Pancake suppers give people one last chance to ‘sin’ before Lent

Published 4:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2023

Area residents wanting to get in one last good “sinful” meal before Lent will have the opportunity Tuesday as two Vicksburg Episcopal churches resume a centuries-old tradition with Shrove Tuesday pancake suppers.

Christ Episcopal Church, 1115 Main St., and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 900 First North St., will hold their annual suppers, giving local residents one final feast before the season of Lent begins the next day with Ash Wednesday.

Christ Episcopal members will hold their pancake and sausage supper from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the church’s parish hall. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and are available from church members or by calling the church at 601-638-5899. People can dine in at the church or take the meals out.

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Besides pancakes, soups, gumbos, breads, blueberry bread, cakes, pies and other items will be sold during the supper.

St. Mary’s dinner of pancakes, sausage, grits, eggs and juice will be served from 5 to 7 p.m. at the church hall. Tickets are $6 and people can eat in or get orders to go.

The Rev. Sam Godfrey, the rector at Christ Episcopal Church, said the church did not hold a pancake supper in 2021 or 2022 because of COVID-19, while Linda Tolliver, who is organizing St. Mary’s supper, said its supper is returning after a three-year absence caused by the virus.

“We’re trying to get back into the swing of things; people are coming out more, wanting to visit and spend time with each other,” Tolliver said.

She said church members will soon be getting things ready for the supper “so come 5 o’clock Tuesday, we’ll be ready. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.”

Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday is the time when Christians observe a final day of feasting and revelry before the fasting and sacrifice of Lent to prepare for Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The suppers honor a custom that dates back to the Middle Ages, when then as now, foods like meats, fats, eggs, milk and fish were regarded as restricted during Lent. Many families would have big feasts on Shrove Tuesday to consume the items that would inevitably become spoiled during the next 40 days of Lent.

The English tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday came as a way to use as much milk, fats, and eggs as possible before Ash Wednesday began.

The term “Fat Tuesday,” or “Mardi Gras,” involved the French custom of eating all fats and fatty foods on Shrove Tuesday.

Godfrey said the supper has been a church tradition “since at least the late 1880s or early 1890s. According to our church history, the wife of the pastor Henry Sansone who was rector from 1865 to 1903 was the one who started it.”

“We’ve done it several decades,” Tolliver said, adding the supper began because “someone had an idea about doing something to bring people together, especially through a group activity for the community — to involve the people in the church as well as bringing people in our church.

“We just kind of grew where we were putting it on the billboard on Chambers Street,” Tolliver added.

Proceeds from the supper go to benefit the Bishop’s Foundation, the Episcopal Relief Fund, and the church building fund to cover the cost of repairs.

Godfrey said all proceeds from the Christ Episcopal supper go to church ministries.

“We’ll sit down in probably a month or so and divide it,” he said. “Most of the ministries are in Vicksburg; there are a couple of Episcopal ministries we donate to but the bulk remains in Vicksburg — usually it’s 8-10 (local) ministries — sometimes more.

“It’s all to raise money for outreach, have a good time and it’s a church tradition of clean out the kitchen before Lent,” Godfrey added. “It’s one of those things that takes the whole church to put it on but it’s a long-standing tradition and we are delighted and thrilled to be able to do it again.”

Both churches will reopen Wednesday for Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Godfrey will distribute ashes in the church’s chapel at 12:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., while the Rev. Beth Palmer will distribute ashes at St. Mary’s at noon.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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