Lovely Ladies at Tea: First Baptist of Palm Beach Gardens

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Author Jane Austen hints of afternoon tea as early as 1804 in one of her unfinished novels. Carol Linden, wife of Pastor David Linden, who pastors First Baptist Church of Palm Beach Gardens, goes far beyond hinting and has perfected the art of the tea party.

The practice of sitting for tea has been around since the Victorian ages. It is believed that gathering for tea in the afternoon became an event around the late 1830’s. Full of pomp and circumstance, grace, charm and style, tea parties take sitting for tea to an art form.

Lavish furnishings, exquisite china tea sets along with lovely, fancy dresses, hats and accessories that the ladies and men who attend wear, progressed the tea party into an important place for revealing one’s impeccable style and making social connections.

Pastor David and Carol Linden

Carol, originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has brought the art of the tea party to the Northern Palm Beaches, and she’s filled it with love. Lots of love. Carol has been hosting tea parties locally for the last 15 years in her own home, as well as hosting larger parties at the church fellowship hall on Alternate A1A in Palm Beach Gardens. Carol’s passion is to create a day for the ladies who attend: to be inspired, to live carefree in the moment,  to enjoy lovely delicacies and to have an opportunity to dress up in their tea party finery.

It’s a big heart of love that Carol offers when she prepares her parties. She started her special events 40 years ago. Carol became a beautician, after attending beauty school after graduation – and she absolutely loved it! During that time she attended a tea party at the Ritz Carlton, and she said, “You know what? I can do that!” And she did. And she’s been doing it ever since. 

Carol is an expert at the timing of all the components of a proper tea party. Brew the tea 6 to 7 minutes, no more, and of course you must slice the cucumbers just before serving the sandwiches and not beforehand. And everything must be homemade. Many other details to creating a lavish tea party go on behind the scenes, and Carol orchestrates with love, grace and expertise. 

Fellowship Hall at First Baptist Church of Palm Beach Gardens

Recently, on a beautiful Thursday afternoon in May, the doors were opened, tea was brewing, the tables were set just so – with Carol’s collection of fine china (she has 80-90 sets) and beautiful collections of dolls and hats were displayed, along with antique letters and parasols from her mother’s collection. In it all, memories and moments and experiences that had weaved themselves into Carol Lindon’s life and filled her heart with a special joy. She wanted to pass on the joy and beauty and especially the love in her heart to bring that joy and love to others.

L-R: Kelly Jo Rabbitt, Reta Chisolm, and Nancy Roberts

Husband David works tirelessly along side her when it’s time to prepare for another special event. After the date is set and invitations sent out, there are boxes to be retrieved, bone china to be unpacked and carefully carted from one location to the other. There are decorations to put up, shopping to do, and many details to put in order. Of course, there are numerous volunteers that gather to help with the vast amount of work to be done. All, a labor of love.

Carol is always dressed in a fine, lovely gentlewomen style, and her most beautiful accessory is her smile. With a gentle spirit, Carol is the ultimate hostess that tends to each table while simultaneously tending to the kitchen dynamics. Everything must be “just so”.

At her May event, laughter and a lively spirit permeated the room. All the ladies were dressed in their finery of  hats, ribbons, colorful dresses and lace. Each one as lovely and unique as the petals on the flowers that adorned the tables. 

In all these details, Carol Linden provides the food, the beautiful bone china (she has 80-90 sets, most of which were gifts) and volunteers donate hours of time and hard work. I counted eight different courses from tea to the cucumber sandwiches all the way through the delicate desserts.

Lovely ladies at tea.

The heart of Carol doesn’t stop there. Her tea party also hosts a boutique of fine clothing and home accessories that are donated items. Tea goers may purchase these items and the funds go to support the church’s long term mission in helping the local homeless. A dedicated ministry for years at First Baptist of Palm Beach Gardens, every first Saturday at the church, a yard sale is held, consisting of donations from all over the Northern Palm Beach County area. From 8-noon, Pastor David heads up the event as more long time, dedicated volunteers rise extra early and begin at 6AM to the set up for the sale. Prices are deeply discounted and  the funds go to the Church in the Park at Kelsey Park in Lake Park and to surrounding homeless and persons in need. Hygiene kits, food, other needed items and day to day support and job connections are offered. This, along with a kind ear and prayer. Long term relationships are formed, and stories of life transformations are real. It’s tough work, and it’s tedious but it’s done with love. 

Carol shared about her wonderful tea party experiences with her sister, Linda. As adults, up north, they’ve built many memories and gained much experience creating tea parties full of love. As she has carried that to the Palm Beaches the last fifteen years, her legacy abides.

Carol’s daughter, Lori, in Texas has also developed herself into a consummate tea party hostess. Carol had a wonderful mentor in her mother, “My mother brought me up in a Christian heritage. She always helped people and helped the ‘down’ people.” And her daughter has a wonderful mentor in Carol. The legacy of the tea party, and love, continues.

Kelly Jo Rabbitt
Kelly Jo Rabbitt
Kelly is a spirit filled speaker, author and missionary. Having graduated from a Biblically based supernatural training school serving as class president, she also holds a Master's in Divinity and has represented the U.S. as an Ambassador to Europe for Rotary International. Kelly has experienced profound transformation by the Spirit of God in desperate places in her own life, and serves Christ across all denominational lines. She has ministered in Haiti to members of the United Nations and has served Eastern Kentucky's Appalachia region's most destitute. Due to her Catholic upbringing, she holds a deep reverence for the Eucharist. Kelly has a passion for wellness and has been certified nationally with honors in personal training and nutrition from World Fitness Association since 2012. Her first priority, however, is the spiritual condition of a person. Kelly was born in Rocky River, Ohio, has lived in Erie, PA., and New Orleans, LA as a child, and has been a resident of south Florida for four decades. Her favorite hobby is spending time in nature. She also enjoys ministering in worship dance, and her most important spiritual discipline is getting the Word inside her spirit.

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