Cathy Gallus participates in “keeping the faith” at New Life Community Church by sipping tea each month with thousands of women of all ages.
Over the last eight years, nearly 9,000 ladies from Miami to Fort Myers have made the trip to Marco Island with one thing in mind: to participate in what’s quickly becoming a legendary afternoon — “high tea” with the girls at New Life Community Church.
Gallus, the director of New Life’s “The Corner Cottage,” held the first tea party at her home in 1998 after receiving what she refers to as a “vision from the Lord.”
“There were about three or four of us that really wanted to do something, we wanted to reach out to the community through friendship and networking to spread the message of the love of God,” she said. “We didn’t want to do what was already out there, so we prayed about it for a long time. One day, we were on Fifth Avenue shopping and I said to my friend, ‘Do you think there’s a place we could look for teapots here?’ And so we went in an antique shop and sure enough, there were some beautiful teapots in there. That started the quest. I had a stirring that this was from the Lord and that maybe we should have a tea party.”
Since then, what started with 24 guests at Gallus’ home has turned into an all out RSVP-to-get-a-seat, 250 person event, held free of charge at Marco Island Presbyterian Church fellowship hall each month.
“We filled up my house. It was wonderful. I knew immediately that it was not going to be something just for the ladies at our church. It was going to be an outreach for anyone who wanted to come,” Gallus explained. “And it would be free so anyone who wanted to come, could come. It’s ‘high tea,’ which is an English term, understood as an afternoon light lunch with tea, so we have little sandwiches and fruits. We pay for everything through donations.”
Natural and easy as it all may seem, Kathy Gallus’ past never included tea parties. In fact, life as a child in Minnesota was anything but a party. Born into a dysfunctional family of alcoholism and abuse, Gallus married an alcoholic herself.
“We never drank tea. Minnesota’s drink coffee. Never had a tea cup in my life,” Gallus said. “About six years into my marriage I was saved. God touched my heart and turned my life around on Oct. 20, 1974. But when you have so much baggage in your life emotionally, it doesn’t just go away. My boss took me to a Christian therapist where I was forced to face my life. It’s all for the better if you move forward and get healthy emotionally. It took me years.”
After a divorce and healthy remarriage, Gallus and her second husband, David, started a real estate company together, in an attempt to provide for a combined family of eight. Business was soon blessed but led Gallus into a new venture with even more significance and meaning. She was about to become, “the tea lady.”
“I really wanted to do something with this new way of thinking, but making a small business successful in America? It takes everything. And raising six kids? It was crazy. As we got to Marco, somebody offered to buy our company. I wanted to sell, so I could be in full time ministry. My husband decided to hire help. And since then, I’ve been in ministry full time, it’s my greatest passion,” she confided. “I was a business woman for so many years. All of this is a new chapter in my life. They introduce me as the ‘tea lady’ now! Where it came from I have no idea.”
For more information on upcoming tea times or “topic teas,” which help women deal with issues such as anger management, depression, eating disorders and more, call 389-0815.
To nominate someone from your church for “Keeping the Faith,” e-mail both of your names and a short summary describing that person to: email@example.com.