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Faithful followers enjoy winter Grace Parker breakfasts

(Feb. 20, 2015) The first Wednesday of next month, March 4, the First Presbyterian Church will have its final Grace Parker all-you-can-eat breakfast for the winter season from 7 a.m. to noon.

Eggs any style, pancakes, buckwheat pancakes, bacon, Milton sausage, country ham, homemade biscuits, hash brown potatoes, grits, coffee, tea, milk, soda and orange juice will be offered.

“People are very faithful and have come for years and from all over,” Volunteer Donna Greenwood said during the February breakfast. “They see people they know and it’s a once a month gathering for some.”

Each breakfast, about 200 people dine-in and more than 100 carry-out orders are made throughout the morning of the first Wednesday of every month in the wintertime.

Members of city council and the police department are regulars at Grace Parker’s breakfast. Those who work at City Hall make a big carry-out order as well, Greenwood said.

The preparation for breakfast starts the day before, Greenwood said. Volunteers, most of them known as “Woman of Worship,” come in to set up the tables and decorate the room. Preparation of the buckwheat’s, ham and sausage gets started.

On the morning of March 4, volunteers will begin arriving at 4:30 a.m. to start cooking. Later, the servers will arrive up until 7 a.m. The big rush starts about an hour later and lasts until 10 a.m.

About 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 cooking breakfasts. She made her own jellies and mouthwatering biscuits, Greenwood said.

Although the exact year could not be determined, the Grace Parker breakfasts started sometime between 1955 and 1960, when construction started on the new church.

“Grace Parker was told they couldn’t afford a kitchen in the new church, and she said, ‘Yes, we will.’ That is why we still call the breakfasts’ Grace Parker today,” said life-long Ocean City resident and member of the First Presbyterian Church, Pete Steger. 

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

The proceeds go toward projects, missions, scholarships and other special needs of the church such as new tables. 

In 1962, the First Presbyterian Church moved from North Division and Baltimore Ave. to 13th Street on North Philadelphia Ave. and its previous location was sold to the Baptist Church.

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 Lorraine’s health started to decline. He promised the ladies of the church if they wanted to continue the breakfast tradition, he would take over cooking and ordering duties.

“It’s such a wonderful congregation and they welcome people with open arms,” Donna Greenwood said. “The breakfast couldn’t be done without support of many people, and it’s a team effort.”

The cost is $8 to dine-in. Carry-out is available for $6. For more information, call 410-289-9340.

Organizer Chris Greenwood makes eggs for a patron on
Feb. 4 during the First Presbyterian Church’s Grace
Parker all-you-can-eat breakfast. The 13th Street church
will host their final breakfast of the season on March 4 from
7 a.m. to noon. The breakfast is a fundraiser for the church.

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