A spring tradition

Ann Swanson

During our church’s seventy-fifth anniversary it was my job to go around and interview members and former members about things they remembered about the Akeley United Methodist Church.

My husband and I called for appointments then went to visit. We even went out to Smethport to see one family. We found out a lot of things. One of the things so many people commented on was the annual Pancake Supper.

I found out that the tradition most likely began with the Epworth League. That was started as a group of young adults but continued until most of the people were well into their forties and beyond. I could not find out just when the group started, but one family moved away for twenty years and came back to find it still going.

The Pancake Supper began as a fundraiser and I am not sure here just what they raised funds for. It has become a tradition. It is still a fundraiser – now for the Akeley United Methodist Women who use the money for various mission projects. Two years ago, it went to purchase a sewing machine for the women in Africa. These women use machines to make clothes that they sell to sustain their way of life. The people were so grateful. They sent a video of when the machine arrived.

Little has changed about the Pancake Supper. We still do it annually and nearly everyone associated with the church has a part in it. You do not have to be a member of the church to help out. We need people to help set up the dining room. Some people appear on Friday night to begin to cook the sausage. Early on Saturday, a crew assembles to start the eggs.

If you have been to this event before you are in for a surprise. This year the basement area has a new coat of paint and new lighting. There is also a new stove. The oven on the one that was there has not worked for many years. I am not sorry to see the big monstrosity go. It is the stove I hit when I took my fall in the kitchen a couple of years ago.

What do we serve? We serve pancakes made from scratch, scrambled eggs, sausage, real maple syrup (this year courtesy of the Barrett family) and apple sauce. The price is by donation. You can get a standard order and you can get seconds. Of course, there is coffee, tea, milk or water.

Usually, I get a lot of phone calls inquiring about the Pancake Supper. People know that I belong to the church and since they attended in previous years, they are anxious to attend again. We get people from all over. There are even some people who are on a mailing list to be contacted once the date is set.

One year I was able to get an article in “Country” magazine. They used a picture of our church along with the write-up. That year I got a call from Florida. Some of the snowbirds wanted to know if they had missed it.

The best part of the Pancake Supper is the sociability. People often sit and visit. They renew old friendships as well as make new ones. That night no one is in a hurry.

We have been able to step up our service. It used to be that the church was filled with would be diners who waited patiently until it was their turn to go to the basement. Now, we pretty well keep up with the demand. Going to all scrambled eggs was one improvement that helped us move forward.

When the Epworth League was putting on this supper only the men worked in the kitchen. One of the first years I worked I had no idea about that policy. When the lady assigned me to work in the kitchen I looked around and found what needed to be done and started in. I began filling orders. I had a system for the waitresses which they seemed to appreciate. I had only done my job a short time when one of the men commented on me being there. I simply told him that was what I was assigned to do and that was that. That was probably the last time that there were only men there.

A friend had an interesting experience at the Pancake Supper one. He and his wife always attended. He had friends who worked in the kitchen. When his order arrived, he started to cut into the pancakes but could not do it. He soon discovered that people from the kitchen were watching. They had inserted cardboard between his pancakes – thus the difficulty cutting them. Everyone had a good laugh.

It is good to belong to a church that can laugh together. One time during the service we called one of the members who was in the hospital. We were singing “In the Bleak Midwinter” and that song was a favorite of his. He was able to hear us singing his favorite song. He was truly blessed he told us later.

In 2020 our church turns 100. That makes 100 years of service to the community. That is a big deal. We are making arrangements for some special events. Some of the “kids” who were in the youth group and choir have contacted me to ask about a family picnic. We hope to set the date for this soon as some of them have to come from some distance. They need to be able to make travel plans.

This year the supper will be held on Saturday, April 6 from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. Come enjoy pancakes, see our improvements, and stay and visit a while.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.