St. Bede’s church in Westport applied for an experimental mini-grant of $500 to launch their first-ever neighborhood afternoon tea! The synopsis of the event was to invite community members to share tea and treats with the members of the community. They were hoping to listen more than they talked and to ask questions. It was important to them to note this wasn’t meant to be a recruitment event; it was a meet and greet and a chance to say hello to their neighbors. Donna Horton, a planning member for the neighborhood afternoon tea event shared with us her reflections from the event, “When Bishop Poulson told us the experimental grant program was ready to fund what could turn out to be “spectacular failures,” in the hope of learning something valuable, we were prepared to learn something no matter what happened. By any parameter, St. Bede’s Afternoon Tea on May 21, 2022, was an unqualified success. Every seat in the room was reserved; everyone who was there said they were pleased to be invited and expressed enjoyment of the event. The purpose was to learn more about the community around St. Bede’s location and let some neighbors find out more about them!The donation basket also raised an incredible $310 for a charity in Cleveland, OK, ESCAPE Ministries/Manna Cafe.
The planning and hosting team: Jane Strutt, Cheri Wood, Donna Horton, Margaret Speegle, Jeannie Findahl, Kathy Curfman, Evelyn Glasgow, Amy Goodman (not pictured: Libbye Sloan-Brooks Bennett, Debi Brooks, Jo Reddell, Leland Glasgow, Larry Bennett, Doug Laird) Donna shared with us what they learned, “the community around St. Bede’s is very diverse, maybe even more so in some ways than an urban community. It was a fairly small gathering, but our guests included a wide range of ages and backgrounds. It was a great team-building exercise for our congregation. Whether they attended or not, most of the St. Bede’s households were involved in planning, hosting, and spiffing up the grounds. Each person had a valuable contribution to share. It’s too bad there are no photos of the clean-up afterward, but all hands were busy then. It was like being a part of a smoothly oiled machine."“Most of the guests went to the church, either on their own or accompanied by St. Bedeians. They admired and appreciated the beauty of “the spiritual oasis in the woods.” Upon entering, every guest stopped in amazement, impressed with the view through the windows behind the Altar. Some commented on how the garden spoke to them of creation. Some were interested in the Stations of the Cross.
The tea proved to be a spiritual experience for hosts and guests alike, with all the joyous laughter, conversations, and new friends. We did not plan to recruit members, but three of our guests said they might show up for service!” Donna commented on how St. Bede’s will apply what they learned, “it seems evident that there is a willingness for the community to interact with the parish. We want to host another event, but not in the same format. We think we may use a different form every time we plan an event. We want our neighbors to ask, “What is St. Bede doing this time?
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