Breckenridge Texan

First Methodist Church kicks off Turkey Dinner preparations with pumpkin pie baking

First Methodist Church kicks off Turkey Dinner preparations with pumpkin pie baking
October 19
12:47 2023

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

One of the first indications that the holiday season is quickly approaching happened Wednesday morning…the first pie baking day at First Methodist Church of Breckenridge, in preparation for the church’s upcoming Turkey Dinner. Based on various historical sources, this will be the church’s 75th Turkey Dinner (albeit, it’s not the 75th annual dinner because of a two-year break during the recent pandemic).

Rosa Leveridge uses a butter knife to check and see if a pumpkin pie is done, while Kathy Hoffman waits to see if she needs to put the tray of pies back in the oven for a few minutes. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Wednesday morning, the outside temperatures were cool, but the two kitchens at FMC were heating up as all of the ovens were pre-heated and ready to bake the dozens of pumpkin pies the volunteers had been preparing.

After everything was mixed up, the pumpkin pie filling was poured into the pie shells, which were then loaded into the ovens. As the pies baked, the women chatted and cleaned up the kitchen. Someone reminded everyone to keep an eye on the pies in one of the ovens. “That oven thinks it’s a microwave!” she said.

During a break in the baking, FMC Pastor Sam Chambers visited with the pie bakers and led them in a prayer.

About an hour later, the women gathered around each oven and tested the pies with a butter knife to see if they were done — a clean knife means the pies are ready to come out, but if any pie filling sticks to the knife, the pie goes back in for a few more minutes of baking.

Sometimes, the knife isn’t really needed (although it’s always used, just to make sure). “Oh, these are beautiful!” one of the volunteers exclaimed as a tray of pies was removed from the oven.

Once cooled, the pies were wrapped in foil and frozen until the dinner.

The Turkey Dinner will be held on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The meal will be served in the church’s Christian Life Center, and take-out meals also will be available.

First Methodist Church Pastor Sam Chambers, second from right, leads the group of pie bakers in prayer during Wednesday morning’s activity. Click here to see more pictures from the pie baking. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Tickets cost $15 each and must be purchased in advance. Tickets are available at the church office, as well as at Clear Fork Bank and InterBank. A limited number of tickets are available, and they will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis; there are no reservations or holdings for tickets.

The Turkey Dinner will be a traditional Thanksgiving meal with turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans and more. Dessert will include a choice of pumpkin or pecan pie. A bake sale will also be going on during the Turkey Dinner.

According to documents saved by the dinner’s organizers, including old newspaper clippings and typed notes, the Turkey Dinner was started in 1947 as a wrap-up to a fundraising bazaar for the church.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, the dinner continued annually through 2019, the tradition’s 73rd year. In 2020, it was put on hiatus due to precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the dinner returned.

Back in 1947, Margaret Hallauer instigated the annual dinner when she was elected president of the Women’s Society of Christian Service, which was also known, through the years, as the Methodist Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society, United Methodist Women, and United Women in Faith. According to her 1991 obituary, Hallauer was coordinating and supervising the Turkey Dinner until 1985, when she was 85 years old. An old newspaper article reports that one year she broke her hip just before the dinner, but thanks to her extensive advanced planning, the dinner went off without a hitch.

For more information about this year’s Turkey Dinner, call First Methodist Church at 254-559-8208.

Click here to see the Breckenridge Texan’s Photo Gallery from the pie baking event on Wednesday.

Gathered for a group picture during Wednesday’s pie baking were, from left, Kathy Hoffman, Sharon Toland, Rosa Leveridge, Janice Smith, Karen Duggan, FMC Pastor Sam Chambers and Judy Hart. Also helping, but not pictured, were Sharron Brown and Brian Kight. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Pumpkin pies are lined up to cool. They were later wrapped in foil and frozen, in preparation for the Nov. 9 Turkey Dinner. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Sharon Toland, from left, Kathy Hoffman and Rosa Leveridge take pies out of the oven and make sure they’re fully cooked. The pies will be served, along with pecan pies, as dessert with the First Methodist Church’s Turkey Dinner on Nov. 9. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)



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