Autumn brings seasonal events

To welcome the advent of fall, churches around Austin are gathering together to share food in celebration.

Grace Lutheran Church’s annual Harvest Festival, which takes place from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, is one example where food brings the congregation together. The dinner is sponsored by Grace Lutheran’s chapter of the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Austin, and will be held at the church at 2001 Sixth Ave. SE.

“On Friday, the women of the church get together and make all the stuffed meatballs at the church,” said Sue Heard, organizer of the dinner. She added some men help out, too.

All women at Grace Lutheran are part of WELCA, though Heard said about 20 of them are regularly active members. Preparations for the dinner draw an especially large degree of support, though, and Heard estimates there will be between 30 and 40 people there that Friday to set up the dining area and get the food ready.

The volunteers will aid Heard in an effort she began with getting out advertising and shopping for supplies.

“It’s about a month’s worth of preparation, one way or the other,” Heard said. “We always send out brochures to all the other churches.”

The work pays off. Out of the 500- to 600-person congregation , the organizers typically can plan for at least 300 to attend.

“We normally have a fairly good attendance,” Heard said.

Last year’s turnout was on the low side, and Heard said it sounded like many churches encountered the same problem in 2011. People may be hesitant to support the church when the economy makes money tight, she said.

While stuffed meatballs headline the dinner, a variety of other dishes will also be served, including staples like coleslaw, gravy and mashed potatoes. But the food won’t be the only attraction at the supper.

“We offer some excellent musical entertainment in the church parlor as you’re sitting waiting for your turn to eat,” Heard said. This year’s music includes a number of performances by congregation members volunteering their time, including a piano player and a country singer.

Heard said the funds benefit a number of church programs, local efforts and mission trips. Included in that is a portion devoted to the building’s upkeep.

“Some of the money will go back into building and grounds projects at the church,” she said, adding in previous years, this has included installing air conditioning.

The dinner is open to the public. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 6-12 and free for 5 and younger.

Those who are hungry for more church dinners and bake sales should keep an eye out for these upcoming events:

Sept. 22 — Fall rummage and bake sale, 8 a.m.-noon, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 300 16th St. NE
Sept. 29 — Fall rummage, bake and craft sale, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Crane Community Chapel, 1111 Ninth Street NE. $3 soup lunch.
Oct. 14 — Fall dinner, 10:45 a.m., St. Augustine Church, 405 Fourth St. NW

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