Community and Food: Not even a kidney stone would make him ‘pass’ up Supper Club
Guest post by Larry Guengerich
Finding Harmony Blog is hosting a series of guest posts September 16-27 in celebration of Family Day on September 23, looking at how to beat the same old same old by finding community around food.
My second contributor is Larry Guengerich, a happy participant (as you’ll see below) in a regular “Supper Club” near Lancaster, Pa. Larry and I go way back: my parents and his family were members of the same Mennonite congregation in northern Indiana; we’ve both been colleagues working in communications for Mennonite agencies for many years; and members of the professional association for weird birds like us, Anabaptist Communicators, having served overlapping terms on the board. Anabaptist Communicators conference is at Bluffton University Oct. 18-19, 2013.
Never Want to Miss
The plan was to mow the lawn. As I got ready to pull the cord, I was hit with the worst pain I have ever experienced. It soon became clear I needed to go to the emergency room. As I lay there, waiting for the drugs to kick in, one of the first things to go through my mind was, “Oh no, it is supper club night!” Finally I was released, pumped full of fluids and drugs, waiting for the kidney stone to pass. It was a struggle, but there was no way I was going to miss Supper Club!
Supper Club: Larry and his wife Kendra, far right. They have two young sons.
We were approached by friends of ours in November of 2003 about being in a supper club. The club is made up of six couples, of which at least one in each couple had attended the same church most of their lives. As time passed, several of the couples had moved on to other churches, but wanted to stay in touch. Supper Club became the way to do it.
We gather once a month with each household serving as host twice a year. When the group began, there were only two couples with children, and when the subject of kids or no kids came up, they were the most insistent that supper club be a time away from the children. Now the 18 children join us once a year, usually on Memorial Day, but the rest of the time, we gather without them.
Looks like Pennsylvania Dutch night.
The food varies, depending on who is cooking. It runs the gamut from tried and true Pennsylvania Dutch meals to international flavors to full-on haute cuisine. It is always good and we share recipes to use with others down the road.
As good as the food is, the fellowship is what makes supper club. When I asked the members to share the things that stood out them, food was mentioned, but without exception the comments were about the stories we have shared, the inside jokes carried from one meeting to the next and the expectation with which we approach each event.
One member of the group said, “My life can feel rather serious at times and supper club is a place where I can count on laughing. I love that.” Another commented, “I love that we can be serious or silly, talk all sides of politics and no one gets angry, we don’t just sit around and gossip”
For me supper club has become both a place to explore food as well as explore community. The people in the group, I count as some of my closest friends. No matter what we go through, changes in jobs, church and family, I know there will be at least one night a month were the food and fellowship will be a taste of what I imagine heaven to be.
Larry Guengerich, is director of communications and church relations for Landis Communities, dedicated to retirement living at various levels, including aging in place and new models of age 55+ active adults living in the city of Lancaster, Pa. and elsewhere.
See the first post in this series on food & community here.
Do you have a similar group? Formal or informal? Comment here to be entered into a drawing for a free copy of Whatever Happened to Dinner. You can share links to similar ideas here, or at my Whatever Happened to Dinner Facebook page, to be entered in the drawing. (Posts for the drawing will close Sept. 30, 2013, midnight).
And don’t forget to plan something special for Family Day, Monday September 23. For more on my book, here are study questions, an interview with yours truly, two podcasts with the food editors, and a video book trailer. Or think about who might like a copy of the Whatever Happened to Dinner book with about 100 recipes ranging from traditional/old time to foodie! Order here.