“It’s tradition,” said the Rev. Rob Hartley, the rector of The Church of the Holy Trinity, as he bused tables and delivered pancakes to parishioners at the church Tuesday night.
This year, the Anglican church in North Augusta decided to add a twist to tradition, using its annual pancake supper to raise money for the Augusta Rescue Mission, which ministers to homeless men.
“We have abundance. It’s a nice thing to do, to share,” said Pat Kenney, a church member who manned the griddle Tuesday. The church bought 20 pounds of buttermilk pancake mix to make more than 500 hotcakes.
Pancakes are a traditional choice on Shrove Tuesday, also called Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in French. They are eaten the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, as thrifty cooks use up butter, milk and eggs. The rich foods are often abstained from while fasting during Lent, the 40-day church season that culminates in Easter.
A few of the church members happen to live near the Rescue Mission on Walker Street in downtown Augusta .
“They told me, ‘We wanted to bless you for all you do,’” said Rusty Marsh, the ministry’s executive director. “We are just so grateful for their support.”
The mission offers lodging, job placement, drug and alcohol counseling and budgeting help for homeless men.
“It’s incredible work they do,” Hartley said. “We encounter a lot of homeless people, even more over the last few years. If we can raise a little money to help them, that’s something we want to do.”
The church invited the men of the Rescue Mission and expected about 150 people total to come through its doors. Holy Trinity, however, was just one of several churches across the area to welcome large crowds at pre-Lenten feasts, including Lowcountry boil dinners and homemade donuts for dessert.
“This is a day all about the feast. We’ll cook pancakes ’til the cows come home,” Hartley said with a laugh. “Then, we’ll eat.”