Faith Matters: Nurturing bonds through full bellies

Parishioner Justin Lawrence in the kitchen at the United Church of Bernardston.

Parishioner Justin Lawrence in the kitchen at the United Church of Bernardston. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By JUSTIN LAWRENCE

Published: 02-16-2024 1:52 PM

Every year, we find ourselves eagerly anticipating the return of a beloved tradition that warms not only our hearts, but also our stomachs — the roast beef suppers at the United Church of Bernardston. This cherished event has been an integral part of our church’s history and a source of immense pride for our community. They begin on the second Saturday in October and continue monthly through April.

The roast beef suppers hold a special place in our hearts as they reflect the longstanding history of our church and its commitment to nurturing relationships both within our congregation and beyond. It is a tradition that has been passed down through generations, embodying the spirit of service, generosity and hospitality.

Gathering together around a shared table has always held a special place in the hearts of believers. Throughout the pages of the Bible, we find numerous references to feasts and banquets that symbolize unity, fellowship and the joy of coming together. One such passage from the Scriptures is Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” This sentiment echoes the essence of our roast beef suppers, where we, as a community, join in unity to share not just a meal, but also the warmth of companionship and the spirit of togetherness.

The success of the roast beef suppers would not be possible without the dedication and selflessness of our volunteers. These individuals have tirelessly given their time, energy and talents to ensure that the suppers are not just delicious meals, but also memorable occasions that foster a sense of community.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the volunteers who have helped in the past, and we invite those who are willing to lend a hand again to come forward. Your contributions, both big and small, truly make a difference in the lives of those who attend and in the life of our church. Let our shared commitment to the roast beef suppers reflect not only our dedication to this cherished tradition, but also our dedication to fostering a stronger, more interconnected community. Let us keep in mind the words of Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

May the aroma of our meals be a reminder of the warmth of friendship, the strength of unity and the blessings of our faith.

The roast beef suppers are just one of the many events we work together on each year, and each of these events allows us the opportunity to work (and play) together, and to interact with members of our community and beyond.

Suppers are done for the season in April, but then we have our biggest event of the year, the Bernardston Gas Engine Show, Flea Market & Craft Fair, in May. It requires planning and work to be commenced several months earlier to prepare for the more than 6,000 people that event draws in, including many from outside Massachusetts. In September, we have our annual golf tournament, and in November, we have our Christmas bazaar.

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Remember, these events are all put on by volunteers. Both working on these events, and sharing them with other people, creates bonds. And volunteers will tell you, it’s a lot of work, but it’s fun and very rewarding. That’s why all of these events have continued year after year after year, and will continue.

About the church

Since the retirement of the Rev. David Neil, the United Church of Bernardston is in the process of searching for an interim pastor, and thereafter, a permanent pastor. However, that has not dampened the spirit of the church.

Justin Lawrence is a parishioner who serves on the Pastoral Search Committee, is secretary of the Property & Finance Committee, and is in charge of the Second Saturday Roast Beef Suppers.

Worship hours are Sundays at 10:30 a.m. (or 9:30 a.m. in the summer). The church is located at 58 Church St. in Bernardston and can be reached at 413-648-9306. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.