A decade ago, ten people gathered in an apartment in lower Manhattan, shared a meal, and worshipped together for the first time. Those ten souls grew into a community called St. Lydia’s. Ever since that first meeting, we have cooked, prayed, and sung together each and every week.
The last year and a half has been a season of expectation for the congregation of St. Lydia’s. After the departure of founding pastor Emily Scott, and with the guidance of a wonderful interim pastor, Bob Wollenburg, congregants continued to gather together over dinners and song. They waited and listened for God to reveal the path forward.
On December 2nd, St. Lydia’s took the first step down that path. That day, the church celebrated its 10th anniversary, and installed me as pastor! I am so excited to lead this congregation into its second decade, and I invite you to support our ministry as we deepen and expand the work we do in our church community, our neighborhood, our city, and beyond.
St. Lydia’s is a church where all are welcome. Every week, we come together to encounter God in bread, water, and the fruit of the vine. We hear the good news of God’s love and forgiveness, which sets us free to be servants to our neighbors, and to share a message of hope that is desperately needed in this troubled world.
We have big ideas for how to share that message with those around us in the coming year:
We will expand Waffle Church (our Sunday morning worship service for families and children) from monthly to weekly.
We plan to strengthen our partnership with the Gowanus Houses Arts Collective, a program that empowers young people living in public housing in our neighborhood through artistic expression.
We are renovating our garden into a beautiful and accessible place where the congregation and community can gather for worship, rest, and celebration.
As we plan for the future, we need your help. We are raising $40,000 before the end of the year to strengthen the ministry of St. Lydia’s, so we can touch the lives of more people and share the Gospel in unique, creative ways.
Thank you for being a part of the community of St. Lydia’s. We are so grateful for your prayers and support, and we invite you to worship with us whenever you find yourself in our neighborhood. Our doors are always open.
Stop by. Share a meal. Build relationships. Receive God’s grace.
Following a unanimous congregational vote this weekend, we are DELIGHTED to announce that St. Lydia’s will be calling Elsa Marty to be our Pastor!
Elsa is originally from Minnesota. She is finishing her PhD in Theology through the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her dissertation is about Indian Christianity and contextual theology, and she has spent several years in India working with tribal Christians. She is passionate about a theology of grace and Christ’s love as the foundation for social justice and the healing of the world. She and her partner, Matt Veligdan, love the outdoors, making music with friends, and dollar pizza.
We are so excited for all that Elsa brings to St. Lydia’s, and for this new season that is beginning.
Call Sunday – Meet St. Lydia’s Pastoral Candidate
On Sunday October 7, at 4pm there will be a special Dinner Church Service with St. Lydia’s Pastoral Candidate. The congregation will have the opportunity to meet and get to know the Candidate and her partner, and to hear her preach during Dinner Church.
After the service the Congregation will vote on whether to confirm the candidate as St. Lydia’s next Pastor!
This is an important and exciting day for St. Lydia’s! All are welcome. Spread the word.
*Please note: There will be NO Dinner Church on Monday October 8!*
Save the date for the NYC rally and march against family separation at the border. There are several rallies happening throughout the city with talk of some merging. Join St. Lydia’s Resists Hate! for information about where and when to meet. The march will be led by children and their families – parents are encouraged to attend with their children.
A service that lifts up children’s leadership and participation and invites everyone to get a little messy along the way. Waffle Church is made of songs, stories, construction paper, maple syrup, and the love of Jesus.
The service includes singing, a bible story, craft, and of course, waffles, and lasts about an hour.
Waffle Church takes place every Second Sunday of the month.
The season of Lent is a time to turn down the noise and listen to God’s voice. We have heard: “me, too.” When these stories travel towards the cross of Christ’s death and resurrection, what is revealed?
Over the six weeks of Lent, the women of St. Lydia’s will trouble the waters of #MeToo and the church’s paltry response, dismantle patriarchy, reclaim women in the Bible, rupture male-female binaries, and bring Jesus’s voice back into the conversation.
This Lent the discussion on power, love, and Christian witness is more important than ever. You are very welcome here.
If you can’t be at St. Lydia’s in person, you can read all the sermons in this series on our blog.
The season of Lent begins with AshWednesday, remembering that we are dust and will return to dust. St. Lydia’s will observe AshWednesday with a simple service of singing, readings, and the imposition of ashes (tracing the sign of the cross on ashes on the forehead) on February 14.
Through Advent, we waited for God’s in-breaking. Now, we celebrate in joy that Christ has come to live among us.
St. Lydia’s will celebrate a joyful, informal Christmas Eve service at 5:00 on December 24.
There will be caroling, an impromptu pageant, and celebratory food and drink! Little ones (and big ones too!) are invited to bring their own angel wings, sheep or shepherd costumes, or use the ones we provide.
All are welcome!
Please note: there will be no services on Monday, December 25 or Sunday, December 31. Dinner Church returns on Monday January 1, 2018 at 7pm.
December 24, 2017
304 Bond Street, Brooklyn
Advent is a season of waiting. For our congregants, Advent is even more poignant than usual this year, as we step into the future of this ministry, full of hope and expectation for all that God has in store in our first pastoral transition.
St. Lydia’s Call Committee is working with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Metropolitan New York Synod to find our next full-time pastor. As we move through this call process, we are committed to continuing our work: to resist hate, fear, and discrimination in all its forms, to grow as a place where all are welcome, and to reflect the love of Christ in all we do.
Our goal is to raise $40,000 by the end of 2017 to enable us to call our next full-time pastor. We are delighted to announce that we have received a year-end gift of $10,000 from a congregant to kick off this campaign!
Any gift you give will help us fund a new full-time pastor. Recurring gifts make it possible for us to better predict and manage our accounts and expenses. Please donate today.
St. Lydia’s is a progressive, Queer-affirming congregation in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. We work together to dispel isolation, reconnect neighbors, and subvert the status quo. Worship takes place around a meal that we cook together. We explore scripture, sing, tell stories, and pray together. We seek a pastor who is able to connect with the traditions we have established while helping us innovate and grow.
You can learn more about us on our website, and read about us in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and Sojourners (linked in comments below). For more information about the position, go to http://www.elca.org/Call-Process/Current-Openings and search for “Lydia.”
To express interest, contact Margy Schmitt Ajer, Assistant to the Bishop for Congregations at the ELCA MNYS, at email@example.com.
We’re very excited to take this next step. Please spread the word!
Peace and blessings,
St. Lydia’s Call Committee
Hannah Soldner – chair, Ula Barrack, Betsy Cannon, Burke Gerstenschlager, Angela Morris, Elizabeth Nelson, Drew Peterson Roach, and Phil Fox Rose
Open Studios runs from 12-6 pm on Saturday October 21 and Sunday October 22.
St. Lydia’s will be exhibiting Art from the Gowanus Houses Art Collective. Located in the Gowanus Houses, GHAC connects local teens with the arts and local artists. Stop by to listen to the voices of this neighborhood at 304 Bond Street near Union.
This summer St. Lydia’s said goodbye to our wonderful founding pastor, Emily Scott, and welcomed our new interim pastor, Bob Wollenburg.
During this season of transition, our community continues to thrive. Each week we gather at the table – breaking bread and sharing our stories. This is a time of both opportunity and challenge for our young congregation.
Thanks to donor and congregant generosity, we have raised over $10,000 for the Sturdy Table campaign this summer.
Our goal is to raise $20,000 by the end of September.
We’re inviting you to make a two-year pledge to St. Lydia’s, for the 2017 and 2018 year. Please donate today, and write us at firstname.lastname@example.org to inform us of your two-year commitment.
Spend an afternoon honing your song leading skills with Paul Vasile. First-timers welcome! Bring new or well-loved songs that you’d like to practice; receive gracious and supportive feedback from the group.
Free and open to all.
And you’re welcome to stay for Dinner Church at St. Lydia’s that evening. (Arrive between 5:30-6pm; service begins at 6pm).
Songleading Workshop with Paul Vasile:
Sunday May 28 2:30-4:30pm
St. Lydia’s – 304 Bond St. Brooklyn, NY
St. Lydia’s is wheelchair accessible – we just need a couple minutes to set up the ramp.
This is the week we enact the central story of the Christian faith. These are challenging stories that invite us to re-pattern our lives. All people of all ages are invited to participate in the rich stories and symbols of this week. Parents: do what’s needed to make these services work for you and your child. Kids can come to later services in PJ’s, and you can leave early if needed.
We need your help (from people of all ages!) for set up and clean up! If you’d like to help out, email Julia!
Palm Sunday and Monday Dinner Church
with palms, procession, and footwashing
Sunday April 9, 6pm; Monday April 10, 7pm
304 Bond Street, Brooklyn Once a year we do what Jesus did and kneel to wash one another’s feet. Remember to wear socks, not tights
with song, story, stations
Friday April 14, 7pm
304 Bond Street, Brooklyn
A solemn, service with music and silence, as well as movement and exploration of the themes of the day. A short portion of this service will take place outside; please dress warmly
with fire, water, and feasting
Saturday, April 15, 8pm
Old First Reformed Fellowship Hall: 729 Carroll Street near 7th Ave
A bold celebration of our new life in Christ. You are invited to bring a potted daffodil to decorate the space. This service will begin outside; please dress warmly
*Please note: there will be no Dinner Church on Sunday, April 16 or Monday April 17 . The Easter Vigil is our church for that week!
When he was at the table with them, he took bread,
blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.
Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him…
I am writing to share news with you today that marks a new season in the life of St. Lydia’s. Over the past months, I have been feeling a tug at my heart. It is a tug that I know well: it is God telling me that something is changing, and I am being led in a new direction. After much prayer and discernment, I know that it is time for me to step down from my role as Pastor of St. Lydia’s.
This is a hopeful moment because you, the congregation of St. Lydia’s, are ready to fly. You’re ready to step out into the future that God is calling you toward, discovering more about who you are as a congregation, how you are called to be a place of hope and healing in the world, and who is called to lead you forward in this next, shimmering stage of life.
It’s also a sad moment, because we love one another. Over the past eight years, you have taught me to be a pastor and a preacher. I have been privileged to serve as a shepherd to this community, and I have loved each of you deeply. We’ve made a community together, sitting around the table, sharing the stories of how that mysterious presence we call God does mysterious things in our lives. Those tables are where I learned to tell my own stories, and I was privileged to be asked to hold yours. You are my heart. I will carry you with me wherever I go.
The good news is that we are a people of the resurrection. Each week we tell a story of a God whose life is buried inside death. We trust that in every loss we encounter new life is waiting, ready to spring up.
A Path Forward
There are many questions that I’m sure you have about how things will unfold as St. Lydia’s moves into this next stage. I will depart from St. Lydia’s at the beginning of May. The Leadership Table and I have been working in relationship with the Metropolitan New York Synod (our local denominational body) to create a transition plan. This will involve an “Interim Pastor,” who will come to shepherd the congregation during this time of change. The interim’s job is to help the congregation learn from this in-between time, explore your congregational identity, and navigate the call process for the person who will be your next Pastor!
There will be a lot of change and some uncertainty. However, St. Lydia’s is a strong congregation. Our practices are deeply rooted and our identity is well-formed. As we often sing at St. Lydia’s, “what we need is here.” You have all you need to continue to be a congregation of love and welcome.
Next Steps for You
So what’s next? How do take in this news as a community? Here’s what you can do:
–Come to Church this Sunday or Monday. We’ll be together, and after church we’ll stick around, drink some wine, and just have a chance to chat.
-The Leadership Table will be hosting several Community Chats that will give you a chance to speak with them about this change and share your hopes and concerns. Chats will take place Tuesday, March 7 and Wednesday March 14 at 7:30pm at Building on Bond, and Saturday, March 18 at 2:00pm at St. Lydia’s.
-Save the date for a Community Meeting on Saturday, March 25 from 1-3pm, which will give us an opportunity to talk together about the changes St. Lydia’s is negotiating.
–Keep showing up. Transitions are hard on congregations. Things are changing! Your presence at worship, welcoming new-comers, serving in roles, and just being part of things means more than you might realize. It’s your steadiness, commitment, and consistency that will be the basis for a strong transition for the congregation.
–Remember we’re all human. My departure will mean different things to different people. It might bring up some other losses you’ve experienced, or you might be disappointed or angry. All these feelings are part of this process, and I am experiencing this loss as well. Let’s offer each other grace and forgiveness as we navigate these waters.
What’s Next for Me!
I do not have another position waiting for me after I depart from St. Lydia’s. I am feeling called to spend some time resting and reflecting on the eight-year adventure we’ve been on together. I also have an opportunity to work on a writing project, so I’ll be digging in to some quiet time outside New York City to dedicate myself to that work. A big part of my discernment process is asking how I’m called to be a voice and witness during this moment in our nation’s history. I would like to continue to be involved in community organizing and justice work, and continue to share the story of the God who invites us across borders and boundaries, into relationship with one another, and toward justice-making.
The context isn’t quite clear yet, but I’m sitting with the questions, knowing there is much in store. As my friend Ana said once, “leap and the net will appear.”
Though there will be much to grieve during this time, there is also so much to celebrate. Throughout the founding of St. Lydia’s, we have worked together to ensure this is a congregation that can thrive after the departure of its founder. This, your first pastoral transition as a congregation, will be a unique process. It speaks to our congregation’s maturity and capacity to grow beyond what anyone could have dreamed that first night we gathered for Dinner Church in a friend’s apartment. God has so much in store for St. Lydia’s.
Over the next four years, the progressive Church will need to be scrappy, tenacious, and impossible to get rid of. Like a weed pushing up through the cracks in the sidewalk, we will need to find insistent ways to thrive, rooting ourselves in love when hate has become all too commonplace.
The fact that St. Lydia’s exists is more important now than ever. Our nation needs churches who will be beacons in the coming years. We need to show people what following Jesus looks like. We need places that will welcome extravagantly, lay a table for everyone, work intentionally to connect people across boundaries, and actively resist hate, fear, and discrimination in all its forms.
This work takes place every day at St. Lydia’s, and it only happens with your participation.
Our goal is to raise $20,000 by the end of 2016to allow us to be a place of justice-making every day.
As of December 29, we have raised $21,090, passing our goal and headed for our stretch goal of $27,000!
We hope you will consider a year end gift of $50, $100, or $500.
Together, we are holding fast to what is good. Thank you for being a part of this work.
December 31, 2016
What Can I Do? First Steps for Resisting Hate
In the wake of our presidential election, it’s urgent that every one of us steps up and plays a part in resisting hate-based rhetoric, practices, and policies. It can feel overwhelming to try and figure out how to get involved. So…
…here are some simple steps and suggestions for how to get started, based in my participation in the #GetOrganizedBK in Brooklyn led by Council Member Brad Lander. It’s early days, and we’ll be learning more about what organizing will look like, but this is a good place to start!
We believe that every person is made in the image of God.
As such, we believe that every person deserves freedom, dignity, and human rights and that we are called to act in solidarity with those whose lives and rights come under attack.
After our nation’s election, we stand in opposition to discriminatory and hate-based ideals, policies, and practices that claim that any humans are lesser-than based on the color of their skin, their religion, their nationality, or their gender or sexual identity.
We will stand for justice together and work together in love.
Come to St. Lydia’s to chat, connect, pray, or just be in the company of others.
304 Bond Street will be open from 8am to 7pm. Lunch will be served at 1pm. Please come be together, use our wifi, chat with the pastor, and pray for our nation. Staff will be on call to talk and pray with you.
At 8:30 pm we will pray evening prayer. Please come and be in this space of quiet and consolation.
November 9, 2016
304 Bond Street
Annual Report, 2015
We’re pleased to share with you St. Lydia’s 2015 Annual Report. Take a look at all we’ve accomplished together this year.
The page may take a moment to load.
June 30, 2016
Join St. Lydia’s at the LGBTQ Pride March
St. Lydia’s will be marching in the 4th Section, near the front of the March!
Here are the details:
Lineup location: 41st Street between Madison and Park.
Estimated step off time: 12:30 p.m.
Please arrive at 11:30 a.m. (once we step off, getting to our group will be super challenging).
We are SECTION 5, GROUP 9.
Also note: if you come from the west, walk along 42nd Street and enter 41st from Madison. Fifth Ave will be closed to cross traffic, including pedestrian traffic, starting at 11:00 a.m.
June 26, 2016
Vespers: Song Space Silence
We gather to grieve with LGBTQ kindred, to make our lament, and to pray for the strength and perseverance to be agents of change and to reject hate of all kinds, living in love.
This month’s Vespers service will feature musician Tica Douglas. We will sing Psalms, sit in silence, and remember all those who died in the hate-rooted attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Come and worship at St. Lydia’s Vespers service, led by members of St. Lydia’s community! There will be singing, silence, scripture, and thoughtful reflection. This short contemplative service is just under an hour.
We invite you to offer a $10 suggested donation to support the musicians and the work of St. Lydia’s.
Want to increase your productivity and refine your communication skills? Want to up your EQ? Want to get better at time management? In the midst of busy days and busier brains, taking time to recharge your inner battery improves all areas of your life. We’ll begin with a vinyasa yoga class (beginners welcome!) to engage our body, connect with breath, and quiet the mind. The second hour will focus on gathering tips and tools for taking better care of yourself every day.
Amy Wolfe is a New York City-based yoga teacher, passionate about sharing the joys of yoga with her fellow New Yorkers. Born and raised in Mexico City, Amy first started practicing yoga (often in Spanish) at the age of fifteen. Many years later, after having moved to New York for law school, Amy deepened her own practice and enrolled in a Yoga Alliance-registered 200-Hour Teacher Training Program. Ever learning, Amy has since done further training programs and cultivates her own knowledge through everyday practice, both on and off the mat (i.e. in formal classes and through practicing yoga throughout the day).
Daisy Robinson is a Balancer based in Venice, California who specializes in life coaching professionals by having them look at their whole life from personal to professional, friendships to finances to see what’s working and create success strategies to improve the rest. By mixing Eastern philosophies with Western real life application and employing strategies and exercises from both NLP and ICF accredited trainings, Daisy is able to help you transform your life. Daisy believes everyone deserves and is capable of achieving emotional fulfillment. By learning to live in the wonderment of every moment you can move from suffering to celebrating and to reignite your spark for life.
St. Lydia’s grieves with LGBTQ kindred in the wake of the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
As Christians, we follow a God of love, not a God of hate, and are called to live in ways of love in the world, rejecting homophobia, islamophobia, racism, and hatred of all kinds.
We are called to be agents of change in the world, protecting those who are vulnerable and working to create a nation in which all people might live in safety and security, freely living out their God-given identities.