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Launching “Room at the Table!”


Dear Lydians,


The church is made of people; it’s made of all of you.  The church is made of people, but the people, it turns out, often need a place.  A place to gather to sing and pray and worship.  A place to devote themselves to those “marks of the church” we read about in Acts 2:42,  “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”


It is time for us to find a home for our church: a place where we can gather each week to be the church together.  Where we can teach and learn and be together, where we can break bread and pray, and through doing these things, bring healing and justice, day by day, to the world.


The Room at the Table Campaign

Over the last few months our congregation, our Leadership Table, and I have been putting a plan in place to find and move to a storefront location where our community can take up full time residency.  It will be a place for us to break bread and pray together: to gather for Dinner Church, holding services three or four times a week for groups of about 35 each.  It will be a place for us to teach and learn and be together as the Bible Study and Theology Group and Movie Club continue to grow and new ideas emerge from the congregation.  And it will be a place of healing and justice, as we continue to listen to the neighborhood and city around us, asking God what we are called to do to build relationships with our neighbors.


A Invitation for Everyone

In order to achieve this goal, I’m inviting our congregation and our supporters to work together to raise $100,000 over the next year as a part of a campaign we’re calling the “Room at the Table Campaign.”  My hope is that our congregation will raise $10,000 of that $100,000 goal.  Over the next weeks and months, I invite you to spend some time with God contemplating what financial commitment you might offer to this campaign over the next two years, over and above your current pledge.  Then fill out this giving sheet (which will also be available at worship) and put in in the offering plate.  The congregant campaign will take place through September, at which point we’ll begin to invite donors to contribute.


I’ll start us off by sharing my own offering (pastors should never ask people to do what they themselves are not at least learning to do!).  Over the next two years, I will be contributing $1,000 of my income toward the Room at the Table Campaign, over and above my regular pledge.


Your Giving Makes Movement

$100,000 can seem like an overwhelming number, and your offering might seem to be a small piece of that big goal.  But I have found that generosity begets generosity, and your offering can encourage the giving of a donor.  Throughout this campaign, various interest groups at St. Lydia’s (Bible Study, Movie Club, Theology Circle, etc) will pool their offerings, then make a video to send to a prospective donor.  The message communicated will be, “We’re giving, and we’d like to invite you to give too!”  In this way, we model generosity and invite others into the blessing of generous acts.  Jason and Mabel will be visiting with the various interest groups through August and September to tell you more and to assist you in the process.


A Gift from a Generous Donor To Encourage Us

I am overjoyed to announce that this campaign has caught the attention of a set of very generous donors: a dedicated couple who are moved by the vision St. Lydia’s is holding out, and have decided to give $30,000 to this campaign.  The couple will give their gift when we have successfully raised $50,000 so we have something to work toward!  I couldn’t be more grateful for the generosity of this couple, and the incredible faith they’ve put in this project.  Their gift will not only offer needed resources that we need to take on this project and will encourage the generosity of others.


Money is Crazy!

Money can flow like water, creating dynamic movement and change in the world.  It can build like bricks, giving us tangible things like food and shelter that we need.  It can imprison like bars, disconnecting us from our relationships with others and our relationship with God.  Jesus talks a lot about money in the Gospels.  He talks a lot about how money gets in the way of us seeing clearly.  Giving a portion of our money to God can be experienced as a blessing — a practice that releases us from ties to the world and allows us to live in more buoyant, unbounded ways.


Living in New York, however, it can feel like we are releasing money all the time!  We seem to hemorrhage money at every turn, with half or more of our income going to rent, and prices of everything inflating as we speak.  What does it mean to give or be generous when we might be struggling with student debt or credit card debt, or simply trying to live within our means?


Questions around finances and giving are real and good, and so I’d like to offer another invitation: to participate in a workshop on financial health from a spiritual perspective this Fall.  If you’re interested, please fill out this short survey so I can plan the details of the class.


In Closing

Look what we’re building together!  Look at all the people who are being invited into creating this ministry, this time around with real bricks and mortar, so that the people of the church might have a place to be church.  As we embark on this project, let’s keep those marks of the church as the foundation of all that we’re building together, devoting ourselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 





PS: if you’re one of those Lydians who participates from afar, you too are invited to share in this moment in our communal life!  Be in touch with Emily about making a gift to the Room at the over two years.  Or, you can make a gifts by clicking “donate,” and clicking “leave a message” and writing “Room at the Table.”

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