There's nothing new about the idea behind Tamaqua's first Community Advent Breakfast scheduled for Dec. 3. People in Bethlehem, Pa., have celebrated the beginning of Advent with a community breakfast for 46 years. But one of the three organizations sponsoring the local community event is a new idea, at least to Tamaqua.
The Tamaqua Area Fellowship Network is a newly formed group of lay leaders from the 14 churches comprising the Tamaqua Area Ministerial Association. The Ministerial Association and Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce are co-sponsors of the breakfast.
"Advent is a season of hope and expectation," says George Taylor, one of the members of the Fellowship Network. "A community breakfast celebrating Advent is the perfect way to welcome in the Christmas season and to promote the idea of cooperation among churches as well as other faith-based organizations in our community."
Taylor edits a weekly newspaper, the Bethlehem Press, which has both covered and sponsored the Lehigh Valley event.
"The Advent breakfast is really a wonderful gathering of the civic and spiritual community," Taylor explains," and I hope it becomes an annual event here."
Zion Lutheran Church is hosting the first Tamaqua Advent breakfast, but the event can move from church to church each year. The Salvation Army has expressed an interest in hosting a 2012 Advent breakfast.
Taylor says the event's program follows that of the Bethlehem breakfast. Members of the Tamaqua Ministerium will handle the bulk of the program which includes an Advent message, hymns and a candle lighting ceremony. The Culinary Crew at Zion is preparing the meal.
Tickets for the event are available at every Tamaqua area church office as well as at the Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce office at 114 West broad Street, Tamaqua.
The idea for an organization of churches is also not a totally new idea.
"I think many communities, including Bethlehem, has or had a council of churches at one time or another," Taylor says. "The idea is to promote understanding and cooperation among organizations that are doing God's work in the community."
Taylor says the idea of interdenominational cooperation was promoted by a Lutheran Northeast Synod workshop called "Do What Matters."
"We were told that the old model of 'doing' church just doesn't work anymore and that we need to think outside the box," he explains. "We were also reminded that we need not fear other churches or organizations doing God's work. Instead, we need to form partnerships wherever possible to support each other.
"I am well aware that theological difference exist among congregations," Taylor says, "but we have enough in common to be able to work together to help Tamaqua become a better community."
The next meeting of the Tamaqua Area Fellowship Network is Sunday, Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, Mauch Chunk and Greenwood streets, Tamaqua. Representatives from all Tamaqua area churches and faith-based organizations are invited to attend.
For more information about the Fellowship Network or the Advent breakfast, contact Taylor at (570) 668-4451.