Using their noodle
Church volunteers crank out homemade pasta
Delores Grigsby and Paula Sondej prepare to-go orders during the Gates Fourth United Methodist Church annual Chicken Noodle lunch Nov. 7. Buy This Photo
Dolores Grigsby is a proud noodle queen at Gates Fourth United Methodist Church.
Grigsby is among a dozen or so volunteers who turn out about 50 pounds of egg noodles a week, with all proceeds going to the church.
She's quite confident in the natural product, made from flour, eggs, oil and salt.
"We're as good as Der Dutchman," Grigsby said, referring to the popular Plain City restaurant.
Paula Sondej, who's been helping at the church since she was a teenager, said parish dinners have been an important part of Gates Fourth for as long as she can remember.
Noodles joined the menu about 30 years ago. Back then, they were made by hand. These days, a mixer and hand-crank are used.
It's a process that takes about a day and a half, including mixing, cutting, drying on racks and packaging. The noodles are somewhat narrow and thick, unlike the common wide and flat style popular in grocery stores. A wheat version also is available.
On Nov. 6 and 7, Gates Fourth held its annual chicken-and-noodles dinner, serving upwards of 800 people and raising about $3,000.
But the work's not done, as far as the noodles are concerned.
Volunteers continue to make them throughout the year, selling 1-pound bags for $1 at the Grove City Farmers' Market during the summer and at the church, 119 E. Gates St.
Dave Harkless, a so-called "noodle king," admits the process can be tedious but gives himself plaudits for efficiency in making the dough and shredding the noodles.
"I'm good at it," he said. "I can do it faster than anyone else."
The noodle makers are trying to pass their pasta proclivities down to a new generation, which has been a challenge.
"You almost have to be retired to do noodles," Sondej said.
The Rev. Grayson Atha, who was hired at Gates Fourth a few months ago, said in his 53 years in the ministry, he's seen many churches have a particular program that brings people together.
"Here, I find that the people are brought together making these noodles, serving the noodles and selling the noodles at, I think, at a very inexpensive price," Atha said.
"And in the process, I think, people are able to share their concerns and joys. And it's not just about noodles, it's about relationships and sharing with guests who come into our church."