The first time the words “oyster and supper” appear together in the history of the Graceham Moravian Church is in the form of an entry in The History of Graceham, Frederick County, Maryland by Rev. A.L. Oerter, A.M. The book is compiled, in part, from diary entries of pastors from the church’s formation in 1758  through 1908. The Reverend Maurice F. Oerter’s diary entry from March 2, 1900, reads: “The Ladies’ Aid Society gave an oyster-supper in the lecture-room.” The lecture-room being an area behind the sanctuary as it existed at that time. While no prices are given, or amounts raised, the Ladies’ Aid Society, formed in 1889, was already noted in the diaries for holding suppers and “carrying on it’s good work of raising funds for church purposes, in which [it] has been very successful, having contributed material aid towards the various enterprises of the congregation.”

Oysters, an expensive dish today, were once considered an inexpensive delicacy due to their abundance in the Chesapeake Bay, which may help to explain how they came to be a fixture on the menu of a church far from the bay waters.

The “supper,” as it’s come to be known, eventually settled on a menu of turkey, oysters, and all the sides, served in the spring and the fall. Although the records referenced ham and beef at various times, the one constant throughout the history has been the oysters. Served family-style and all-you-can-eat, Graceham’s fried oysters, dipped in a “secret blend” and “patted” in cracker crumbs, draw in diners by the hundreds each year. The supper has long since moved from a Ladies’ Aid (now called Women’s Fellowship) function to a church-wide event, with everyone from youth serving the tables to more senior helpers in their 80’s and even 90’s volunteering in the kitchen. Planning begins months ahead, and the week prior to the supper is filled with the preparation of hundreds of pounds of turkey, pans of stuffing and cole slaw, cakes baked, the grinding of almost 200 boxes of saltine crackers, and finally, the preparation of green beans, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and gallons of oysters, patted and deep fried fresh the day of the supper. The supper is truly a community event, with all food purchased from local businesses and volunteers from 4-H and Girl Scout troops assisting.

Ask almost any Graceham member, and they will have a memory of helping with the supper, some stretching back 70 years. Life-time member Ann Miller remembers her grandmother, Sylvia Fisher, working the “cake table,” cutting slices from a variety of homemade cakes, arranging them on glass serving dishes to be  presented to diners for dessert along with their coffee.

 Most members will also tell you the experience of pulling off such a large undertaking is as much about the camaraderie and fellowship of working toward a common goal and serving the community as it is about fundraising.

After a four-year break, the Spring 2024 Turkey and Oyster Supper—to the delight of many in the community—is back! The supper will be held Saturday, March 23, from noon to 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $30.00 for adults, $15.00 for youth (ages 6-12), and free for ages five and under. Tickets can be purchased the day of the supper.

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