Dinner organisers call it a day

The Rev David and Jean Brown (centre), son-in-law Dave McMorran (left) and daughter Angela McMorran (right) prepare to serve Christmas dinner for the last time at the St Andrew St Church of Christ community dinner. Photo by Gerard O'Brien
The Rev David and Jean Brown (centre), son-in-law Dave McMorran (left) and daughter Angela McMorran (right) prepare to serve Christmas dinner for the last time at the St Andrew St Church of Christ community dinner. Photo by Gerard O'Brien

Christmas dinner was the end of an era this year for the Rev David (65) and Jean (66) Brown.

The Dunedin couple have put on a Christmas Day community dinner at St Andrew St Church of Christ each year for the past 25 years, but now that they have reached retirement age, they are calling it a day.

Mr Brown said yesterday was one of the busiest community dinners the church had hosted, with more than 250 guests and 60-plus volunteers.

So much so, he said, he had little time to think about the fact it was the last time he and his wife would run the event.

''Next year at this time, we'll feel a bit strange - a bit lost, like we should be doing something. But then it might be good to do a `normal' Christmas.''

When asked what a ''normal Christmas'' was, he said: ''I don't know. We've been doing this for so long.''

The Browns said they would miss running the event, mostly because it had become a family affair with their daughter Angela and her husband Dave McMorran also helping.

The event is one of many community activities established and run by Mr and Mrs Brown, including a Friday night drop-in centre, the Space 2B at lunchtimes, working with migrants, industrial chaplaincy, and helping to establish the Night Shelter Trust and Habitat for Humanity.

The couple have been at the church for 27 years, and will retire on Sunday following their final church service.

''Because I'm part of the furniture here, there will be some sad people when we go,'' Mr Brown said.

''But a new face often brings new vitality to a church.''

While neither the Browns nor the McMorrans would help with the dinner next year, they hoped it would continue.

''It gets more popular every year,'' Mr Brown said.

''The venue is starting to get too small. We've got a tent set up out in the car park for dishwashing.

''I think they'll have to find somewhere bigger next year.''

Daryl Williams, of Dunedin, who attended the community dinner yesterday for the first time, said he was grateful to be able to celebrate Christmas with other people for a few hours.

His family all lived in Christchurch and he was pleased for the company, he said.

''I was at a bit of a lost end.

''It's marvellous what they do here.''

Alvin Roberts, of Gisborne, was in a similar situation.

He had been making a delivery in Dunedin when the gearbox in his truck blew up.

''I'm trapped here for a few days, so I came down to have some lunch and make some new friends,'' he said.
john.lewis@odt.co.nz

Tremendous job

What a tremendous job these people and all the volunteers etc have done over the years with this event.

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