100th soup supper sets record


On Dec. 13, an auction bid of $10,000 won the quilt created in honor of the 100th anniversary of Mount Zion UMC’s Soup Supper. Louise Wallace, left, and LaNeta Guth spearheaded the year-long sewing project. Spanning 100 years of church life, family names are embroidered on the hand-pieced quilt. Arrows in the design convey movement. “No matter how you go and come, you’re still in the circle of what we’re doing” at Mount Zion, Guth said. Piano-stitching edges the blanket, “because music is such a part” of the church life, she added.  
John Neimann chops fresh parsley for his vegetable beef soup, one of five choices for diners at the 100th annual Mount Zion UMC Soup Supper on Dec. 13.
Mother and daughter Joyce Mauldin and Jaymi Slater stir vats of chili on the day of Mount Zion UMC’s Soup Supper. The benefit meal and a quilt auction raised $25,000 for missions.

By Holly McCray

Soups simmered in 13 large pots on Dec. 13, 2013, at rural Mount Zion United Methodist Church, north of El Reno. Perhaps that implied a lucky day for the church’s 100th Annual Soup Supper. Foul weather had delayed it one week.

The word to use is blessed. The donation-only fundraiser that day made a record profit of $25,000 for missions. The menu included five soup choices, cornbread, and pies, all homemade. There also was a quilt auction.

Among the pies were nine baked by Kate Niemann and 12 by LaNeta Guth. John Niemann, Kate’s brother, made the vegetable beef soup. Their great-grandparents helped plant the church.

The centennial supper served up memories.

"You can’t walk around here and smell the smells today and not think of many who have gone before. You can’t peel potatoes and not think of Carl, see cherry pie and not think of Geraldine," LaNeta said.

"That’s what I want for my children, that sense of belonging. My kids were baptized here," she continued.

"My father, when he was not doing well, looked at me one day and said, ‘Sis, I need a cemetery next to the church. That’s where I’d like to be buried.’ Before he passed away, we built one. He’s right out there."

Kate added, "Mine, too."

Louise Wallace made the oyster soup; she learned from her mother. "My mother — that was her specialty. She would make it at home and put it in her canner-cooker," Louise said, recalling the suppers served in the basement of the previous church building.

"The kitchen had one propane stove. The church was heated with coal then," she remembered. She always has attended Mount Zion. "We added potato soup about 20 years ago. Is there a favorite? It depends on the season; you never can tell."

Founded in 1903, Mount Zion Church barely predates the Soup Supper. Set on the first Friday of December, the meal never has been cancelled, according to members. However, as in 2013, sometimes rescheduled.

Louise remembered when "we had a big snowstorm, and the roads drifted. We couldn’t get over here to cook our soup. There I sat at home with 13 pies. I said to my husband: They’re going to spoil."

The couple packed those meringue pies into the bed of their 4-wheel-drive pickup and delivered them to neighbors.

"The next week we made our pies again and had the soup supper," she said.

Carmen Stout and her husband joined Mount Zion about 10 years ago. "I love Soup Supper!" she exclaimed. "It’s all of us working together. I feel like I get to spend the day with my family."

The fellowship through the years also draws people back. Pastor Lamarla Cook said a diner reminisced about her wedding there. "A lot of people look forward to it because they get to see old friends," said Louise.

The church feeds 350 to 400 people. Published in the church cookbook, the soup recipes call for ample ingredients — such as 50 pounds of ground beef, 14 cooked chickens with their broth, 6 pounds of pinto beans, and 18 eggs to make the pasta for the chicken noodle soup.

In the serving line, you first choose a slice of pie! Cornbread and condiment choices follow. Then your choice of soup is ladled into a bowl. (Paper/plastic dinnerware is not used, Louise noted. "We wash.")

"If you want refills, you can have all you want. You can try all five soups," Louise said.

Donation jars set on the tables.

"If you feel like you can’t contribute, well, maybe we need to give you some soup. Maybe we need to help you," Louise said.

LaNeta summarized, "God says, ‘You do the work and I’ll honor it.’ And He has. For 100 years."

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