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Emmanuel Episcopal Church hosts 100th Shrove Tuesday waffle sale

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What: Emmanuel Episcopal Church’s 100th Shrove Tuesday waffle sale

When: 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 4:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: 235 South Church St., Grass Valley

How much: Prices range from $5-7.50 for adults, and $2-3.50 for children

For more information, call the church office at 530-273-7876

It began in 1916, when eight members of St. Catherine’s Guild at Emmanuel Episcopal Church gathered on Shrove Tuesday, the day before the season of Lent was to begin, for a waffle supper. The waffles were cooked in a waffle iron heated over a wood stove, and each woman paid 25 cents for the meal, which netted a total of $2 for the church.

The Shrove Tuesday waffle sale has been an annual fundraiser for the Emmanuel Episcopal Church ever since. Though the open flames of the wood stove have been traded for electric waffle irons, not much else about the community event has changed.

“It is a fulfillment of what the church is called to do, to be a gathering place, to be a place of continuity and permanence in a world that shifts so much,” said Rev. Seth Kellermann, the church’s rector.



The 100th Shrove Tuesday waffle sale will be held Feb. 9 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, located at 235 South Church St. in Grass Valley.

Lunch will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., followed by dinner from 4:30-7:30 p.m. The menu consists of ham, eggs, coffee, tea, milk and, of course, waffles. Meal prices range from $5-7.50 for adults, and from $2-3.50 for children, depending on what is ordered.




Families with small children are eligible for a discount, and reservations are recommended for groups of four people or more. Those interested in requesting the family discount or making a reservation should call the church office at 530-273-7876 by the end of the day Monday.

The money raised from the event helps to fund the church’s community outreach, from its annual mission trip to Mexico to its support of local organizations and nonprofits.

“There’s a lot of different ways that [money] is utilized to hopefully bless the community. That’s what we want to do,” Kellermann said.

The event is rooted in the tradition of Shrove Tuesday, which falls the day before Ash Wednesday. Shrove is the past tense of the English verb “shrive,” which means to hear a confession, assign penance and absolve sin. Originally, Shrove Tuesday was a solemn occasion, serving as a reminder to Christians that Lent, the period of fasting, abstinence and penance before Easter, was about to begin.

Over time, though, the day evolved into a celebration — the last chance for indulgence before Lent, and an opportunity to use up all the fat, butter, dairy and other foods that would be restricted until Easter. That’s why Shrove Tuesday is also known as Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras.

Back in the early 1900s, pancake sales were commonly held at churches in England on Shrove Tuesday. In 1916, Dr. Bert Foster, then the rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, suggested that the members of St. Catherine’s Guild do something similar. Pancakes weren’t feasible, because the church didn’t have a fully functioning kitchen. But it did have a wood stove, and one of the members of the guild had a waffle iron.

“They said, ‘We’ll do waffles,’” Kellermann said. “I think that fits perfectly with the Christian concept of just using what you’ve got for the glory of God.”

Today, the waffle sale takes nearly 80 volunteers to put on, said Millie Beatie, a member of St. Catherine’s Guild, which still sponsors the event. The guild purchases waffle mix for the event, but all other food items are donated by church members.

Anywhere from 450-600 people typically turn out to take part in the waffle sale, Beatie said. Last year, the church raised around $2,700; it’s hoping to raise around $3,000 from this year’s event.

It’s the community’s support of the Shrove Tuesday waffle sale that has allowed the event to continue for a century — and that has, as a result, allowed the church to continue to give back to the community, Kellermann said.

“It could just be a fun church event for ourselves,” Kellermann said. “But the joy for us is to be able to be a part of the larger community where we can bless and encourage and support that community as well.”

To contact Staff Writer Emily Lavin, email elavin@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.


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