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FALL 2020
 Keeping an Annual Tradition Alive in St. John’s
  By Andrew Halliday, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in St. John’s, N.L.
Found in the oldest city in Canada, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in St. John’s is also the oldest Presbyterian Church in Newfoundland and Lab- rador, and has a proud, rich history. Like the heritage of its Scottish roots, it is no stranger to difficult times and changes. Spanning many family generations, it has seen three de- structions by fire (the last was “The Great Fire” of 1892), and relocations to where it stands today. A recogniz- able part of the St. John’s skyline, “The Kirk on the Hill” is well known throughout the city.
Memories and records still availa- ble tell us the first Lobster Supper was held in 1976, when some men from the congregation, using only camp stoves, boiled a modest hundred or
less of the “Atlantic Crustaceans.” It was one of many fundraisers at the time to support the construction of a new, modern Church Hall.
That Church Hall officially opened in 1980, containing church offices, the Sunday School, a meeting par- lour, full kitchen and gymnasium.
Four decades later, the Annual Lobster Dinner has become The Kirk’s most anticipated event, always held in the second week of June, now serving over 400 people each year.
The addition of the hall and sup- port from local businesses allowed for expansion to a dinner for over 100 people, with volunteers turning the gym into a dining hall and pre- paring salads and desserts. On the morning of the dinner, cases of fresh lobster are dropped off and boiled on-site (now using commercial-sized equipment and actual sea water). In
the evening, another volunteer team serves the dinner to the tables. Over the years, the dinner may have be- come a little more elaborate, but has always followed the same combina- tion: two full lobsters, three side sal- ads, refreshments and dessert.
Growing popularity, limited seating and restrictions for some to get to the hall in person saw the introduction of take-out meals, containing eve- rything that the dine-in dinner had, for the same enjoyment at home. In recent years, take-out numbers have grown to almost 250. At two lobsters per person (including our “staff”), this means that volunteers have been boiling approximately 900 lobsters in a single day, every year.
Making all this happen has be- come a well-oiled machine of count- less people that never fails nor disap- points.
Normally, the Dinner Committee starts coordinating as early as Feb- ruary. This year, with so many COV- ID-19 complications, the first phone call wasn’t until April, but it wasn’t for planning. With so many fears and re- strictions in place, it had to be asked: Could we do it this year? How would we do it? Did we even have enough time left? We watched as other groups were forced to cancel criti- cal fundraisers. Would St. Andrew’s have to do the same?
A long-standing fixture in the downtown core, The Kirk has a histo- ry of supporting people and outreach organizations in our city. We also contribute to humanitarian projects around the world. The support of our people and the public is immensely important to maintaining our mission activities that help others. Could we still do that without our biggest fun- draiser?
Call it Presbyterian obstinacy, Newfoundland determination, or sim- ply the bond among our members to help one another—but we would proceed. We would make it work! We threw out the traditions and es- tablished playbook from the past 3 to 4 decades and started from scratch.
The Kirk, like many congregations, has doctors, lawyers, chefs, project planners and other professionals in our church family. They rose to the call for guidance and participation;
Long-time volunteer Andrew Halliday stands in front of St. Andrew’s Presby- terian Church, ready to greet vehicles as they come for pick-up orders. PHOTO CREDIT: JEREMY EATON/CBC.
A volunteer greets a vehicle as it pulls up in front of the hall, and puts their take-out orders in the trunk.
one member even made lobster-print masks for volunteers.
We would only make take-out boxes, and since the gym wouldn’t be used for the dinner, physically distanced workstations were set up. Limited family groups would assem- ble the meals, with our head chef ensuring safe preparation of all the food. A refrigerated trailer was donat- ed where completed boxes could be kept as they were made. To maintain consistency, our traditional date re- mained the same, but instead of one day, would stretch over two. We set a goal of 400 dinners (200 each day). Could this be done?
Our event, usually coordinated over three to four months, now only had six weeks to execute. Titled our “2020 Stay Home Year,” advertising didn’t actually start until week two of planning, leaving only four weeks to take orders. The orders were taken by phone and email, with payment arranged through e-transfer or credit card. A schedule was made, and customers were given a specific day/ time to pick up their orders.
We may have underestimated our public support. Our 400 orders were sold out in just under three weeks!
The annual Lobster Dinner at St. An- drew’s Presbyterian Church in St. John’s, N.L.
Each morning of the now two-day pickup schedule, a ticket number was drawn, and two lucky customers re- ceived a special prize package when they arrived.
A no-contact system was cre- ated: entrance and exit points in the parking lot were marked with signs, cars would pull up and check in with a volunteer to have their name and order confirmed. A note with their number of dinners was stuck to their car. They would then proceed to the trailer in front of the hall, another vol- unteer would take the note, put that number of dinners in their trunk, and off they would go. It ran seamlessly; better than anticipated.
After all the numbers were bal- anced, the 44th Annual Kirk Lobster Dinner turned out to be our most suc- cessful year yet. This unimaginable success showed what our church family can do when faced with seri- ous challenges, and we were able to provide some of the normal comforts that this year has taken away from so many. Most importantly, it allowed us to stay connected with our commu- nity, a positive example of giving and support in the face of adversity.
The only question now is: What do we do next year? Have we set new standards and goals? We shall have to wait and see.
   St. Andrew’s Hall, Vancouver
 The Presbyterian Director of Denominational Formation (DDF) is seconded by St. Andrew’s Hall, a college of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, to serve on the faculty of The Vancouver School of Theology. This
is a half-time position and is not tenure track. The successful candidate for this position must be, or be capable of becoming, a Minister of Word and Sacraments in The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
Familiarity with the doctrine, polity, ethos and history of The Presbyterian Church in Canada is essential. A record of effective ministry in The Presbyterian Church in Canada including an awareness of missional leadership in post-Christendom Canada will be an asset.
The responsibilities of this position include recruiting, mentoring, supporting and inspiring Presbyterian students with teaching, coordinating community life, worship, pastoral care and prayer support in cooperation with our SAH Chaplain, reporting to presbyteries and other Presbyterian Church
in Canada bodies on student progress.
For more information please see
 Applications should be sent electronically
in confidence to Dr. Ross Lockhart,
Dean of St. Andrew’s Hall, with the subject line “St. Andrew’s Hall DDF Search.”
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