christians don’t know how to have fun.
Apparently, they’ve never attended a church social, which allows those of like faith to come together for good food and fellowship.
A special emphasis is made on the food aspect of these gatherings. I’m not talking about rabbit food. I’m talking about fried chicken, beef pot roasts, barbecued pork, meaty casseroles, seasoned country veggies, cakes, pies and “nanner pudding.” It’s a smorgasbord comparable to my favorite buffet restaurants.
Because church members tend to grow as close to each other as members of the same family do, it’s little wonder that a church social can have an atmosphere and a menu similar to a family reunion. And both events usually are led by family matriarchs.
By the way, there is a difference between dinner and supper. Do you recall any biblical references about the Last Dinner? Me either. Church dinners immediately follow Sunday morning services, but church suppers follow Sunday evening services.
Events can include a watermelon social with refined events like a watermelon-seed spitting contest, or a homemade ice-cream social. Faith Baptist in Ludowici once had a combination boiled-peanut and homemade ice-cream social. This strange combination went together quite well — and the peach ice cream was heaven-sent.
Church socials are an opportunities for grandmothers to prepare those fabulous meals they get to fix when their children and grandchildren visit on holidays and birthdays. When I was growing up, there were a bunch of grandmothers attending Salem Baptist Church in the little fishing village of Sneads Ferry, N.C.
Moms are vexed enough getting kids ready for church on Sunday mornings. They don’t have time to fix a platter of fried chicken, a pot of collard greens or a 10-layer chocolate cake. Granny, on the other hand, has lots of time and will gladly get up before the rooster to prepare a feast.
It’s OK if she misses Sunday school on these mornings. She doesn’t mind. She gets her reward when she hears some little boy asking out loud, “Who fixed the fried chicken?! It’s the best!”
Before the morning service is over, the ladies will excuse themselves to the back then outside where rows of tables and folding chairs already have been set up by the men. They may use the fellowship hall’s kitchen to reheat something, but mostly they meet to determine if there’s enough food for their hungry church family.
At Salem, meats and main dishes usually were kept on one table, country vegetables on another, and desserts and sweet tea on yet another. Children and always-hungry teens stood around, anxious to sample something — anything — while the men stood around talking about the weather, politics or the war in Vietnam. The women made last-minute preparations and talked about the men.
I used to inspect each table before the pastor said grace.
Because Sneads Ferry is a fishing village much like Darien, it wasn’t unusual to find seafood: shrimp, oysters, clams, fish and deviled crab. I also would check the dessert table to ensure there were angel food cakes and large bowls of fresh strawberries to go on it.
Immediately following the big feast, everyone was herded back inside the sanctuary for a short afternoon service. By now, everyone, except the grandmothers, was ready for a nap. Each grand dame’s heart was too swollen with pride from scores of compliments about being blessed with special culinary gifts. They weren’t thinking about resting.
I suspect they were thinking about what to fix for the next church social.

 

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