ELLSWORTH — It isn’t Christmas — or Hanukkah, for that matter — without cookies.
To that end, the creative souls at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ellsworth have been mixing, baking and decorating dozens and dozens of cookies in anticipation of the annual cookie walk from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 15.
“Fifty members of our congregation agree to bake at least three dozen cookies and have them at church on Friday at 5,” said the Rev. Sara Hayman.
“Worker elves” on Saturday before the cookie walk will arrange all the cookies on long tables.
All those cookies, approximately 2,000, will be available for purchase. The church’s cookie walk is in its fourth year.
“The invitation is broad for holiday cookies of all stripes,” Hayman said. The congregation is such that members might celebrate Christmas or the winter solstice or Hanukkah, she said.
That’s the case for parishioner Mary Haynes of Ellsworth, who has teamed up with another congregant, Jude Lamb, the past three years to make gingerbread men.
Jude was born into a Universalist congregation in the western Maine town of West Paris.
In Haynes’ case, she converted to Judaism after marrying the late state Rep. Edward Povich, who owned and operated Mike’s Country Store on Water Street.
After Povich died, Haynes tried to keep going to the synagogue Congregation Beth El in Bangor, but it was sad.
“That was something he and I did together,” she said.
Haynes said she knew she needed a religious community. “And I thought, well, the Unitarians take everybody.”
Haynes and Lamb know each other through church.
“I said I don’t mind baking but I don’t like decorating,” Haynes said.
Lamb added, “I said I could care less about making cookies, but I like to decorate.”
“We said ‘let’s get together,’” the pair chimed in unison.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Lamb added.
Haynes mixes, rolls and cuts out the gingerbread dough and bakes the cookies.
Once the cookies are baked, Lamb comes over and the two set to work using royal icing that Haynes has made and an assortment of sprinkles procured from Walmart.
The women are happy to help the church. They advise anyone interested in buying a box of cookies to show up early. Last year, the church ran out of cookies a good 30 minutes before closing time.
“I’m really happy to do this with Mary,” Lamb said. “I used to bake gingerbread men with my kids. They’re all in Maine but they’re too far apart and too busy to do that now.”
The women noted the abundance of children in their church’s congregation.
“We have a lot of children,” Lamb said. “It’s a vibrant and growing community in contrast to a lot of the mainstream churches in town.”
“We wanted to celebrate the holiday season in a fun way and also have a community building way to raise money for the church and the causes we support,” Hayman said. “The cookie box sales will support the church’s operating budget as well as the community organizations the church supports, including Loaves & Fishes food pantry and the Emmaus Homeless Shelter.
“We really rely on the friends and members of the congregation to do the baking.”
Hayman said her church was inspired by Brooksville’s Reversing Falls Sanctuary, which has hosted an annual cookie walk for several years.
How does a cookie walk work?
Participants may purchase small or large empty boxes. A small box is $10 and a large box is $20.
“They put on a glove and they can walk around and put cookies in a box,” she said. “We wrap the boxes and put on a sticker.”
Maybe the boxes of cookies are given away as gifts or maybe they’re eaten in the car on the way home.
This year, there will also be truffles, including Nutella-flavored ones courtesy of Haynes.
The church is located at 121 Bucksport Road in Ellsworth. For more information, call 667-4393 or email [email protected].