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I attended a symposium in Strafford, Vermont on August 16 and 17. Strafford has the oldest meeting house in Vermont where Town meetings are still held. A big, festive yellow and white tent was erected on the town green where the meals were served and where we listened to meal time speakers and watched children dance. We were invited to use our own cups for drinks, compost, and wash our own dishes.

The link between markets, economics, ecology, justice and connectedness were major points discussed and contemplated. Since this was a symposium specifically for faith communities my thoughts turned to the integrity of our gatherings as faith communities.

Could coffee hour become an example of our commitment to economic justice, eco-justice, radical hospitality and stewardship of our own bodies and health?

Coffee hour should first and foremost offer foods that are healthy, low in refined sugar, and as much as possible utilize fair trade coffee, chocolate, bananas and local foods.   I emphasize local and or organic foods. Coffee hour could be an educational hour and an important part of our ministry to children, too many of whom are obese or in danger of becoming so.

Second, coffee hour could be an opportunity for a community meal in which those in need in the community are invited to participate. A gift of healthy recipes or even healthy but less well known foods could be offered to those who attend, e.g. a cup of quinoa or couscous.

Last, no more Styrofoam, composting, is the norm, if reusable dish and table ware are not used then compostable or recyclable material could be used.

Coffee hour need not just be coffee hour any more. It can and needs to be an act of faith.

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