"A sure sign of spring?" laughed Pastor Bill Deskin. "How about the signs on the streets announcing the start of our Thursday lunches?"

Indeed, for approximately the past 23-24 years, an informal group of some 20 volunteers at Granger’s Emmanuel United Methodist Church has been creating and serving upwards of 100 portions for parishioners and visitors alike.

The original idea, said lunch member Gary Peggs, was to pay off the mortgage. Now the funds are used for church maintenance.

Organization is key. Meals are assembled Wednesday mornings for service beginning at 11:30 a.m. Thursdays. "They have a detailed battle plan," says Pastor Deskin. Members say the recipes developed somewhat collectively. Ham Balls are the top seller. Some ideas, such as soup, flopped and were never repeated, said member Rosie Cook.

A look at the official kitchen manual details not only the recipes involved but alto the timetable and logistics needed: how many pans need to be greased, how many pounds of meat must be browned. Everybody has a specialty. Pater Deskin is by all accounts a terrific busboy and tea server. Robert Morin is known to some regulars as "Coffee Bob" for clear reasons.

Mildred Ricke is known for her pies. The Thursday lunch cognoscenti often select their pies first, select their table and then return to the lunch line for the main course and vegetables. Takeout is always an option, especially for the employees at nearby Barr-Nunn Trucking.

The lunch season resumes in the fall and runs until the holidays.

For more information contact the Emmanuel United Methodist Church, 1910 Locust St., Granger, at 999-2215.