Senior Luncheon
RSVP to the church office at 301-782-4260 or by email to cbbeckley@rcn.com.

History of the ministry: Once a month on a Thursday toward the end of the month, there is a cheerful gathering of folks visiting and breaking bread together. We call this event The Senior Luncheon. If you walk in the door around noon on that day, you will smell enticing aromas, hear cheerful laughter, and see some familiar as well as some unfamiliar faces. Our Senior Luncheon is an outreach to the community, so you will see people there that you might not see on a Sunday morning, but you may very well run into them some other time in the Safeway or the Food Lion. Usually, between 35 and 45 people join us. Our dear friend Helen Risley, much loved by those blessed to have known her, began serving the Senior Luncheon over twenty-five years ago. It was an off- shoot of the yearly Christmas Luncheon that had been one of the ministries of the Cheltenham United Methodist Women. Helen saw how appreciated that ministry was and decided to continue it on a monthly basis. One of her original helpers was Sheri Darling (Payne), the mother-in-law of our former Pastor Mike. Sheri brought along her little ones Cherish and Kelley as she helped Helen to cook and serve. Ione Branaan was also a faithful assistant. Helen used to make all the calls, plan the menu, cook several dishes including the main course, and serve the meal. She continued this ministry well into her eighties. It was only when she could no longer physically do the job that she asked for a deputy.  It just so happened that I had just quit work to stay at home with my daughter Nataline when Helen put out the call. I answered, and in the beginning, mostly made phone calls. Helen contacted each participant to remind them of the luncheon and to ask if they would like to bring a dish to share. Whenever she thought we needed more food, given the number of people attending and the number sharing a dish, she would plan to cook more herself. As time progressed, Helen took over the phone calls and the planning, and I took over the shopping and cooking. I remember once when Helen had planned to serve Salmon Cakes. Never having once made salmon cakes (yuck), I went to Sam’s and bought some nice- looking canned salmon. I think I paid over $4 a can, and assumed it was a bargain since it was from Sam’s. Little did I know that it was “gourmet” salmon. Helen nearly had a fit, because she usually waited for the salmon to go on sale and never paid more than a dollar a can for it! (Some said they were the best salmon cakes they ever had – I wonder why?) She always had me buy chicken quarters, too, because they were inexpensive. How I hated cutting up all that chicken! Helen, however, never thought twice about it when she had to do it. She was a worker as well as a wonderful testament to Jesus’ love. 

Senior Luncheon Presently:

The Senior Luncheon still works essentially the way Helen set it up. My mom, Anne Rawlings made the calls for many years. I now make the calls, but in fact I am looking for someone who can take on this part of the ministry.  I contact each person who has ever expressed any interest in the luncheon to invite them and ask if they would like to bring a dish. We have many in our congregation who love to cook, and we get a bountiful meĢlange of salads and desserts. We supply the main course and sides, and put out a basket for donations. The money goes toward the next meal and for kitchen supplies.  When we have a surplus, we make a donation to the CUMC General Fund. Nataline and Liane Beckley, who set up and serve, have been essential to the success of the luncheon and have been since they were tall enough to reach the tables. Now they are off to college and others are stepping in to help. Chiara Griffith cooks and serves, as do Chris Nave and Connie House. Cherry Cummings has been a great help over the years, and Gay Topper has assisted in many ways, including by providing  plates, tablecloths and coordinating flatware to match the seasons. We have many cleanup helpers, particularly Betty Ellis, Doris Lee and Gwen Myers among others. Generous hands continue to bless this fellowship. In spite of the name “Senior’s Luncheon”, you do not have to be a senior to join us. You simply have to be available at noon on the last Thursday of the month. Even though I call participants before the luncheon, you don’t have to be on any list to attend. It is definitely NOT an “invitation only” event. (The reason we make calls is so that we can provide enough food for everyone, but we haven’t run out yet!) If you are interested in a delicious meal and lovely fellowship, please come out to the Senior Luncheon!   

RSVP to the church office at 301-782-4260 or by email to cbbeckley@rcn.com.