The last year has been a year of change in my diocese. The biggest one is that we have a new Bishop. Every time a new bishop comes in. One of the small ones that has been made is that there is a change in some of the ways in which clergy gather together. In past, our big social event has been the Bishop’s Twelfth Night Dinner. This year there has been a casual lunch for clergy, and last night, we had a kitchen party ceilidh for clergy and partners.
For last night’s party we gathered at St. Michael’s and All Angels Parish. I was looking forward to visiting. It’s been a while since I was last there, and since then they’ve redone their kitchen so that it can be used as a production kitchen. So far their only regular user is Tasty Suppers. I picked up their menu, and I plan on giving them a try during the next few weeks.
Father Kevin, the priest at St. Michael and All Angels and his wife Melissa, an Anglican Priest serving at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Steinbach, are transplanted Maritimers. they acted as our hosts for the evening, along with the Rev. Mary Lysecki, currently doing interim ministry at St. Paul Fort Garry, and someone who spent early years down east.
Kitchen Party Food
Although it was a down east kitchen party theme, the food was a cross between maritime kitchen party and Manitoba social. I hadn’t had the time to doing any cooking or baking, so I brought along some lentil snaps and a mixture of candied peanuts and almonds. We also had garlic sausage and cheese, chips and dip and all those sort of goodies that make a party, a party.
The Franklands and Mary added the maritime touches to our food. Mary brought baked beans and a molasses and oatmeal bread. Along with that she also told us the story of the significance of baked beans in the maritimes. Apparently, back in the day, Sabbath keeping was a very importance practice in the maritime regions. So, Saturday night, the family would cook baked beans for supper and then on Sunday the pot would be left on the woodstove on Sunday. Since the woodstove was on to keep the house warm, the beans would reheat without the householder having to do any work on the Sabbath.
At some time, one of the friend’s of Mary’s mother, who was at University, thought it would be a great idea to day one of the Seminary students, figuring that she would get to go along when the young seminarian(Baptist) went on one of his preaching visits. This would mean an invitation for a meal after the church service. The young woman was Anglican, and her expectation of Sunday dinner, was roast beef, with potatoes and Yorkshire Pudding.
On the first Sunday out, she was surprised to be served baked beans, but though it an anomaly. However, after three straight Sundays of this she decided to ask one of her local female friends what was happening. Her friend told her about the Sabbath keeping practices. Shortly thereafter the young woman ended that relationship.
There was a followup to the story. Many years later, Mary and her husband were down East visiting one of her mother’s friend. It was a late Saturday afternoon when they visited, and Mary noticed, during the visit the woman would be working in the kitchen. As the visit continued, Mary realized that the woman was preparing baked beans. Old habits die hard.
Kevin and Melissa provided us with more down east treats, when they cooked up some scallops and a big pot of mussels, and a couple of bowls of garlic butter to go with it. I don’t have a picture of the scallops but they were well seared and nicely cooked. the mussels were real fresh. Kevin and Melissa take their seafood seriously and the mussels had been caught the previous day and then flown to Winnipeg. This love of seafood also shows through in St. Michael and All Angels fall supper. While most places serve a turkey or roast beef dinner, St. Michael’s offers a lobster dinner.
Kitchen Party Music
Of course a kitchen party needs to have music to be a proper party. This was taken care of by Bishop Geoff, and Melissa Frankland. Geoff for whom music is an integral part of his ministry, is part of a band called the Narwhals, and he brought a couple of his band mates along to add some rhythm and vocals to the evening. Melissa also brought along her guitar and some of her favourite East Coast songs.
They provided most of the music during the evening, but being a kitchen party we were all encouraged to contribute to the singing. Despite the East Coast theme our songs covered a wide range of styles and genres. We managed to work our way through some Gordon Lightfoot, Rita McNeil, Stomping Tom Connors, and Gene McLellan, whose Put Your Hand in the Hand, is one of Canada’s best known Gospel songs. I sang a couple of songs, as did Rev. Tim Sale, an honourary assistant at St. Paul’s, along with being a former member of the provincial legislature. Plus there were some group sing-a-longs.
One of the best parts of the evening was that the pace was relaxed. In between the songs their was plenty of space for conversations and storytelling. Not everyone knew everybody, so we did an introduction where we all gave our names. That was followed up by answering the question, who’s your father? This is a traditional down east question, and was a great opportunity to learn a bit more about my colleagues and where they came from.