Hospitality & Fellowship at Warner
A recent on-line search provided the following definition of “Fellowship”:
“1a.) the condition of sharing similar interests, ideals, or experiences, as by reason of profession, religion, or nationality. 1b.) the companionship of individuals in a congenial atmosphere and on equal terms. 2.) A close association of friends or equals sharing similar interests. 3.) Friendship; comradeship.”
Upon reflection, it's clear that Warner has developed and maintained a commitment to hospitality by providing opportunities for fellowship among its members for over a century. One need look no further than an early 20th century photograph of a man standing next to the Warner church sign that warmly declared, “Strangers Welcome.” Fellowship at Warner may set us apart from other modern-day congregations.
Warner has had several Fellowship Chairs over the years, most recently current co-hosts, Sue Burns and Cheryl Geiger, preceded by Ida Yoder who was preceded by Susan Bresee. Regardless of the individuals in charge, the focus and mission of the Fellowship Committee remain primarily to provide opportunities for all Warnerites to meet outside of worship to foster and maintain friendships - relationships that may well be the foundation of greater ideas, commitments, and actions to do the Lord’s work in our immediate and further reaching world.
While folks’ opinions may differ – it really is not all about the food. Nonetheless there are several events that are steeped in tradition at Warner, most notably the annual Harvest Breakfast held the Sunday before Thanksgiving and the Easter Breakfast held after the Sunrise Worship service on Easter Sunday. Attendance varies but there is always an abundance of home-cooked food. Despite what some may think, the tasty dishes and unique decorations do not magically appear but are the result of planning, shopping, crafting, decorating, cooking, and baking efforts by many Warnerites. We start planning the menu weeks in advance, as well as reaching out to others for time and talent commitments. In past years Ida Yoder has, in addition to her magnificent culinary contributions, literally unearthed an abundance of flowers in both Fall and Spring to grace our tables. In recent years we have also tapped into the talents of Cheryl Geiger and Sheri Daugherty, who have come up with just the ticket for decorating the tables. Cheryl fell into this one year when she headed up the Stewardship Committee and found herself responsible for what she thought at the time was a most daunting task – hosting a congregational luncheon. Little did she know that by reaching out to Sue and Bill Burns for help and advice several years ago, she would soon be writing the book on how to decorate our “retro” Social Hall and somehow bring it into the 21st century. Her skills as a former early childhood educator well prepared her for the task. And did I mention her boundless energy and enthusiasm? Sue Burns now relies on Cheryl!! Sheri’s unique artistic eye has resulted in new and different themes for these events and her dedicated shopping skills yield thrifty and unique supplies to assist her in carrying out her plans. This frees Sue up to make her lists (See below!)
The cooking associated with these events requires live bodies in addition to a great deal of organization. Sue Burns was recently dismayed to find that not only is the shortened title for her Myers-Briggs profile, “The Administrator” but her Color Profile is, “The Listmaker.” Needless to say what others may view as pure drudgery is actually fun for her. The Warner kitchen, while almost 60 years old, provides the perfect venue for all to gather and gab as we prepare the many dishes served at these breakfasts. Again, the Saturday cooking fests are primarily Fellowship and fun events. Cooking skills are not required – there is plenty of work for all – two of Sue’s most treasured memories include snapping asparagus with Dana Lemaster and singing camp songs with Lisa Smeallie, Susan Kline, and Cheryl Geiger while picking 45lbs of boiled chicken. The crab pickers on the Eastern Shore have nothing on us!
While we highlight these special Sunday events, Fellowship Hours occur virtually every Sunday after worship and typically entail more than just coffee and cookies. Again, the emphasis is on Fellowship augmented by whatever tasty treats the host of the day provides. Currently we have a cadre of almost 30 Warnerites who sign up to host each Sunday. Most times this is not a singular person’s responsibility - families host, friends sign up to host together and sometimes new friendships are created when incumbents agree to pair up with newcomers to show them the ropes. Always can we find folk to bake and bring food as well when the need arises. While we encourage each host or host group to personalize their Fellowship Offerings, we have learned that, no matter how hot and steamy the Washington weather may be, hot coffee must always be provided and when that first hint of Fall crispness arrives, the canister of hot cocoa had best appear as well.