It is a rare occasion that a newspaper IS the news of the day

We hope to become your new source of news, information and features about the people and places in the greater Olney area,

A feast for the soul – communities find recipe for friendship –

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

When members of Sharp Street United Methodist Church and Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting of Friends gathered to break bread on Nov. 4, they furthered the deeply rooted connection between two long-standing communities.

The event was a pot-luck luncheon held at Friends Community House, offering the opportunity to sample recipes from the recently released cookbook, “Feast of Goodness,” a joint venture of the two groups.

The event was about more than just eating. It was about celebrating a meaningful connection in a community that has always embraced diversity.

The connection spans centuries.

The Quakers were among the earliest settlers of the area, arriving in the early 1700s.

Many freed their slaves in the early 1800s, decades before other parts of the nation, and gifted them land.

Founded in 1822, Sharp Street United Methodist Church is considered the oldest independent African-American church in Montgomery County. The land on which the church stands today, at 1310 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, was deeded to freed blacks in Sandy Spring by Quaker Friends.

The idea of a cookbook came about when members of both communities gathered to talk about a project. A committee was formed, and included Debra Butler, Jacqueline Daye, Margaret Fant, Donna Hamilton, Octavia Hill Jeffries and Deborah Kahn.

“We thought a cookbook showed our diversity and uniqueness in a lot of ways,” Fant said. “We also thought it was a good opportunity to come together to share how people love to commune around food; just like in our homes, people gather in the kitchen.”

The ladies worked diligently for nine months to develop their idea of creating a cookbook that would represent the two communities, reflecting their rich histories as well as the present.

They gathered favorite recipes and included notes about the recipes’ origins or special techniques.

“There are recipes passed down from generation to generation, along with some new-fangled shortcuts,” Fant said.

Fant says the cookbook reaffirms that although there are differences, people are the same.

“As long as you share and show love, we can overcome anything,” she said. “We don’t look at differences, we look at similarities. The legacy of the Quakers holds true — don’t look at skin color. The heart speaks through all the chaos of the world.”

Kahn said that although the project was more work than expected, it brought more joy and meaning than anticipated.

“We’ve developed personal friendships and bonds,” she said. “In these times we are in, we know how important it is to continue the long history and work together towards justice. It reaffirms the value and joy of that.”

Kahn said she hopes it will have a ripple effect and inspire others in the community to work together.

The “Minute,” approved by Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting of Friends, reports, “The Committee and those people who submitted their favorite recipes accomplished a new network of connections. They created a cookbook, a concrete example of how our lives are similar and different, for all to recognize and share. They built a fellowship of the delight in our communizes over a common thread: food. They helped us rediscover the pleasures of breaking bread together. And they recorded our shared history by renewing our awareness of our similar tastes and methods of bring stories to the table. This joint project has created a new pathway to help our communities remain accountable to each other for our lives and our actions.”


Friendship fits them to a T(ea)


The collaboration of the two communities began with librarian friends Nora Caplan and Doris Tarpley more than a decade ago. As they discussed ways to promote education and socialize, they came up with the idea of a Scholarship Tea Party.

The first Thelma E. Ricks Scholarship Tea took place in 2005. The event, complete with white linens, china, floral centerpieces, delicious food and high fashion, has continued each year since, raising $141,700 in scholarships.

This year’s Tea Party took place in September.

Money for the scholarship fund comes from donations received throughout the year.

In addition to the cookbook and annual tea, Daye said the groups sometimes worship together. They also work together to provide clothing and toys for local children in need during the holiday season.

“People in the community see what we do,” Daye said. “An organization of black women and white women coming together on one accord. We work well together and we have fun together.”


    The cookbook costs $20 and is available for purchase at Cricket Book Shop in Ashton. The money raised from the cookbook sales will be used cover the cost of production.

Advertise With Us

The Greater Olney News reaches more than 20,000 homes and businesses through the U.S. Postal Service and hundreds more are dropped at businesses and popular gathering spots.

For a media kit, deadlines, rates and other advertising information, call 240-454-5648.

Read More