Friday, July 24, 2009

a long table please

I came to Opawa Baptist in 2004 with some dreams. One was that the mission of God, as discerned in the local community, would over time change the church. This included a clear mental picture of a church in which the insides – the physical architecture – became different as people from the community found love and acceptance.

It’s now 2009. Last night was the end of term evaluation of the Gathering. The Gathering began in April, in response to people from the community needing a discipling space in our midst. It happens not at the church, but at our local community centre. Weekly, always with food, each week explores a Bible passage followed by a free flowing discussion.

Like anything new, it had no guarantees. But local people have gathered, feedback has been very positive and the “guiding” team remain energised. It’s one of the best things about Opawa this year, this gathering of local folk, previously not in church, in belonging and around the Bible. There’s such a deep joy in growing deep and strong relationships with our church neighbours.

A key feature at the local community centre is a long table. It’s where the Gathering has taken place. Everyone sits, so all are equal. It’s where food is served and the Bible is opened, where stories are told and real life mixes.

So in the course of the evening, one of the “guiding team”, a long term Opawa Baptist church member, turns to me. “When the building project is completed, I hope we have a long table at the church, just like we do for the Gathering at the local cottage.”

And my eyes sparkle! YES! Our/God’s mission, as discerned in the local community, is over time, changing the church – physically! It’s moments like this that make pastoral change processes worthwhile.

Updated: a wise friend took this one step further. He suggested that we build our own tables. Which started another spin of creative options – could the “long table” then be the church communion table? Could each congregation provide their own table for the new cafe space!

Posted by steve at 10:07 AM


  1. Have you read Letty Russell’s account in the introduction to “Church in the Round” about their temporary worship around the table when their sanctuary was being repaired, just for the summer, but then many wanted to keep it that way. A powerful metaphor for doing church differently, and she draws the implications for the life of church in mission as well.

    Comment by Anne Thomson — July 24, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

  2. thanks Anne. no i haven’t read it, although i have been reading John Koenig’s Soul Banquets. He talks about feeding people after 9/11 and eucharistic overtones.

    ta for headsup re “Church in the Round.”


    Comment by steve — July 24, 2009 @ 8:10 pm

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