Dear Open Table Community and Supporters of this Emerging Ministry,
I cannot express to you how much I have enjoyed journeying with all of you over the past three and a half years. So much has happened in that time complete with mountains, valleys, and a whole lot of swirling rivers. In a location as transient as Cambridge, we have witnessed our community grow, shift, and change throughout our time together, and it has been a time of wonder. I could not be more grateful for the time we have had together.
Four years ago Rev. Megan Snell and I began to vision what a progressive, participatory service might include for people who seek to be nourished mind, body, and spirit. When we decided on a dinner church model we soon enlisted the help of late Food Minister Rebecca Roberts who brought a gentle vibrancy to the ministry. After great success in my living room, we responded to community needs and added Queer Dinner Church for LGBTQ folx. In the fall of 2016 we did a full launch and moved into our space at Harvard-Epworth UMC.
Starting a new church is the most fun, and the most difficult, and the most amazing adventure I have experienced. An opportunity to co-create community each week is thrilling and inspiring. Together we have learned, shaped, and reshaped our ministry to best fit the needs of those who gather. We have learned from many participants that Open Table was the first religious community where they felt safe to be themselves, where people felt both challenged and nourished in fulfilling ways.
With great sadness, one year after our full launch, Food Minister Rebecca passed away quite suddenly and our community grappled with the loss of such a beloved part of our team. Rebecca did not leave us without help in the kitchen, and was sure we connected with her dear friend, Kitchen Witch Lauryn Vosburgh. Lauryn brought to Open Table an extensive knowledge of the plants we eat, teaching us each week about the way the foods nourished our bodies.
Our second year also included the addition of intern Nancy Whichmann who brought deep biblical knowledge and a love of ritual to our services. During this time, our joyful Christmas gathering of “Snacks, Games, and Jesus” gave way to monthly Snacktivities where we explore a different spiritual practice each month. Led by Rev. Mel, a community member, or local practitioner, Snacktivities gives us an opportunity to explore our spirituality in different ways. At the end of our second year Rev. Megan took a discernment sabbatical and ultimately decided to accept a settled pastoral position at nearby Nahant Village UCC.
For the past year we have continued to gather three times a month for Dinner Church, Queer Dinner Church, and Snacktivities, and I feel truly honored for the time we have had together. I also could not be more grateful for the leadership of our Doer-of-All-The-Things!, Deaconess Kristin, our wonderfully gifted song leader Tess, and our many community volunteers for brining your whole and holy selves each week. We also extend our gratitude to Harvard-Epworth UMC for giving us space to grow and to the HEUMC community members who have grown with us. You all have made this the most amazing journey.
As most of you are aware, Kitchen Witch Lauryn is also my beloved (yes, I DO get to eat her food all the time!), and this means that major life transitions often impact both of us. Lauryn’s journey to become a naturopathic doctor, and my evolving call to ministry and spiritual direction is calling us to the state of Washington where she can learn more about bodies and I can learn more about trees and the divine.
As her fall class begins this month, August was Lauryn’s final month serving as Kitchen Witch for Open Table. I am tremendously grateful for her meals, her nutrition information, and her creation of Open Table’s cookbook. Open Table has been my call and my passion for almost four years and I have deeply enjoyed our time together. As Lauryn and I plan for our move, Open Table has been in a bit of a limbo place as we all wait to discover exactly when a cross-country move will take place. This waiting period has sufficed for a time, and ultimately is not what is most stable or grounding for the community, or for myself. Though I will miss this community greatly, it is time for me to say my farewells to Open Table Dinner Church and this beloved community. I will continue as Pastor (and cook) for an additional three months before departing. Together we will share two more dinner church services, one more snacktivity, and a possible queer dinner church service as decided by our LGBTQ members.
As an emerging ministry, Open Table has not been in a position to provide much financial compensation (full financial information available upon request) and we therefore are unable to hire someone(s) into the position of pastor or culinary extraordinaire. After conversations with community members and partners, we have decided that Open Table will close its doors with the departing leadership. I will be working with regular attendees to be sure each participant has an alternative community with which they may begin to build community in the absence of Open Table. While Open Table is as individual as the people who attend, and no community is quite like it, Boston is a pretty great place to build community, and there are churches and ministries to fit many spiritual needs. If I have not already reached out to you, and you would like help finding a new spiritual home, please email me at email@example.com
Our final meetings (second Tuesdays, open to all)
September 10th: Dinner Church
October 8th: Snacktivity (TBA)
November 12th: Dinner Church
Queer Dinner Church TBD
We would love to have you at the table as we prepare to say our farewells. Thank you, each and every one of you, for your support during our ministry. I will miss you all dearly, and keep you close at heart.
“This was church. This was some real church,” someone admonished at the end of the meal. It was a meal shared in a cozy living room outside Boston where a small group of folks gathered to explore how we might do church that is grounded in connection and storytelling.
During that first dinner together we agreed that we should continue to meet for meals that nourish mind, body, and spirit.
Led by Rev. Mel and Rev. Megan, we began meeting once a month. Early in our exploration of how to craft services, Food Minister Rebecca joined the team. Bringing life to the church, Rebecca lovingly prepared the meals that nourished and sustained.
At Open Table we invite you to bring your whole self, just exactly as you are. Together we explore what it means to do and be church in a changing world.
The events of this changing world led us to create a second monthly service when members of the LGBTQ+ community felt the jolt of tragedy amidst annual Pride celebrations. In June 2016 the Orlando Massacre shook the queer community and folks quickly sought a place of safety and refuge. We gathered together for the first Queer Dinner Church that month and continue to have a monthly service for LGBTQ+ folks.
We were excited in the Fall of 2016 when we moved into the Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church where we could build a bigger table.
That table was rocked in July 2017 when Open Table Food Minister Rebecca passed away unexpectedly. Rebecca shared herself both in and out of the kitchen, and touched the lives of all she met. At Open Table we work to carry her light and honor her in all that we do.
Her light drew in folks with kind hearts and warm spirits. A beloved friend of Rebecca’s helped spread that light when she continued the ministry that Rebecca began. Lauryn joined the team as the Kitchen Witch in the Fall of 2017 and brings with her the magic of the earth. Her depth of knowledge is shared with the community as each meal provides a lesson in how the foods heal and nourish our bodies.
Sometimes the food we share comes in the form of snacks. In December 2017 we began a monthly Snacktivity. Each month we offer (hearty) snacks and an adventure of some kind. The activities range from games, to education, to spiritual practice exploration, to creative arts.
Each ministry has its own flair, but all are sure to nourish mind, body, and spirit