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First Mother-Daughter Tea draws crowd

By Staff | May 17, 2019

Steve Smith, of Shepherdstown, serves a selection of tea sandwiches to Wildwood Middle School seventh grader Maggie Kester, during the Mother-Daughter Tea on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Piles of tea sandwiches, tarts and cookies spread out across a long table covered with a white table cloth, waiting to be indulged in by about 70 attendees to New Street United Methodist Church’s first Mother-Daughter Tea on Saturday afternoon.

Mothers and daughters came together or alone to the tea, which featured door prizes and a performance of “Women of the Bible” by actress Anita Gutschick.

“It really is beautiful,” said event organizer Carol Goldthorpe of the event. “We wanted this event to bring women together and to celebrate women.”

According to NSUMC Rev. Dee-Ann Dixon, the tea is the first Mother’s Day event the church has held in at least 20 years.

“We haven’t had anything like this since I came here, and I’ve been here 20 years,” Dixon said. “It’s been a dream for over a year — Carol and I dreamed it up, and we asked, ‘Can we really pull this off?'”

A spread of homemade tea sandwiches and desserts wait to be served to attendees at New Street United Methodist Church's first Mother-Daughter Tea on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

When Goldthorpe saw Gutschick perform at another event, she realized she had found the missing piece to make the tea an unforgettable experience.

“She completes our program,” Goldthorpe said. “You always like to have, when you have a tea, a time for women’s fellowship. Our performer just adds so much to the event, from a woman’s perspective.”

While attendees sipped on their tea from bone china donated by the church’s congregation, Gutschick was hard at work in the church’s sanctuary, as she prepared to deliver her three solo performance plays on the Biblical characters of Ruth, Rebecca and the Woman at the Well.

“I became an actress when I was 40, and pursued community theater vigorously,” Gutschick said, mentioning she started touring across the U.S. in 1999 after being asked to perform a solo performance of a Bible character at her church. “It was a success. Through a series of events, God made it clear it was my calling, so I laid down all of my other interests in community theater and devoted myself to this.”

Since her stage career began, Gutschick has spoken in “everything from Catholic churches to synagogues” and developed 32 solo performances, telling the stories of Bible characters with a personal perspective.

About 70 women attended the Mother-Daughter Tea at New Street United Methodist Church on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

“When we read the stories in the Scriptures, all we get are the facts. But when you see the stories — when I portray them — you get to feel the stories. You get to see the motives behind what they did and imagine what they felt,” Gutschick said. “When men and women and children see that, on top of the story, they say, ‘Aha!'”

For Harpers Ferry resident Gaye Snyder, the tea was an opportunity to celebrate Mother’s Day, since her daughter was unable to celebrate it with her.

“My daughter is a nurse at Berkeley Medical Center and she’s working all this weekend. I was feeling iI wasn’t going to have any Mother’s Day festivities, so this was a way for me to do something special for me this Mother’s Day weekend,” Snyder said. “I have seen Anita perform in the past. When . . . I saw she was going to be the special guest, I was excited to come.”

The church plans on holding a Mother-Daughter Tea every-other-year, in between years when they hold their Spring Fling fundraiser.