When the Brotherhood of St. Andrew chapter at St. Michael’s-by-the Sea, Carlsbad tossed around ideas for a new social event, the suggestion was, “how about a men’s-only night?” The first Sizzle and Stein took place on a Friday evening in June, just as VBS was wrapping up.
Food lists were made, flyers and posters hung, electronic invites sent, items posted to Facebook, and Sunday bulletin inserts printed. Invitations went to neighboring congregations in North County, and guests from St. Andrew’s, Encinitas, and Holy Cross, Carlsbad showed.
Hosted by St. Michaels’ chapter with support from the Rev. Doran Stambaugh, rector, and the Rev. Ken Simon, associate rector, they set up shop in the fire pit area with grills, benches, tables and chairs, and 45 men gathered to enjoy a night of food, fun, conversation, and music. By taking RSVPs they knew just how many brats, steaks, and chicken to put on the barbie. There were side salads, chips and dip, soft drinks, and of course—beer! One parishioner, an expert brewer, donated three growlers.
The objectives were to build relationships, encourage members of St. Michael’s to join the brotherhood, and possibly help those of neighboring congregations set up chapters of their own. According to Mr. Chris Craig-Jones, a vestry member of St. Michael’s and vice-director of the Brotherhood chapter, “it was something we could invite people to on the first event, involve them in a follow up event, then help them hold their own events. In fact Mr. Craig-Jones reports their attendance increased at its next Brotherhood meeting.
Founded in Chicago in 1883 by James Houghteling at St. James Episcopal Church, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew expanded nationally, and since 1900 has boasted an international presence. Greg Gleason, director of St. Michael’s Brotherhood, says their chapter was founded in 2008 with a little help from another chapter in Orange County. The St. Michaels’ chapter is comprised of approximately 24 members who are invited to meetings; eight attend regularly.
Meetings occur on the fourth Tuesday of every month at St. Michael’s. A brother opens with formal prayer, then bible study follows with discussion about the meaning and how it applies to daily life. Clergy are present for spiritual guidance, direction, and insight, and help facilitate conversation.
“I think in general men are a bit more reserved when it comes to church social gatherings,” said the Rev. Doran Stambaugh. “It’s enough of a challenge to draw men from one’s own congregation, let alone form neighboring parishes. It was inspiring to see so many men take the risk of attending an event at a neighboring parish. It was a faithful and adventurous bunch! The success of the event speaks to the hunger that so many men have to gather in fellowship with brother Christians. Of course, it also speaks to the hunger that so many men have for meat products and malt beverages.
“When it comes to men’s ministry in the Episcopal Church, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The Brotherhood of St. Andrew is really a hidden gem: it is a great gift to our church, and one we hope to share for the spread of Christ’s kingdom among men and boys.”
The only chapter in San Diego’s diocese, St. Michael’s, seeks to establish chapters in other congregations.
Disciplines of prayer, study, and service mark the Brotherhood. One Saturday monthly the St. Michael’s brothers serve the garden guild and do handyman jobs around church and every Shrove Tuesday they flip pancakes for parishioners. Biannually they distribute more than 3,000 bottles of water at Carlsbad’s Village Fair (with St. Michael’s labels on them)! Mr. Craig-Jones says, “we ask for donations, and the water just flows in—literally! We give that to God, and He looks after it.”
Mr. Jerry Campbell, one of the men who attended the event reflected that, “the centerpiece of Christianity has always been the shared meal with believers. The power of the faithful coming together over food and drink is palpable, whether it is at the communion rail or at the grill. The opportunity to gather with the men of St. Michael’s and to hoist a cold beer in honor of the prince of peace was the best Eucharist I’ve had in quite a while.”
Hebrews 13:1 tells us, “Let brotherly love continue.” Sizzle and Stein was so successful plans are already underway for a fall event. This one might be a chili cook-off. And ladies, you’re invited, but only to drop off your men.
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