Ocean City Today

Grace Parker breakfasts at OC church to begin Nov. 1

By Kara Hallissey | Oct 26, 2017

(Oct. 27, 2017) All-you-can-eat Grace Parker breakfasts will start Wednesday, Nov. 1, from 7 a.m. to noon at the First Presbyterian Church in the Fellowship Hall on 13th Street and Philadelphia Avenue.

Eggs any style, pancakes, buckwheat pancakes, sausage, bacon, ham, homemade biscuits, hash brown potatoes, grits, coffee and tea will be offered. Milk, soda and orange juice will be available for an additional fee.

“It is a really good deal and an opportunity to visit friends or meet new people,” Volunteer Donna Greenwood said. “Have good conversation, sit and talk with people young and old.”

Each breakfast, anywhere from 150 to 225 people dine-in and more than 100 carry-out orders are made throughout the morning of the first Wednesday of every month during the winter season until March 7.

Government officials, politicians, businesspeople and city workers are a few of the attendees or with place orders to go, Greenwood said.

About 350 all-you-can-eat breakfasts are prepared each month, which typically requires 75 dozen eggs, 1,200 pancakes, 120 pounds of sausage, 80 pounds of bacon, 80 pounds of ham, 10 gallons of grits, 100 pounds of potatoes, 500 biscuits and 50 gallons of coffee.

Preparation starts the day before when volunteers set up the tables and chairs, decorate the room and start to cook. Preparation of the buckwheat pancakes, ham and sausage also gets started.

On Nov. 1, volunteers will begin arriving at 4:30 a.m. to start cooking. Later, the servers or “Woman of Worship” will arrive up until 7 a.m. The big rush starts about an hour later and lasts until 11 a.m.

At least 25 volunteers help make the tradition a success every month. The first breakfasts were held more than 50 years ago, but no one is sure of the exact year.

In 1955, the congregation bought four lots at 13th Street and Philadelphia Avenue. To raise money for a new kitchen in the First Presbyterian Church’s current location, Grace Parker, a cook and head of the kitchen at the church, decided to start making breakfasts. She made her own jellies and mouthwatering biscuits, Greenwood said.

The Grace Parker breakfasts were started sometime between 1955 and 1960, when construction began on the new church. The church started holding services in June of 1963.

For a while, breakfast at the church was a free-will offering. A set price was started about 20 years ago.

Parker arranged a no interest loan from a member of the church to pay for the kitchen equipment and gathered other members to help put on the breakfasts to repay the loan, Greenwood said.

By the 1990s, the church was preparing up 500 to 700 breakfasts and raising $1,000 a month at $3.50 a person.

“[These days,] the funds raised go to those less fortunate, mission projects, breakfast for international students each week in the summer and scholarships,” Greenwood said.

After Parker died, in 1986 her daughter, Lorraine Rose, took over the reins. Greenwood’s son, Chris, has been the head chef since 2000, when Rose’s health started to decline. Greenwood graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. He promised the ladies of the church if they wanted to continue the breakfast tradition, he would take over inventory, cooking and ordering duties.

“It is a long-established tradition in Ocean City going back 50 years or more,” Donna Greenwood said. “It is a place to see and be seen from politicians, to everyday people, and kids. There is a new pastor this year, Dan McKenty, who is excited to meet people in the community.”

The cost is $8 and carry-out is available for $6. Call 410-289-9340 for more information.

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