Food, fundraising, and fellowship

By Kathy Hackleman, public relations coordinator at Annville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren

A successful fundraising effort requires multiple things: a product or service people are willing to pay to obtain and volunteers who are willing to organize, set up, and carry out the efforts involved in the fundraising event. In the case of Annville Church of the Brethren, the product is chicken pot pie and the volunteers who have organized the fundraiser for the past 10 years are church members Kathy Schrader and Kate Wentling.

The most recent annual fundraising sale of Pennsylvania Dutch chicken pot pie (most accurately described as a thick noodle soup) sold by the quart raised approximately $4,000 in March 2023. The recipient of the funds raised this year has not yet been selected but in past years, the fundraiser has benefited denominational ministries, church outreach projects, expenses for church youth to attend church camp or National Youth Conference, church kitchen renovations, or a need of the community.

Originally started as a dinner at the church where tickets were sold, over the years the annual fundraising dinner transitioned into its current form where quarts of pot pie are pre-sold. In a typical year, between 625 and 650 quarts of chicken pot pie are bought. Due to the rising cost of ingredients, the cost increased slightly this year to $8.50 per quart.

Held annually in March, the exact dates for preparing the pot pie varies from year to year as Kathy and Kate work around Easter and their own schedules to set the date. The final product is always put together and finished on a Friday and Saturday. Kathy and Kate begin working behind the scenes soon after the start of each new year. “We begin watching for good deals on ingredients in January,” Kathy explains. Of course, the main ingredient of chicken pot pie is chicken, and for 625-650 quarts of finished pot pie, that means about 60 chickens. Church members volunteer to cook down the chickens, sometimes at their homes and other times in small groups in the church kitchen.

Once the chickens are cooked and the meat removed from the bones, other ingredients are weighed and measured in preparation for a small group of volunteers who gather in the church kitchen to complete the pot pie. Those volunteers spend two days on tasks like peeling potatoes, working and rolling dough, stirring the pot pie as it cooks, and filling the containers.

Volunteers are recruited through announcements at church and individual contacts. People can sign up for the day or days they want to volunteer and for the specific job they wish to do. Volunteers are rewarded with doughnuts and breakfast casseroles on the days they work. Each of the two-day shifts is between two and five hours.

The specific recipe used for the chicken pot pie is a secret. The recipe originated decades ago from church members Charlotte and Gladys Wampler. It has been tweaked only slightly over the years, most often when ingredients have increased significantly in price or are no longer available. The original recipe called for specific brands of ingredients, which became problematic as the years passed. Also, the recipe has been changed to reflect precise measurements (Kate reports the original version called for the “white mug full of onions” and a specific number of eggs, which Kathy and Kate have found is more accurately measured by cups, not number since the size of eggs can vary widely). Even with the recipe and years of experience, Kathy and Kate say some years they need to adjust on the fly—like adding additional broth to make the finished pot pie “just right.”

Once all of the containers filled with pot pie are out the door, the work continues. Kathy and Kate write notes to include in the decades-old chicken pot pie folder, which includes details from each year’s fundraiser: the amount of money raised, cost of ingredients, where the funds were distributed, and any suggestions they have for the following year.

The annual spring chicken pot pie sale is only one of a number of kitchen projects Kathy and Kate coordinate at Annville Church of the Brethren. Another major effort is making chicken pot pie for the annual Brethren Disaster Relief Auction in Lebanon, Pa. For that, volunteers prepare about 100 quarts of the pot pie and deliver it to the auction where it is sold as part of a meal or by the bowl.

Although dozens of volunteers put in hundreds of hours to prepare the pot pie, Kathy and Kate contribute the lion’s share of work. However, it’s an effort they clearly enjoy, although both say they wish there was an easier, faster way to get the chickens cooked and prepared. Pot pie is not a difficult dish to prepare, Kathy notes, but it does take quite a bit of time since it involves multiple steps and quite a few ingredients. It’s continuing a decades-long tradition that propels Kate to do the work each year. “Annville is known locally for its pot pie, and I enjoy being a part of that,” she says. Kathy explains, “I enjoy the fellowship and I like it when people compliment the final product. There are some years where I feel like I can’t do it again, but then people tell me how much they look forward to it and how they wait all year for it, and I decide to do it again.”

The Office of Mission Advancement of the Church of the Brethren is grateful for this reflection from Kathy Hackleman. It represents the creativity and passion we strive to nurture together as followers of Jesus. For more inspirational stories about congregations being “Jesus in the neighborhood” visit Learn more about the missions and ministries of the Church of the Brethren at

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Restored by love

By Traci Rabenstein, director of Mission Advancement

“When Jesus saw [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked.  //  ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.  //  Jesus wept.  //  Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’  //  But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’”
–John 11:33-37

In John 11 we find a story of restorative love when Jesus is called to go to Bethany because His dear friend, Lazarus, is deathly ill. Jesus heard this news, He didn’t rush to His friend’s side, but instead cared for what was in front of him before telling the disciples it was time to move toward Jerusalem. Reading between the lines, no one around Him could have truly grasped how Lazarus’ illness, and ultimately his death, would provide a final opportunity for Jesus to reveal that He was the Messiah.

I don’t know if we can fully understand the relationship Jesus had with the three siblings of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. We read of their interactions with Him a few times in the gospels, but we don’t have a full picture of how close they were. What I understand as I read the text is that this relationship between the four of them was one of mutual love, care, and support. The gospel writer uses the Greek verbs “phileo,” connected to “philia”(verse 3), meaning a “brotherly or friendly” love, and “agapao,” connected to “agape” (verse 5), referring to a “deeper, self-giving” love. It’s the deep agape love that is at the heart of God and it is genuine philia love that Jesus embodies in relationship. This is where we better understand the depth, width, and height of the Lord’s love for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. It also gives us a beautiful illustration of how Jesus loves us and how He desires to be in relationship with us and with all people.

When we live together in community, we celebrate love with hospitality for all, service to one another, and participation in each other’s afflictions. All of this creates a place where healing and restoration can occur because of the friendship we share. In these types of relationships, human predicaments are dealt with and well-being is restored.

We see Jesus participating in the painful predicaments of the world and through the resurrection offers us hope. He is Immanuel, God with us, not God “visiting” us. He is engaged with the world and is actively working in solidarity with the suffering of the world, because He experienced the worst parts of humanity. His mission is to engage with the suffering of the world and to redeem it and to restore humanity’s broken relationship with God. Discipleship calls for a similar type of engagement, for us to participate in the suffering of those around us, not to romanticize it, but to be realistic about the human condition and realize that our world aches for redemption.

A longing for restoration from destruction, for life after death, harkens back to Ezekiel chapter 37 where God asks the prophet “Can these dry bones live?” What follows is a direct command from Sovereign God to and through Ezekiel to proclaim, “Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you and will cause flesh to come upon you and cover you with skin and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:5-6, NRSVUE). The bodies began to mend, and with the Word of God, the breath of new life entered them. It was the living Word, the gift of the Spirit that brought full restoration.

With a brotherly love, Jesus drew near to the grieving sisters, approached the tomb, and wept, entering fully into human suffering. And with a God-filled love, Jesus proclaimed with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” and the word of God restored the breath of life. And beyond the cross of Good Friday and the empty tomb of Easter, we believe that God’s unconditional love paired with words of life raised Jesus from the dead.

As the body of Christ, we serve together as friends and share the agape love of God in the hope that those we encounter may experience the same restorative love we have in Jesus. Through the shared missions and ministries of the Church of the Brethren, we serve globally, throughout the US, and in our neighborhoods, sharing words of life with all people. Filled with God’s love and the living word, may we continue the work of Jesus.

Learn more about the loving work of the Church of the Brethren at or support its missions and ministries at

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)