When a church has been around for more than 100 years, you’d expect there to be many traditions that have carried on within the body of believers for decades. Unfortunately, as time marches on and people move away, the opportunities for traditions wane. But one thing that has remained – hospitality.
Our church has the reputation of being one of the friendliest churches in Louisville. Romans 12:12–13 says, “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.” We are a praying church. We are a church that preaches and teaches hope in Christ. We are a church who cares for those in need. And we pursue hospitality.
One of the pillars of NAOBC from past decades was Howard Downing. Deacon and Sunday School Director, Mr. Downing had an infectious laugh, and he and his wife, Juanita, were vital to the life of the church. Just ask their granddaughter, Amy Pierce, who is an NAOBC member. Juanita even wrote our church history that we cherish to this day. Howard was known for one of his specialties – orange tea. At family and church functions, this yummy libation was served, and rarely did it pass your lips that you didn’t ask for the recipe. One of those people who wanted the recipe was Martha Sirles.
If you don’t know Martha and Urb Sirles, you need to. They are also pillars of NAOBC, serving in leadership throughout the years. Martha portrays the picture of hospitality every chance she gets. She frequently pulls out that tea recipe – which she has adapted and calls “Fruit Tea” – to serve others. Like Howard, Martha gets requests for the recipe every time it’s served. Throughout the years and generations, this tea carries with it memories and tradition, and fosters the joy of practicing hospitality.
Maybe you are planning a gathering of your BFG as part of “Pressing In.” Maybe you are entertaining neighbors in order to “reach out” and begin planting seeds to share the gospel. What better way to have a simple conversation starter than serving up a glass of iced tea steeped in tradition? As you sip together, you share the story of how, through the years, NAOBC has been blessed with serving saints. May one day we will all be as faithful to our Lord and His church as the Downings and the Sirles. It could all start with a simple glass of tea.
(adapted from Howard Downing’s “Orange Tea” recipe)
Bring to a boil 3 ½ quarts of water. Remove from heat and add 9 Family Size Tea Bags. Cover and let steep for 3 hours.
Remove tea bags and carefully squeeze excess in the pan. Add 6 cups of sugar.
Stir until completely dissolved. Store concentrate in quart jars and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
TO MAKE ONE GALLON OF TEA
1 quart of tea concentrate
1-6 oz. frozen lemonade
½ cup of orange juice
Mix well and serve over ice with a slice of orange.