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Breaking bread


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POSTED: Saturday, February 21, 2009

The adults in a small Scriptures study class had a hands-on lesson Wednesday night, wielding rolling pins and dough cutters rather than Bibles.

The assignment was to make the unleavened bread used for communion services at First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu.

               

     

 

Church celebrates 50 years with goodies but oldies

        Never mind the traditional formal banquet, the congregation of First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu decided to hold a 1950s-style “;sock hop”; to celebrate the church's 50th anniversary.
       

People attending the dance tonight at the Koolau Golf Course, 45-550 Kinaole Road, Kaneohe, are encouraged to wear clothes they might have seen in the earliest days of rock 'n' roll. Tickets are $12 per person, with children under 11 admitted free. The cost includes the buffet supper.

       

The anniversary celebration will begin at 5 p.m. today with burial of a time capsule at the golf course owned by the church. A 6 p.m. service will recognize charter members from the 1959 founding of the congregation and will commission Sunday school youngsters to be “;ambassadors to the future”; to watch the church continue its mission for the next 50 years.

       

“;The Early, Present and Future Church”; will be the topic of the Rev. Dan Chun, senior pastor, at services tomorrow at 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m.

       

The first congregation of the Presbyterian denomination in Hawaii first gathered at the Richards Street YWCA in the same year as Hawaii statehood. The Rev. William Phifer Jr. was the organizing pastor with the Rev. Philip Y. Lee as associate pastor. The congregation built a church at 1822 Keeaumoku St. and met there for 45 years.

       

Two years ago the church bought and moved to the Koolau Golf Course. The golf clubhouse has been converted into classrooms and worship space for the congregation of about 1,100 people.

       

 

       

—Star-Bulletin staff

       

It was the fourth session of “;Cooking with Scripture,”; with teacher Becky Ebisu giving the modern-day Christians a taste of foods found in the Middle East in the days of the Old Testament kings and prophets and the New Testament times of Jesus and his followers.

Ebisu served roast lamb in a previous class, the meat of choice in feasts reported in numerous Bible stories. She led the cooks to prepare barley soup, mentioned in the Book of Ruth, and artichoke soup, recorded in the Book of Esther. They stuffed dates with ricotta cheese for dessert, heard how to make their own yogurt and, for the final class next week, will work with hummus, mashed chick peas, a staple in Middle Eastern cooking to this day.

A 2006 book co-authored by an Episcopal priest, “;Cooking with the Bible: Biblical Food, Feasts and Lore,”; was Ebisu's resource and inspiration for the class.

But the recipe for Communion bread was from the “;First Prez”; tradition.

“;This is the first church I've been to that makes its own bread,”; said Florence Fujiwara. She and her husband, George, are current keepers of the tradition. She said a group of six or seven people gathers every three months to make multiple batches. They freeze bags full of the baked three-quarter-inch squares for future use.

The workers now have the benefit of a commercial kitchen in the Koolau Golf Course clubhouse, which First Presbyterian acquired two years ago. In the past, the volunteer bread makers convened at the Fujiwaras' Mililani home.

“;Over 1,000 people take Communion at services on the first Sunday of each month,”; Fujiwara said.

Muriel Lee, a charter member of the church, remembers baking the bread years ago, sometimes in her own Makiki apartment. “;One day we ran short of bread at the Communion service. I said I'll make it ... and the job was mine for more than 20 years! I did it by myself—but the church was smaller then.”;

Lee was on hand as a consultant as Ebisu set the aproned students, men and women, to their task.

The Communion bread recipe, which Lee said was developed by former church member Blanche Richardson, would not be familiar to communicants in many other churches.

It contains a good portion of shortening, giving it a texture similar to shortbread cookies. The crunchy cubes are indeed unleavened—without yeast or other rising agent—but quite unlike the paper-thin wafers distributed in most churches. It's also totally different from matzo, the unleavened bread that Jews eat during the Passover season. Neither of those traditional forms contains shortening.

Pam Kennedy reminded the class of the biblical root of unleavened bread, the Old Testament tale of the Hebrews' escape from Egypt. “;God told Moses that bread won't have time to rise. He told them to be ready to escape when he tells them,”; said Kennedy. “;It was the first Passover.”;

Bread without leavening is “;symbolic of the simplicity, the humility of Jesus,”; Ebisu said, “;not puffed up like yeast bread.”;

Leading a prayer before class began, she reminded the church members of the Gospel passages describing the Last Supper. “;Jesus told the Apostles, 'This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'”;

Dennis Pang, a member of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, said he came for the one lesson. “;I want to see how this bread is made. We use the wafers. I'm curious about making our own bread.”;

Connie Tschillard said “;so many stories in Scriptures pertain to food, festivals and ceremonies, whenever people got together.”;

Mitzi Murphy said “;Being together, sharing a meal with others, we are the same now as people were back then. It is a wonderful feeling.”;