English tea, Brits on the Lake, and Loving Thy Neighbour

John_Feb_2014_feature_webThis past Sunday, August 10th, we held an English Tea in conjunction with Brits on the Lake. Many people commented that they had not enjoyed a tea like this since they had been in Britain; that we had a beautiful church and a wonderful setting; many said they would be back next year; and even some told us that they will see us on Sunday. However, I was struck by one particular comment.

One of our patrons came up to me and said: “Each person I have met from your church is an excellent ambassador. Not only did they make sure we had everything and made us feel welcome but they were so ecstatic about this church. Did you hold a training session?”

Doing church on one level is complex: right liturgy, music, or getting our theology right. On the other hand, doing church can be awfully simple: loving your neighbour as you meet them. That is what we did over and over again from Dee and Cathy meeting people, or Sue and Helen taking orders, Father Don setting tables and having a chat, and of course Alan who greeted each visitor like a long lost friend. People were made to feel welcome.

The funny thing is that this hospitality was actually extended in to the far reaches of the hall to Anne and Jane working on the clotted cream; the servers like Pat, Susan, Connie, Jan, or Janet who kept making up plates of sandwiches, desserts, and delicious scones. “Tea for two or tea for four” was met with an instant tier plate of sandwiches, scones, desserts, and hot cuppa! Then there was the dreaded hot kitchen with Catherine and Jay making hot water and tea (over and over again), the Susan’s, the Angie’s, and the many others cleaning up. Yet everyone felt – well, happy that they were doing something bigger than them. And if I have not mentioned your name forgive me because I know you were there and you were giving 100% and plus.

We could say that this was done simply to raise money to help pay for a roof. However, I think it had more to do with a congregation who love their church and that they wanted to share that with their neighbour. This came out in spades as people lingered at their tables and asked if it was okay to have a second pot of tea – “Of course you can have another pot.” One lady sat in the shade as she read her book. A mother and daughter enjoyed conversation and conversation as their beautiful bull dog cooled off in the shade. And you know what? That is exactly what we wanted people to do. After all church is about being part of a community and sharing the good news of Christ who told us to love your neighbour. We did just that in so many moments that it leaves me overwhelmed with a deep sense that God is working through us.  I am so proud of my congregation. Thank you!

Finally this day would not have happened without the untiring work and planning of Bev Brown. When I mentioned the idea of an English Tea and how it made sense that as the Anglican Church we could connect with the community, Bev amongst others, immediately stepped up and said “I will organize this event.” To Bev and her team (and there are too many of you to name), all we can say is thank you and well done.

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