Dinner Church Movement Sets the Table for Food, Faith and Friendships

Emily McFarlan Miller | Religion News Service | Friday, August 30, 2019

CHICAGO (RNS) — On a near-perfect late summer evening, about a dozen people gathered on a picnic blanket in Chicago’s Palmer Square Park, spread between kids playing on playground equipment and young adults throwing a Frisbee disc on the lawn.

Accompanied by the crunch of joggers’ footsteps on the gravel path circling the narrow strip of green in the city’s trendy Logan Square neighborhood and the rumbling of a passing El train, one of the picnickers took a piece of pita bread and broke it in half.

“This is our body,” he said, passing it to the person sitting next to him. Each person repeated the gesture before digging into a spread of food from a nearby restaurant.

This gathering wasn’t just another group of friends soaking up the last days of summer outside.

It was church.

Root & Branch Church calls this service the Welcome Table. It’s part of a growing trend of dinner churches popping up across the country in churches in a number of denominations, conservative and progressive, urban and rural and everything in between.

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