Church tradition feeds coffersLast week members of Christ Lutheran Church returned to their financial roots.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Last week members of Christ Lutheran Church returned to their financial roots.
Instead of counting pennies, they gathered to make pasties. The mixture of meat and vegetables wrapped in a flakey crust has been a cornerstone of church finances for 20 years.
“We paid off the church with money made from the pasty bake,” said Andy Anderson, 84, as he mixed carrots, onions, potatoes, beef and pork together.
Now, the annual sale of home-baked pasties fills coffers for future repair work on the Superior church.
Chester “Chet” Beetcher has been on onion duty since the first pasty bake in March 1992. He has peeled and chopped hundreds of pounds of them, careful not to rub his eyes.
“We know nobody else wants to,” Beetcher said, so he and a handful of other volunteers took the onion job.
At a flour-dusted machine, a trio of seniors teamed up Friday to turn nuggets of dough into thin crescents. Betty Knutson, 87, Adair Piper and 84-year-old Selma Ambrose spent 10 to 12 hour days on their feet during last week’s pasty bake. Why?
“Because we paid for our church doing this,” Knutson said. “It’s a good support for finances.”
And, said Piper, “you meet all these good people.”
On the wall were two signs that made them grin: “Are we having fun yet?” and “No Whining Allowed.”
“We get awfully tired, but we have fun,” Ambrose said.
While they fed their church coffers and pasty customers, these workers also fed their souls.
Sara Kroeplin has been attending the church for five years. She knew everyone’s face at the church: “Now I know everyone’s name.”
The side-by-side work offered a chance to fellowship with others and really talk, despite the noise of the machines, said Gloria Jablonski.
“It’s a good day’s enjoyment, really,” Beetcher said. “It’s work but you don’t think of it that way.”
Even though he now lives in an area nursing home, the 94-year-old arranged transportation to the church to chop onions twice last week. At another table, his daughter and granddaughter shaped the one-pound pasty centers.
“It’s our family thing,” said Beetcher’s daughter, Dede Dale. “I look forward to it every year.”
From May 1992 to November 2011, church members made 128,516 pasties. Last week, they cooked up about 2,400 more. The one-pound pasties sold for $2.75 in 1992. Last week, they sold for $4 apiece. And they continued to have what Kroeplin called a “cult following.”
“They’re just a wonderful product,” said Jim Kari, co-owner of Kari Toyota. Every year, he’s snagged about 200 orders annually from employees. The special recipe pasties have received rave reviews. Kari bought some pasties in Makinac, Mich., this year. Not only were they more expensive, they just weren’t as good.
Christ Lutheran Church’s pasties, Kari said, “are a great meal.”
Lorraine and John Robinson have been managing the pasty bakes, which at one time took place biannually, for years. Now, they are preparing to turn the tradition over to Kroeplin and her husband, Shane.
“It’s so wonderful to have a younger couple to take over,” Jablonski said.
For Kroeplin, joining the pasty bake has led to closer friendships with members of the church baking team.
“I want these people to know how important and appreciated they are,” she said.
If anyone wants to be added to the church’s pasty order list, they can call the church at 715-398-3680.