Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

From North Morristown: Church basement food & fellowship October 13, 2015

THE OCCASIONAL LUMP in mashed potatoes is culinarily acceptable to me, because it means the potatoes are real. Not instant.

Delicious home-cooked food fills roasters at Trinity's annual fall harvest dinner on Sunday.

Delicious home-cooked food fills roasters at Trinity’s annual fall harvest dinner on Sunday. That’s gravy in the first roaster and squash in the second.

When you dine at the annual fall harvest dinner at Trinity Lutheran Church North Morristown, as I did on Sunday, you get (mostly) authentic homemade food. Potatoes that have been peeled and mashed in the church basement. Sometimes with lumps. Baked turkey and ham sliced into roasters. Squash picked from the garden and baked. Cranberries that are prepared, not dumped from a can.

Volunteers sell tickets outside the church.

Volunteers sell tickets outside the church.

As much as I savor the delicious food served at this church dinner, I also delight in the location and the people.

Trinity Lutheran Church North Morristown

Trinity Lutheran Church North Morristown

To drive into the country on an October Sunday to celebrate the harvest among hard-working folks rooted in the land seems a rural pilgrimage.

A snippet of the stained glass window in the balcony.

A snippet of the stained glass window in the balcony.

Diners file into the sanctuary through a side door and wait in pews until dining space opens in the basement.

Diners file into the sanctuary through a side door and wait in pews until dining space opens in the basement.

Stunning stained glass windows line the sides of the sanctuary.

Stunning stained glass windows line the sides of the sanctuary.

To wait in the pews of an aged church, stained glass windows filtering light, seems almost sacred.

A member of the kitchen crew dishes up meals for take-out.

Members of the kitchen crew dish up meals for take-out.

In the fellowship of church diners, there’s a reverent respect for those who labor in the church basement. For they provide that which fills the stomach as much as the soul with all that is good. Food and fellowship.

Decorations celebrate a thankfulness to God for the harvest.

Decorations celebrate a thankfulness to God for the harvest.

Whether you come with family or friends or no one you know, you'll soon be engaged in conversation.

Whether you come with family or friends or no one, you’ll soon be engaged in conversation.

Two lines keep things moving. About 430 diners attended Sunday's dinner.

Two lines keep things moving. About 430 diners attended Sunday’s dinner.

Dining in the church basement.

Dining in the church basement.

There’s something simply satisfying about sitting on a folding chair in the closeness of a church basement communing with others at a Thanksgiving style meal. Conversation and pass the coleslaw please. Or the cranberries. Clatter of knives and forks and a swarm of volunteers squeezing between tables to pour coffee and deliver plates of frosted cakes and then, afterward, to clear plates and set new place settings.

The pastor and his family raise chickens in a backyard coop.

The pastor and his family raise chickens in a backyard coop.

North Morristown is authentically, next to cornfields and farm sites, rural. It’s as rural as chickens in the pastor’s backyard.

Sven the dog plays catch me.

Sven the dog plays catch me.

It’s as rural as Sven the dog roaming the church grounds.

Just down the road from Trinity, harvest is underway at this farm.

Just down the road from Trinity, harvest is underway at this farm.

It’s as rural as a grain truck and a wagon brimming with soybeans a farm site away.

Vehicles ringed the church and school during Sunday's dinner.

Vehicles ring the church and school during Sunday’s dinner.

No pretentiousness exists here. Even the pastor excuses himself to wash dishes in the church basement.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Gigantic painted pumpkins sat outside the church and school. Kids at the school painted pumpkins as part of art class.

Gigantic painted pumpkins sit outside the church and school. Kids at the school painted pumpkins as part of art class.

A camo pumpkin.

A camo pumpkin.

Produce, baked and canned goods, crafts and more were sold in a back room of the church basement.

Produce, baked and canned goods, crafts and more are sold in a back room of the church basement.

Church members brought in canned produce to sell like these pickles.

Church members bring in canned produce to sell, like these pickles.

Several years ago I photographed this lovely woman drying dishes. S

Several years ago I photographed this lovely woman drying dishes. She worked for years at the dinner, but is no longer able to do so. I found her resting at the craft and bake sale.

My friend Tammy, a native of North Morristown, crafted these caramel crosses and other items for the craft sale.

My friend Tammy, a native of North Morristown, crafted these caramel crosses and other items for the craft sale.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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28 Responses to “From North Morristown: Church basement food & fellowship”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    I keep reading these fantastic posts and it’s only breakfast time!!!! I want……er, need…….some turkey and ham with REAL mashed potatoes!!!!!!! And it’s all your doing!!!!!!!!

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    That food sounds so good to me this morning and you are so right about the joy of eating seated in folding chairs around tables in a fellowship hall basement. How many times have I lived that? A lot more than I can count. Love the cross caramels. What a cute idea.

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    Looks tasty. Familiar scene. The painted pumpkins are great.

  4. Beautiful Captures 🙂 There needs to be more fellowship, gathering and kindness – that sense of community. Happy Day – Enjoy – thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Almost Iowa Says:

    I thought I spotted my car in the picture above. We were somewhere else at the time but it looks like our car: I recognize the dust. You got to love those country roads. 🙂

  6. Jackie Says:

    You really hit all the highlights of this wonderful celebration, I love that it doesn’t hinge on a holiday but instead celebrates tradition, friendships, servanthood, thankfulness and the harvest.

  7. So much gravy… So little time.. Get me a straw and stand back. I was just saying to my wife yesterday how much I love hot sandwiches, turkey, roast beef, roast pork, etc., etc.. So delicious, even if the doc did tell me to watch my carbs.

  8. It’s nice to read about a church basement dinner that’s not connected to a funeral, which is my only experience with them!

  9. Great pictures. We have a saying at our house. If you don’t like lumps in your taters add corn and you won’t even know they are there.

  10. hotlyspiced Says:

    The caramel crosses are really impressive. I do love it when our church puts on one of these dinners – they’re such a great way of bringing people together. Your church did so well to feed so many people xx

  11. Holly Says:

    Thank you again Audrey for beautifully capturing our Church’s Fall Dinner! You have such a gift for taking wonderful pictures and writing as well.


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