By Sean Barron
If you desired to prepare a chicken casserole such as Candie Orr’s, you would need to add plenty of mushrooms, broccoli, shells, onions and a bread-crumb topping — as well as a strong sense of tradition.
Orr’s casserole, along with apple-butter cookies from Janet McConnell, were among menu items featured during Monday’s annual Taste of the Faiths festival at St. Charles Borromeo Church’s social hall, 7345 Westview Drive.
People paid $15 each to attend the fundraiser gathering, sponsored by the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches. The event allowed people from many faiths to prepare hot and cold meats, vegetables, breads, pizzas and desserts from their churches.
A goal was to raise $3,000 to $5,000 for MVAC, noted Elsie Dursi, association director.
Orr and McConnell are longtime members of Woodworth Church of the Brethren in Boardman, one of about 17 area churches to have brought food items, including the cookies made from apple butter that are the main attraction of Woodworth Church’s Apple Butter Festival every October, McConnell said.
“This is wonderful,” Orr said of the festival. “We enjoy doing this every year.”
People seemed to enjoy one another’s company as they helped themselves to offerings such as creamed chicken and biscuits from First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown and Girard First United Methodist Church in Girard; stuffed cabbage and haluski from Mahoning United Methodist Church on Youngstown’s West Side; and three varieties of kolachi from St. Luke Church in Boardman.
Other popular items included Hawaiian nut bread courtesy of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in McDonald; Scottish shortbread and buckeyes from Poland Presbyterian Church; and vegetarian dishes from Evergreen Seventh-day Adventist Church of Boardman members, including Paul Kiepper of Brookfield.
“You can live seven to 10 years longer eating vegetables [and] soybeans, plus exercise, no drinking and no smoking,” Kiepper, a five-year vegetarian, explained as he handed several attendees meatless sausage and burgers made from soy.
Maintaining a positive attitude and frame of mind, as well as eating fewer foods high in fat and increasing whole-grain consumption work in conjunction with a healthful diet toward greater longevity, said Kiepper, adding that he also attends Seventh-day Adventist churches in New Castle, Pa., Boardman and Warren.
The festival also gives local churches an opportunity to share with one another foods and longtime traditions dear to them, Dursi said.
“It’s just a way to share who you are with somebody else with food and around food,” she added.
The event also featured a pick-your-prize drawing and a silent auction. The Youngstown Area Ukrainian Dancers provided dances and musical entertainment.