Tillier Says Teamwork Key Ingredient of Christ Church’s ‘Chili to Go’
A big team of parishioners pitches in to offer Christ Episcopal Church’s “Chili to Go,” to the Guilford community. But when it comes to helping pull it all together, someone has to hold the ladle. This year, the ladle’s been passed to Susan Tillier.
Susan credits Jennifer Huebner, Christ Church’s chili supper organizer of over 10 years, with providing the right stuff to help ensure the ongoing success of annual event. Then there’s chief chili chef David Jones, who has manned the pots for many years. Both continue to be key ingredients to the success of the church chili team, says Susan, together with the help of many others.
She also thanks Christ Church Director of Communications, Donna LaFata, for her help in advertising and marketing for the big night. All proceeds from the chili meals ($8 adults, $5 children, tickets at the door) benefit Meals on Wheels.
A staple of Guilford’s Tree Lighting night, Christ Church’s annual chili supper is celebrating its 51st year in 2022. On Friday, Dec. 2, “Chili to Go,” will be served outside Christ Church’s historic, Gothic Revival stone building at 11 Park St., from 5 to 7 p.m. Look for twinkling lights over the church driveway, lighting the way to steaming pots of traditional chili and vegetarian chili, warm cider and corn bread. Christ Church’s Christmas Market (tag sale treasures), Women’s Group cookies and hot cocoa sale, and youth group’s annual wreath sale are also part of the night’s offerings.
“Enjoying the warm chili on a cold night, and the additional aspects – the Women’s Group cookie sale, the Christmas Market Place, and the youth group’s wreath sale, make it a great little community, with a lot of different facets, right there on the Green,” says Susan. “People can wander by and really enjoy the fellowship.”
The exciting outdoor event is still relatively new, and a switch from the traditional chili supper held in the church hall for decades. “Chili to Go” was developed in response to the pandemic, as way to keep the event going while staying safe.
“We were all struck horrifically by the pandemic and the COVID-era. However, there have been positive effects, and I think something like this is such,” says Susan. “We adapted. We became flexible and creative in our approach, and it has actually turned out for the better, I think.”
A few years ago, Susan’s husband, Martin, joined in the effort as an assistant chili cook. There are also many, many cornbread bakers involved each year, Susan notes.
“Prior to the event, Jennifer Huebner hands out cornbread tins to parishioners who volunteer to make cornbread and bring it to the hall,” says Susan. “For the actual making of the chili, Martin and David will probably start over at the kitchen at 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 2. So if anybody’s wandering by, they’ll smell the wafts of garlic and onion and chili being prepared.”
Christ Church’s Dec. 2 offering is one of a constellation of events that will be underway at churches and other spots around the Guilford Green on the night of the Tree Lighting. The special night always brings the community together to celebrate the start of the holidays.
For Christ Church, “...it’s an opportunity for us to give back to the community, to create this festive environment for the tree lighting, as well as bring our parish together, both in organizing, volunteering and working together; all with the understanding that all the proceeds from the chili supper will be designated to Meals on Wheels,” says Susan.
Susan and Martin, a British native, moved to Guilford a little over 16 years ago. The couple met in Tokyo and lived in parts of Europe before moving to North Carolina, followed by coming to Guilford. Their family includes three children, now all young adults. Of all the places they’ve called home, Susan says the family loves the town of Guilford.
“It’s idyllic,” says Susan. “Martin, being British, keeps saying, ‘It’s called New England for a reason.’ We’re all very happy here. We’ve found a wonderful community.”
Being a part of Christ Church has been another benefit for the family.
“Soon after we arrived, we became members of the church,” says Susan.
Once their two youngest children both graduated from Guilford High School in recent years and became college students, Susan says she and Martin felt they had a chance to get more involved in their church.
“Throughout the high school years and various activities, we’ve sort of been on the fringes of church activity; but it gives us an opportunity now to be a little more active,” says Susan, who is also is a member of the Christ Church’s Outreach Committee.
Susan said Christ Church is a place of warmth and peace that welcomes all, including families with young ones.
“There’s a warmth and an opportunity for families to become members and just be participatory in the church,” says Susan. “There’s a great youth group, and child care opportunities that give parents an opportunity to come to church and share in that peace, knowing their children are being well taken care of.”
Anyone interested in learning more about Christ Episcopal Church is welcome to visit the church at 11 Park St. or learn more at its website, http://www.christchurchguilford.org/