Marie Lindauer checks whether apple pies are done baking in the kitchen of Bethany United Methodist Church in Spring Garden Township.
Marie Lindauer checks whether apple pies are done baking in the kitchen of Bethany United Methodist Church in Spring Garden Township. (YDR - BIL BOWDEN)
The aroma of chicken corn soup drifted into the parking lot from a door leading to the kitchen of Bethany United Methodist Church in Spring Garden Township.

Inside, soup simmered in heavy-gauge stock pots. Through the galley door, two dozen gray-haired church members hunched in folding chairs over their projects, assembling pies, peeling potatoes or picking meat off chicken carcasses.

It was day two of preparations for Bethany's annual holiday bazaar. Organizer Marie Lindauer, 70, of Spring Garden Township paused to list the full menu, and it took her nearly five minutes.

"Lasagna, oyster pie. Pies -- lemon sponge, cherry, apple, rhubarb, lemon meringue, coconut custard. Oyster sandwiches, fish sandwiches and french fries," she said in conclusion.

"Yesterday, we made apple dumplings -- 180 of them, which isn't as many as usual."

That's because Bethany doesn't have the help it used to -- a common complaint among churches with long-standing bazaar traditions and aging memberships. Some are trimming bazaar menus, shortening hours or canceling the fundraisers altogether.

The trend worries some organizers, who say the bazaar's days on the church calendar might be numbered.

"It is somewhat endangered," said the Rev. Judy McKee of Union Lutheran Church in York, which held its bazaar last weekend.

Often, younger members can't get off work to volunteer or aren't interested in crafts or the kitchen, McKee said. Sometimes, older members are reluctant to cede responsibilities to younger successors.

Bazaars are time consuming to organize, and retired members have often shouldered most of the food ordering, craft-making and labor, volunteers say.

"Folks have been doing it for years and years, and you get worn out," said Ed Trodden, 75, treasurer of Faith United Church of Christ in York, which held its bazaar last month.

"It's great you can do it at 60. But at 80, it's a lot."

Organizers at Christ Lutheran Church in Manchester canceled their annual bazaar this year due to lack of interest and help, said office administrator Laura Lenhart.

Crimping the pie crust proves the dessert is made by hand. Some crusts at Saturday s bazaar at Bethany United Methodist Church were store bought because of
Crimping the pie crust proves the dessert is made by hand. Some crusts at Saturday s bazaar at Bethany United Methodist Church were store bought because of lack of manpower. (YDR - BIL BOWDEN)

"It seems to have run its course, as all long-running events usually do," Lenhart said.

The bazaar had been a fundraiser for a women's group, which donated the proceeds for large church expenses or mission work. This year, the women are making pies for a pre-order sale instead.

Some congregations haven't noticed a change in enthusiasm for the bazaar.

"Every year, we say we can't do this another year," said Anne Duff, 72, who is president of the women's group at Trinity United Methodist in New Freedom.

"But we enjoy it and know we're working for God. . . . He seems to give us the strength every year, even though we're getting older."

Sharon Pichler, parish secretary at St.

Jo Kelly trims crust around a pie plate last week, while finished apple dumplings cover the countertop of Bethany United Methodist Church s kitchen.
Jo Kelly trims crust around a pie plate last week, while finished apple dumplings cover the countertop of Bethany United Methodist Church s kitchen. Members held their annual holiday bazaar fundraiser on Saturday, but some congregations worry the bazaar tradition is endangered. (YDR - BIL BOWDEN)
Mary's Catholic Church in York, said this weekend's bazaar is set up and taken down by student volunteers from York Catholic High School.

"I haven't noticed a decrease in people attending or helping. We were worried last year because of the economy, but it didn't translate," Pichler said.

Some congregations have re-styled the holiday-gift festival.

Many Jewish communities adopted a tradition of Hanukkah bazaars, in part to keep children from feeling left out during the gift-giving frenzy at Christmastime, said Allison Siegelman, co-chair of the annual bazaar Nov. 22 at Temple Beth Israel in York Township.

"Hanukkah is really not that significant a holiday in the Jewish religion, but it evolved to get more attention because of its proximity to Christmas and Jews' assimilating into the culture of the non-Jewish community, so to speak," Siegelman said by e-mail.

In addition to Judaica -- Jewish artwork, collectibles and ritual objects that can be hard to find in York County -- bazaar vendors will display arts and craft items from Israeli, European and local artisans, as well as handbags, jewelry and other items.

Fairfield Mennonite Church in Fairfield displays merchandise from the warehouse of the fair-trade Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata, including oriental rugs from Pakistan (the sale started this week and ends Saturday). The sale began more than 40 years ago.

Sustaining a tradition of any kind has to do with generations remaining connected to one another, among other factors, said the Rev. JP Bohanan of Bethany United Methodist.

Among the youngest volunteers in Bethany's kitchen last Thursday was Jenni Alwood, 36, of West Manchester Township.

Alwood takes off two days of work each fall to help make the soups, which follow her great-grandmother's recipes. She started doing bazaar prep 10 years ago alongside her grandmother, Grace Cunningham, who can no longer contribute.

"I kind of took that over from her," Alwood said. "It just got to be too much for her."

Bazaars, festivals

Here are some of the bazaars and fairs planned at local houses of worship:

-- Advent Lutheran Church, 1775 E. Market St., Springettsbury Township. Alternative Gift Fair, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29; 9:30 a.m. and noon Dec. 6 and 13. Benefits hunger relief agencies. 755-5007.

-- Christ Lutheran Church, 80 S. Main St. in Loganville. Bazaar and yard sale, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 21. Advance orders, 741-0001, 741-1554 or 428-3523 by Tuesday. Benefits Southern York County's emergency fuel fund.

-- Christ Lutheran Church, 105 S. Main St. in Shrewsbury, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Proceeds benefit ministries. 235-2053.

-- Christ (Roth's) Lutheran Church, 580 Roth's Church Road, Jackson Township, 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Breakfast is 8 to 10:45 a.m. Saturday. 225-3991.

-- Cross Roads United Methodist Church, 6881 Church Road, Cross Roads, 7:30 a.m. Nov. 28. Advance orders, call 993-6961 or 741-4366.

-- Fairfield Mennonite Church, 201 W. Main St. in Fairfield. International Fair Trade Gift & Oriental Rug Festival, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. 642-8936.

-- Faith Alive! Community Church, 1401 Williams Road in Springettsbury Township. Bethlehem Marketplace, noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 21. Proceeds benefit the youth group, the Construction Zone and mission work in Jinotepe, Nicaragua.

-- Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1121 Roosevelt Ave. in Manchester Township, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 21 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 22. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Proceeds support mission projects.

-- Grace Lutheran Church, 220 Charles St., Red Lion, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 21. An art auction at noon. Proceeds will benefit the restoration of a local landmark, the church steeple. 244-5987.

-- Lohr's Memorial United Methodist Church, 200 E. Middle St. in Hanover, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 12.

-- Otterbein United Methodist Church, Main and Center streets in Mount Wolf. Holiday Sparkle, 9 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Proceeds benefit the fund for a new church sign.

-- St. John's Blymire's United Church of Christ, 1009 Blymire Road in York Township. SERRV Sale 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 28. Proceeds help improve working conditions and provide access to education and health care for artisans and their families. 244-0655.

-- St. Joseph Parish in Hanover, 5125 Grandview Road in Penn Township, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to noon Sunday.

-- St. Paul Lutheran Church, 201 S. Main St. in Spring Grove, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 6.

-- St. Paul United Methodist Church, 2036 Telegraph Road in Pylesville, Md., 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 21. 410-452-5443.

-- Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene, Work and Witness fundraiser for Jamaica-bound mission team, 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

-- Temple Beth Israel, 2090 Hollywood Drive in York Township. Hanukkah bazaar, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 22.

-- Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 415 N. West St. in York, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

-- Trinity Roth's United Church of Christ, 6417 Church Road, Jackson Township, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 21.

-- Trinity United Church of Christ, 27 Manchester St. in Glen Rock, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 21.

-- Zwingli United Church of Christ, 403 W King St. in East Berlin. Christmas Block Party 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 29. Suggested donation $5.