Traditional festival still resonates for Ilford congregations

PUBLISHED: 12:09 02 October 2016

Rev Janet Buchan and the foodbank gifts

Rev Janet Buchan and the foodbank gifts


Throughout history, people have given thanks for the maturing of crops that kept them alive in the winter months.

Now, although the majority of people do not rely on their collection of crops to see them through until spring, the traditional thanksgiving is still celebrated.

At St Paul’s Church, Barley Lane, Goodmayes, the congregation celebrated by donating goods to Redbridge Foodbank.

Rev Janet Buchan, 60, said the harvest thanksgiving allows people to offer thanks to God in return for the food they have.

“It’s obviously a bit different now!” she said.

“Most people don’t have a direct connection with the food they grow, but it’s about being generous in response to God’s generosity to us.

“Sometimes, people might think to look in their cupboard and see what they haven’t used in order to donate it, but there’s actually specific items that the foodbank is in need of.”

The traditional harvest festival, celebrated every year in churches, chapels and schools, was only started in 1843, although a more low-key ritual called Lammas occurred in medieval times.

This was taken over by the early church to reduce the influence of the ancient pagan customs.

The origins of the modern thanksgiving are traced to Rev Robert Stephen Hawker, from Cornwall.

On the first Sunday of the month following harvest, his parishioners received the bread of the new corn in a church decorated with fruit and flowers, and this established the harvest thanksgiving.

“There are key items that the foodbank needs,” said Rev Buchan.

“Non-perishables, especially tinned meat, fish and desserts are really helpful. It is vital to check that the “use by” date is at least three months ahead, as it may take weeks for the items to be distributed.”

To see a full list of suggested items, click here.

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