This year the Longest Lutheran Lunch celebration coincided with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Almost 150 congregations from all over Australia and New Zealand, as well as Canada, welcomed family and friends to their Longest Lutheran Lunch (LLLu) events.
While dates, times, styles and themes differed, the intent was constant: inviting people to share in God’s goodness through worship, fellowship and a meal; honouring the culture and heritage of the LCA/NZ and the legacy of Luther; offering an inclusive, intergenerational event; and connecting as many people as possible. Event organisers were creative, committed and contrasting in their approaches.
Members at Hawkes Bay on New Zealand’s North Island have a cooperative agreement with local churches from four denominations. Together with community members, they shared a combined communion service, a potluck lunch, hymn singalong, bible quizzes and a video on helping in the community.
A brunch of eggs, bacon, tomatoes, sausages and mushrooms, fruit and cereal, fed members, friends and neighbours at Warradale in Adelaide’s south-west. After sharing first course during informal Reformation Sunday worship, the fellowship and feasting continued with pancakes and coffee.
In Auckland, New Zealand, Mountainside Lutheran members chose to share God’s blessings with those in need. Rather than hosting a lunch, they packed food into containers with a personal message and tract or bookmark, then took them to Auckland City Mission.
Mighty rain trees in the garden of St Paul’s Lutheran Parish Townsville, in Far North Queensland, shaded more than 50 lunchgoers. Joined by members from nearby Ingham and Ayr, Townsville celebrated the church’s birthday with a shared meal and birthday cake.
At Port Lincoln, on South Australia’s West Coast, there was also a Reformation cake on hand. A long table was set for lunch and the young people served the older folk.
Rochedale in Queensland also held a Reformation–themed lunch – with a commemorative service, followed by a feast of German sausages and sides, and activities.
Mount Gambier, in South Australia’s South–East, hosted ‘Lunch at Wittenberg’. There was a German cake competition (judged by John Block, Mack Ferguson and Martin Peucker), organ recitals and the stories behind favourite hymns.
German food was also on the menu at Victor Harbor, south of Adelaide, South Australia, where 150 people gathered for lunch, complete with singalongs, dirndls and some other Bavarian–style trimmings.
At North Adelaide, South Australia, members and guests were joined for lunch by ‘Martin’, a statue of Luther which was crafted by a congregational member and resides at the church.
At Walla Walla, New South Wales, a progressive lunch followed a service led by the local youth. After soup served in the spring sunshine, the meal moved to two venues for mains and two for sweets and socialising.
Staff, students and friends of Redeemer Lutheran School, Nuriootpa, in South Australia, provided a beautiful demonstration of intergenerational mission. Women from their supporting Lutheran congregations made more than 400 cupcakes for students to enjoy. Students also commemorated the Reformation anniversary by forming a big ‘500’ on the school oval.
This is what the Longest Lutheran Lunch is all about – celebrating the unity that comes from who we are in Jesus and sharing that with people in our community, no matter what their age, culture or denomination.
Thank you to all who participated. Many people made an effort to partner with other congregations, schools and groups and to make the event enjoyable and memorable for all who came. We look forward to your continued involvement and to new church and school communities joining us next year.
Julie Slaghekke is Coordinator for the 2017 Longest Lutheran Lunch.
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