The Mission Tea
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12: 12-13 (NIV).
Be Joyful in Hope
When Deb Hagan, local realtor and director of the Women’s Ministry at First Baptist Church, was looking for inspirational ways to engage the women of the church in new activities, she brought the idea of a tea to benefit missions to the ladies of the congregation. The Christmas Mission Tea was an event that Hagan had experienced eight years prior at other churches served in the Atlanta area by she and her husband Keith, administrative pastor at First Baptist.
A working mother of four, who homeschooled all of her children, Hagan felt that the tea would be a great way for the women of the church to get to know each other better, to share their talents, and to foster relationships.
In addition to being a fundraiser for missions, Hagan and the Women’s Ministry committee including Deanna Keene, Mandy Fortune, Christy Earl, Emily Fennell, Amanda Wheeler, Melanie Brady, and Ashley Galo, ask women, some church members and some members of the broader community, to decorate tables for eight in the Christmas theme.
The hostesses are responsible for bringing plates, cups and saucers, teapots, creamers and sugars, water glasses, flatware, serving trays and any other essentials for serving tea. They also bring seasonal decorations to form a centerpiece for the table. There will be 32 tables total this year.
Last year was the first time the Women’s Ministry hosted the Mission Tea in the Perry Fellowship Hall. Eileen Daily of Millen, Georgia, was the event chairperson.
“It was right up her alley,” said Mandy Fortune. “She did a fantastic job of coordinating everything.”
Patient in Affliction
Daily, who also homeschooled all four of her children, decorated her own tables in addition to being the event’s chairperson last year.
“She brought extra serving pieces and decorations for the ladies to use,” said Fortune. “She swapped out napkin rings and changed serving pieces, helping everyone with their set-up. They were so excited!”
“Even though there was one theme [Christmas] all of the tables were different. Each hostess brought her own special talents for decorating. It was really beautiful,” Fortune said.
This year, Daily’s mother is in hospice and she won’t be able to contribute the time required to oversee the organization of the tea. Deb Hagan has stepped in to chair the event. There are a couple of month’s preparation before the tea that Hagan will oversee.
Faithful in Prayer
“I basically contact all the hostesses and get them signed up. We have a special breakfast about a month prior to the tea to thank our hostesses and to share details of the event,” said Hagan.
The fellowship hall is open the day before the Sunday afternoon tea to give volunteers plenty of time to decorate their tables. In addition to decorating, the hostesses will serve tea to the ladies at their tables. “Also we ask all of our hostesses to join the committee in being in prayer for the tea, the attendees, and the beneficiaries of the missions,” Hagan said.
Tickets are sold through the Women’s Ministry at the church for $10 per person. Ladies six-years-old and up are encouraged to attend. Proceeds cover the cost of dainty sandwiches and sweets and all the accoutrements of tea. A love offering is collected to benefit missions.
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.
A portion of the love offering will go to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Missions, a Southern Baptist tradition named for missionary Charlotte Digges "Lottie" Moon who spent nearly 40 years as a missionary to China (1873-1912). A well-educated woman, Moon was reared in Virginia and became a well-respected teacher and evangelist, laying a foundation of traditionally solid support for missions among Baptists in America. Today Lottie Moon personifies Baptist missions.
This year’s tea will also benefit Statesboro missionary Cierra Crowe. Crowe grew-up in First Baptist Church and worked for a time at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, before departing for Africa. At 19-years-old, she is now serving in the Kabowa community of Uganda, with Delight in the Lord Missions.
Delight in the Lord Ministries, Inc., is a non-profit organization founded by Crowe. She first visited Uganda for three months on a mission trip during the summer of 2015, and fell in love with Uganda’s culture and people. She returned this year and is spending six months learning the local language, which is Luganda, and starting small backyard Bible studies and a tutoring program that includes after-school snacks for the children. She will return to Statesboro this fall to share her experiences with plans to return to Uganda in 2017.
“At the tea we ask the hostesses not to promise all the seats at their tables to friends,” said Fortune. “We really want this to be a way for women to get to know others that maybe they haven’t met before. We want to get them out of their comfort zone and into fostering new relationships.
We had such positive feedback from last year, we are doing as many tables as the room can hold this year,” she said. “Our desire this year is to allow the ladies to spend more time getting to know each other. One take-away from last year is that we all wished we had more time to visit.”
Started as a way to foster fellowship among women, the Christmas Mission Tea also has a broader implication for the Women’s Ministry Committee, the hostesses and attendees.
“It’s not all about what you can get out of it,” said Hagan, “but also about what you can give. Love allows women to use God’s gifts in many, many ways.”