The above video was produced for St. Lydia's by the Brooklyn-based production company StoryKeep. StoryKeep records peoples' life stories and creates meaningful video content for organizations and businesses.


You’re looking for an experience of the holy.

One that is strong enough to lean on, deep enough to question, and challenging enough to change you. If you’re not sure what you believe, rest assured that neither are we. We place practice before belief, trusting that eating, praying and singing together moves us deeper into faith. Instead of trying to figure out what we believe, we’re trying to live what we practice.

St. Lydia’s is a church that gathers to share a sacred meal, as the first followers of Jesus did. Simple unaccompanied music is sung, scripture explored, and prayers offered, all in the context of a home-cooked meal.



Rev. Dr. Christian Scharen, Pastor

Christian is the pastor at St. Lydia’s Dinner Church in Brooklyn, New York. A practical theologian, he was ordained a pastor in the ELCA in 2001. He holds the PhD in religion from Emory University and has written or edited more that a dozen books and many articles, book chapters, and research reports on religious organizations, religion and culture, social justice, and theological education. His early work on theological ethnography helped spark an international movement bringing together sociology and theology in the study of the church. He recently completed a volume on the Roots (of Tonight Show fame) and hip-hop as a prophetic art form, and is working on a decolonial theological memoir about his family, the Ingalls of The Little House on the Prairie series. He enjoys cooking, poetry, and music, especially learning to play on his grandfather’s 1910 Washburn bowl back mandolin. He has two adult children, Isaiah and Finn, and a bulldog named Walt.

Debbie Holloway, Community Coordinator

Debbie Holloway has been a congregant at St. Lydia's since 2015. She is a musician, writer, film critic, food-lover, gardener and theatre-lover living in Bushwick, Brooklyn. In addition to her work as community coordinator, Debbie also manages space rentals and building use at St. Lydia's, and does work with the Neighborhood Preservation Center, Music that Makes Community, Narrative Muse, and Morbid Instinct Productions.

Hallie Stotler, Waffle Church Minister

Hallie Stotler is a music educator, conductor, contralto soloist, and singer-songwriter in NYC. A native New Yorker, Hallie grew up the daughter of a professional folk singer, and can often be found playing fiddle, guitar, and mandolin at folk music venues in the tri-state area. Hallie is a strong proponent of singing as a vehicle for individual and community empowerment. She holds a B.A. in Music from Vassar College and and a M.A. in Music Education from Hunter College.

Leadership Table

St. Lydia’s is guided by a Leadership Table which, directed by the Holy Spirit, reads the spiritual compass of the community, measures the bearings of all that has come before, and takes soundings of what lies beneath. Currently, our Table Leaders are:

  • Angela Morris
  • Amelia Schonbek
  • Billy McEntee, Chair –
  • Pavi Jaisankar, Secretary
  • Brad Watson, Treasurer
  • Sarah Confessore
  • Deborah Chi
  • Burke Gerstenschläger

Write the Leadership Table: