Share the Meal
At Dinner Church, worship takes place at the table around a big, delicious meal that we cook together. Communion is made as we share food and ourselves by exploring scripture, singing, and praying together.
Tell the Story
Telling Our Story: Jesus told a lot of stories, and so do we. We tell the story of Christ’s dying and rising, and through it, uncover the daily dyings and risings that comprise our lives.
When you arrive at St. Lydia’s, you’ll be put straight to work preparing dinner or setting the table. Working together unites us as a community and brings us closer to God.
Every Sunday Night, arrive between 5:30 and 6:00
Every Monday Night, arrive between 6:30 and 7:00
What’s Dinner Church like?
Welcome to Dinner Church!
Here’s what our church looks like from the outside.
After being welcomed, you’ll get a nametag to wear.
Some folks are in the kitchen cooking.
Some are rehearsing music for the service.
You’ll be invited to help set the tables or help in the kitchen.
When dinner is ready, we gather to sing a simple song and light candles.
The we light all the candles on the dinner tables...
…and lift our hands to sing the Eucharistic Prayer, an ancient prayer of thanksgiving.
The bread is blessed by our presider...
…and passed from hand to hand as we say to one another, “this is my body."
Then we all sit down to eat!
We share the meal.
Then read scripture together…
And hear and tell stories as part of a shared sermon.
Then we pray together.
We clean up together...
...and do all the dishes.
Then we gather around the Christ candle to sing a final hymn, give our offerings, and receive a blessing.
And then we go home.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 a 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, keep reading!
Should I bring anything?
There's no need to bring anything, though if you feel inspired to pick up dessert or a 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. We do not serve alcohol at our meals, 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 5:30 and 6:00 pm on Sundays and 6:30 and 7:00 pm on Mondays. Worship concludes around 8:00 pm on Sundays and 9:00 pm on Mondays.
How many people usually come?
Lately, there are 20-30 people. We try to keep the experience intimate.
Are children welcome at Dinner Church?
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 8:00 on Sundays and 9:00 on Mondays) but you’re welcome to slip out before the service is entirely over if you need to. We also have Waffle Church on the second Sunday of each month at 11am, which is geared toward children’s leadership and participation.
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.
We do not drink wine as a part of our meal. Grape juice and water are offered instead.
What should I wear?
Whatever you would like! Congregants tend to dress casually.
Is St. Lydia’s wheelchair accessible?
We have a portable ramp for wheelchairs to ascend the small step to enter the building. The bathroom is fully accessible.
I’m visiting with a group or from out of town to learn about St. Lydia’s.
St. Lydia's is a small and growing congregation, and as we've grown, we've been glad to welcome and get to know folks who come from around the country to worship with us. However, as the number of visitors has increased, we've needed to be mindful of the impact this has on the congregation. St. Lydia’s is an intimate experience of worship. It takes place in a small space with a group of about 30 people. While we are glad for the interest that church leaders around the country have expressed in our congregation, we need to balance the needs of our congregation with those of visiting groups.In order to accommodate these needs, we ask three things of our visitors from out of town:
Sign Up In Advance
We limit the number of out of town visitors we can accommodate to four per service. Please click through to the sheet below to make sure there is space on the night you’d like to visit, and if there is, to sign up.
Give an Offering of $50 or More Per Person
It takes a lot of dough to run a Dinner Church! Our operating budget includes money for rent, salaries, supplies, and of course, the food that we put on the table twice a week. Congregants who attend each week and donors from all across the country are an integral part of keeping our doors open and the lights on at St. Lydia's.
We ask that you help build St. Lydia’s by offering your support. Please click below to give $50 or more in advance of your visit. Your gift will go to the St. Lydia’s garden, which we are currently renovating to create a beautiful outdoor space!give your
Invite your Group to Read These Tips
Here are a few ways to make your pilgrimage to St. Lydia’s a rich experience for you and for our congregation.
Be a participant in worship, rather than an observer.
We're here to make worship together, and so are you! When you arrive at St. Lydia's, you'll be invited to help create our liturgy, by cooking in the kitchen or setting the table. Jump in! You're part of what we're doing together.
Engage in conversation during worship, saving your questions for after the service.
Our congregants come to St. Lydia's to experience the Divine. Some of them come every week, others are coming for the very first time, perhaps with some fear or trepidation about attending church. They're there to build relationships. When you're a curious visitor, it can be tempting to pepper congregants with questions. However, this can make us feel like we're being interviewed when we're just trying to worship. Please save your questions about St. Lydia's and the way we worship until after the service. Emily willbe more than glad to speak with you after she’s finished saying goodbye to congregants.
At the dinner table, we invite you to simply engage those around you about normal old things. "Where are you from?" "How long have you lived in New York?" and "What were you up to this week?" are all great conversation starters.
Do some reading in advance.
There are a number of resources available that can help you learn about St. Lydia's in advance of your visit. This article in Faith and Leadership describes how we got started, and this interview with Emily may be helpful to you. We also recommend this longer radio interview on Spiritually Speaking, in which Emily describes the process of St. Lydia's getting off the ground.
If you're interested in how we plan our worship, you can look at our script. Our blog is also a treasure trove of information. "Squeezebox" is a section where we post all the music we sing in worship. There are blog posts about our practice of singing here, here and here. If you're interested in our governance system, check out our Rule of Life.
We’re glad you’re here, and are looking forward to getting to know you and being known, too. Thank you for visiting, and thank you for your support!
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.”