Super Senior: Jo Biathrow

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KILLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) You know you've made it to Killington if you pass this landmark. Duel signs out front, "Our Lady of the Mountains" and the "Sherburne United Church Of Christ." Most people know it as the little white church. It's unique. Both Catholics and Protestants worship here. There's a cross and a crucifix. Two services: the Catholics Saturday and the Protestants Sunday. They share the expenses. Upstairs, they are breaking bread in the spiritual sense, downstairs, they'll satisfy their stomachs.

"They like our home cooking, so they keep coming back and they ask for the little white church," Jo Biathrow said.

Jo and her husband, Henry, have spearheaded the dinners since the beginning. Busloads of leaf peepers will be here tonight to get a traditional New England meal.

"Have to have Vermont maple syrup!" Jo said.

Tonight, it's pork, starch and slaw, topped off with apple pie and Vermont cheddar cheese, of course.

Reporter Joe Carroll: How important is this dinner for the church?
Jo Biathrow: Very important, it keeps us going.

It's a fun time but it's serious business. They raise about 40 percent of the church's budget through the dinners. Jo hopes to clear $7,000 this year. It's much-needed income for the UCC congregation. They are struggling with just 12 members. During ski season, the Catholics pack the pews.

Joe Carroll: And how many dinners this season?
Jo Biathrow: This season we will do nine.
Joe Carroll: Is that enough?
Jo Biathrow: Ah, we all are pretty tired at the end of that.

Tonight it will be a bit of a homecoming for Jo. The 45 people coming for dinner are mostly from her home state of Indiana. That's where Henry and Jo met at a dance while Henry was in the Army.

Joe Carroll: Was it love at first sight?
Jo Biathrow: I don't think so!
Henry Biathrow: It took a lot of dancing to get things going.

They married and moved to Vermont. Both took jobs at a new venture in the area, Killington Ski Area. Henry groomed the trails and Jo commuted by lift to work at a restaurant on top of the mountain. Now, the couple, who are in their 80s, focus on the dinners.

Jo Biathrow: They decided we were retired, so we can do the cooking.
Joe Carroll: You have to listen, huh?
Henry Biathrow: (Shakes his head.)
Jo Biathrow: Yeah!

Precisely at 6 p.m., the bus arrives.

"They come very hungry," Jo said.

But first, comes grace. Then it's supper time.

Henry and Jo don't work alone. Church members from both denominations pass out the food and cider.

Joe Carroll: So how's it going so far?
Jo Biathrow: Everything is going good, running smooth.

"And our chief cook and helper... Jo and Henry Biathrow!" the announcer told the crowd to cheers.

Helping to save a church one meal at a time.

"We loved it, awesome, awesome," a diner said. "It's a good thing you do."