St. Andrew’s in St. J. Serves up a Full Meal
“Is it time for us to have a full Dinner Church, when we all cook together as well as eat and worship?” That was the question that St. Andrew’s congregation in St. Johnsbury set out to answer on the first Sunday of Advent.
A smaller-sized congregation that has experimented with various liturgical innovations for a few years, St. Andrew’s has experience with an Epiphany Brunch Church, an Annual Meeting Brunch Church, and an Ordination Dinner Church. But all these were done with the cooking “in advance” or as potluck, not as the community coming together to prepare the meal. Was it time to take that next step in offering a fuller experience of Dinner Church?
With the encouragement of the Worship Team, the congregation decided to follow the example of the people of St. Lydia’s in New York. An organizing group did the planning in advance for what was needed, and on Sunday late afternoon, the congregation gathered for fellowship, meal preparation, table setting, Advent wreath creation, and celebration of a table Eucharist. Nearly three hours were filled with conversation, chopping and cooking, eating, and worshiping around the tables.
“I loved the worship!” exclaimed member Nicole Sevens. “The music with just voices and having the time to talk about the readings through the meal made it all so special.” The Rev. Jean MacDonald, rector, said, “We learned some things too. The meal preparation was a bit too lengthy, but it also gave us time to visit with each other. It was a beautiful expression of worship which we are not afraid to improve upon and try again – perhaps seasonally.” St. Andrew’s is also exploring how to offer the Dinner Church experience of community and liturgy to those beyond the congregation. “Is it time for us to have a full Dinner Church? YES!”