Dinner Church? Is that a thing?
Well, now it is! "Dinner Church" is a phrase we've coined to describe what we do when we gather at St. Lydia's. Sharing a meal is an tradition from the earliest days of the church—one that we're reviving in our practice together.
I’d like to come! Should I just show up?
Yes, just show up! If you like you can write us and we'll be expecting you. If you're visiting with a group of more than five people, send us a note so we can plan for a larger meal.
Should I bring anything?
There's no need to bring anything, though if you feel inspired to pick up dessert or bunch of flowers, we will gladly receive them! Dessert takes place during the hubbub of cleanup, so cookies or treats that don't require plates or silverware work well. The Zen Center, where we worship, does not allow alcohol, so please refrain from bringing wine.
When should I arrive? How long is your worship?
We begin our worship by working together to prepare the meal. Arrive any time between 6:30 and 7:00 pm. Worship concludes around 9:00 pm. For more details, take a guided tour.
Where do you meet? Do you have your own building?
St. Lydia’s meets at the Brooklyn Zen Center, located in the Gowanus/Park Slope neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Our office is located in the same building, just down the hall at the Brooklyn Creative League.
How many people usually come?
Lately, our Sunday night service is generally between 30 and 35, while our Monday night service draws 12-20.
I am gay, bi, trans, straight, queer or something in between.
And we are glad! We are a progressive, gay-friendly and queer-affirming Church, and we hope that you will bring your whole self to worship.
Are children welcome in worship?
Absolutely! Children of all ages are more than welcome, and will be doted on and adored by the congregation. Dinner Church runs a little late for really little ones (we usually finish worship at 9:00) but you’re welcome to slip out before the service is entirely over if you need to. We have a developing program for children that takes place during the sermon and prayers, and there’s plenty of room in our service to wander, run, participate, and take part.
What does it mean that you're "progressive?"
It means that we approach the bible both spiritually and intellectually, we embrace sexuality and all sexual orientations, and we affirm the spiritual journeys of those of other faiths.
Are you Christian?
Yes. We're a group of people who tell the story of Christ's dying and rising, and through it, uncover the daily dyings and risings that comprise our lives.
I am not sure what I believe. Can I come?
Absolutely! You’ll be in good company. At St. Lydia’s, we place practice before belief. It’s the practice of eating, praying, and singing together that moves us deeper into faith. Instead of trying to figure out what we believe, we’re trying to live what we practice.
I have dietary restrictions. Will I be able to eat?
All of our meals are healthy and vegetarian (but not vegan). They are often gluten and lactose free, but not always. We usually have dessert at the end of worship during announcements. If you have allergies to particular foods or have other food-related concerns, please send us an e-mail and let us know. If you need to receive gluten free bread at the Eucharist, it’s helpful if you remind us when you arrive.
I don’t drink alcohol.
Because the Zen Center, where we worship, does not allow alcohol, we do not drink wine as a part of our meal. Grape juice and water are offered instead; at the end of the meal, we bless our cups of grape juice.
What should I wear?
Wear whatever you would like. Congregants tend to dress casually. The Zen Center, where we worship, asks that we remove our shoes upon entering the space.
Is St. Lydia's wheelchair accessible?
St. Lydia's is located on the second floor. Though there is an elevator in the building, there are seven steps leading up to the entrance. There is a ramp to enter the building, but we need advance notice to access it. Please write us for more information about accessibility, so we can come up with a plan together.
Why is your worship centered around a meal?
Worship at St. Lydia’s is based on the worship in the Early Church. In the second and third centuries, Christians gathered for sacred meals they called the Eucharist (a Greek word that means “thanksgiving”). Jesus and many of his first followers were Jewish, so the meals were related to Jewish Sabbath supper and Seder meals, and involved blessing bread and a cup. The meals shared by these early Christians were the great-great grandparent of our modern Eucharist, also called Communion or the Lord’s Supper.
Is this meal a Eucharist?
Yes. We bless our meal with the earliest known Eucharistic Prayer called the Didache, drawn from the second century. Our pastor, Emily Scott, chants the prayer. The congregation sings a response during the blessing, then shares the bread saying, “This is my body.”
Is St. Lydia’s an Emergent Church?
Probably! “Emergent Church” is a label that has been used to refer to Christians who are rethinking Christianity in the context of Postmodernism. St. Lydia’s fits into the Emergent Church movement, but also differs from many churches in the movement. Like many emergent churches, St. Lydia’s is structured to function more like a grassroots community than an institution or an organization. Many emergent churches look to ancient models of church to inform their worship; we have done the same.
Is St. Lydia’s affiliated with a Christian denomination?
St. Lydia’s is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We are also in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. Our Pastor, Emily Scott, is an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Are there other links I should check out?
Yes! St. Lydia’s has been influenced by the worship of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. All Saints Company, an organization that provides liturgical resources to the church, is one of our coconspirators. Much of the music we sing is found in the hymnal, "Music By Heart". We're grateful to both gaychurch.org and FaithStreet for helping folks find their way to us.
Can I see a copy of your liturgy?
Yes. You can look at an example of the “script” our deacons and song leaders use to lead worship.
I’m a pastor or priest who’s interested in what you’re doing. How can I find out more?
Who was St. Lydia?
St. Lydia appears in the book of Acts. She was a wealthy businesswoman who sold purple cloth. As the head of her household, she was a church leader who hosted the new church in Corinth, and is remembered for her hospitality:
The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.
How did St. Lydia's get started?
St. Lydia’s was founded by our Pastor, Emily Scott, in the fall of 2008 in collaboration with congregants, friends, mentors, and Community Coordinator Rachel Pollak. We met in the home of one of our congregants, then began to partner with a Lutheran congregation in the East Village, called Trinity Lower East Side. A year later, we brought Rachel on board as Community Coordinator, and began to worship every Sunday evening. In the summer of 2011, our congregation affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and developed a partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island to find our new home at the Brooklyn Zen Center.