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Secret Pie Room

June 16, 2008 | 8 Comments

Post to the Host:
I attended a funeral today at a Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) and after the burial at the cemetery we came back to the church hall for the funeral luncheon. On a door inside the church hall there was a small sign said, "Pie Room." I have never encountered a Pie Room in a church. Being an Episcopalian our church has an undercroft and a vestry but no Pie Room. I looked inside this Pie Room, which was the size of a large walk in closet, but there were no pies inside, nor was any pie served at the luncheon. Would this pie room be used to store pies, such as pumpkin, lemon, pecan or chocolate? Or is this Lutheran Pie Room used for rituals similar to those carried out in the various rooms you would find in an LDS temple? I have photographic documentation of the Pie Room door if you need verification.

Ed R.
St. Louis

Ed, you wandered into a secret sacred place and were I to tell you what a Pie Room is about, I would violate the sacred vows I took years ago when I was given my Lutheran underwear and I would no longer be one of the 167,000 who will be seated at the right hand of the Lamb at the millenial feast and also I would no longer be invited to anyone's house for coffee. Please destroy those photographs and don't ever speak of this again. Go back to your undercroft. The Pie Room has nothing to do with Sweeney Todd, despite the coincidence of the funeral. Put that out of your mind.


I love the "Sweeney Todd" comment.
My mother had a "pie room" when we
were growing up. She made the best
pie dough in the world, and always
made several pies for Thanksgiving
and Christmas. She stored them in
what we called the "service porch,"
which is known today as a "laundry
room." It wasn't heated, so was
nice and cool, even for Southern
California. I bet the "Pie Room"
is for pies. (I'm also
Episcopalian and not Lutheran).
San Clemente

I just recently became a Lutheran. I was previously a Catholic, but you make one wrong spousal selection and those guys won't ever let you forget it. I had suspected that there was more going on than "Pastor Mike" (if that's even his real name) was admitting to. New members apparently aren't told about the pie room. I will need to find out what Synod I am located in and write a sternly worded letter. And I suppose it won't hurt me in the meantime to miss out on a few pies.

I don't know about a pie room, but the the cafeteria in the LDS temple here in American Fork serves the most delicious coconut cream pie. We're so busy eating it, we don't have time to make fun of others' religion-based clothing habits.

"Millenial"? Nno, nno, Garrison, a thousand times nno!

I am Catholic, sharing in the preparation of many an annual Church dinner ("proceeds to be divided among our parish organizations"). I have a sneaking suspicion the Episcopalian "Pie Room" is where parishioners drop off their pies the morning of their annual dinner, fulfilling pledges made weeks prior by affixing signatures to sheets taped onto card tables in the church entryway. On "dinner day" pie cutter ladies begin carving the culinary creations into sixths an hour or so before the meal. Because of labor intensiveness, pie is never served at a funeral. Cake on the other hand (thank you, Betty Crocker) is a breeze. I'm confident Mrs. Sundberg will support me in this.

Mr. Keillor:

My husband (a native Iowan) and I live in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and we've been your devoted fans ever since we happened to catch your farewell show in the late 'eighties (so glad you changed your mind about that). Your wonderfully understated wit was done to perfection in your reply to Ed's question about Lutheran Pie Rooms (especially the line admonishing Ed to forget about any resemblance to the unfortunate souls in Sweeney Todd's basement).

I think Mary Ann may be right about the purpose of the Pie Room. My mother-in-law is a member of the United Church of Christ in Hampton, Iowa (located thirty miles south of Mason City, said to be the real River City, Iowa, in Meredith Wilson's The Music Man). At age eighty-three, she's one of three or four women from her Women's Fellowship who roll out about eighty-odd piecrusts in an afternoon. They use them to make their best selling fund raiser: rhubarb pies. It's all part of their effort to help the congregation stay fiscally afloat. Where they store these pies before selling them is something I've never thought to ask her, but now I will ask if her UCC has a pie room. It would be wonderful to think that they do.

It's obvious that my husband didn't choose well when he married a woman who can't make a decent piecrust, so when my mother-in-law comes to visit, she fills our freezer with her hand-rolled piecrusts so that he can use them when he makes his own apple pies.

My local church (of the United Church of Christ variety, historically Congregational) has a large "pie room" in our Fellowship Hall (read church basement). It's near the very large church kitchen. Our sanctuary was built during the early 1950's and moved into in 1954. During that time, in our town, there were very few restaurants and nowhere for large feeding events to take place, so along with the church dinners, our church kitchen and Fellowship Hall were used by other community organizations and businesses to hold big banquets. I'm sure the "pie room" was used to hold the delicately delicious pies and keep them out of the way from the flurry of other activity in the kitchen. These days, our community is frought with boring corporate restaurants and other venues where people do most of their festive eating. To be honest, since I've been a member of this church (since 1993) I've never seen a pie in the "pie room". It's used for storage now, filled with odd large serving dishes, and various bowls and casseroles left behind by dear folk who forgot to take them home after a potluck dinner.

I grew up Lutheran in Ohio but never heard of a "Pie Room". Of course there were pies, chocolate cake and jello salad, ham and other such "goodies". Years ago married a Japanese Lutheran pastor. Now it's sukiyaki for church Christmas dinner, and weekly fellowship after church with rice balls with picked plums or dried fish flakes in the middle, and for dessert sweet red bean paste in center of Japanese pastry. Yes, we have potlucks - husband's sauerkraut goes over big (learned from my dad, with alterations - a little soy sauce added - here soy sauce gets added to most everything) . I take banana bread, without soy sauce.

Time for a trip back to Ohio. (Actually, we've lived in other countries too - just feeling the nostalgia now).

Gloria Bauer Ishida

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