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SLIDESHOW: Church celebrates Fat Tuesday with Chocolate Festival


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CHENEY — It was wall-to-wall chocolate at Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Cheney on Tuesday night as the congregation and community came together for its annual Mardi Gras celebration.

Traditionally, many churches celebrate Fat Tuesday (also known as Shrove Tuesday) with a pancake dinner as a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of Lent, explained church member Jane Ophus.

Four years ago, however, the church decided to start a new tradition. The Chocolate Festival originally started as a fall fundraiser for Lutherhaven Ministries.  Three years ago it became a Fat Tuesday fundraiser for the church’s Vacation Bible School.

Organizer Lenore LamBeau described it as a “night of chocolate decadence and gluttony” before Lent begins — a night that successfully raises enough money for VBS.

“I find it very meaningful, and this case very fun,” she said.

The nearby community seems to agree.

Upwards of 100 people attend the festival each year, which includes chocolate cookies, brownies, candy, a chocolate fountain and other chocolaty treats.

“Who doesn’t like chocolate?,” said Jen Hamilton, who came up with the festival idea.

Members of the church provide the goodies, and each year there seems to be plenty of dessert left over.

“It’s chocolate loaves and fishes,” Hamilton said. “This place just oozes with chocolate.”

Lent begins Wednesday and continues until March 30.

Are you giving up something? Let us know in the comment section below.

Tracy Simmons
Tracy Simmons
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of FāVS.News, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.

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