Frequently Asked

I’d like to come! Should I just show up?

Yes, you can just show up at any of our worship services. If you like you can write us in advance and we’ll be ready to welcome you. If you're visiting with a group, keep reading!

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 gender identities, 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. We’re a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (a progressive Lutheran denomination) and have many ties to the Episcopal Church as well.

I’m 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 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 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.

Is St. Lydia's wheelchair accessible?

We have a portable ramp for small wheelchairs to ascend the step to enter the building. The bathroom is also accessible for a small wheelchair. Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate large/electric wheelchairs due to the step to enter the building and the width of our front door. If you are visiting and have questions about accessibility please email us and we will do everything we can to accommodate you.

Where do you meet? Do you have your own building?

We have our own storefront, located at 304 Bond Street in Brooklyn, where we hold worship.

Is St. Lydia’s affiliated with a Christian denomination?

Yes! St. Lydia’s is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

I'm visiting Dinner Church 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 15-20 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

Please email in advance and let us know when you would like to visit.

Give an Offering

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 a generous donation in advance of your visit.

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 worship together. 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 and learn about God. When you're a curious visitor, it can be tempting to pepper congregants with questions. However, this can make people feel like they're being interviewed when they're just trying to worship. Please save your questions about St. Lydia's and the way we worship until after the service. Pastor Elsa will be 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 in casual conversation. "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 may be helpful to you. We also recommend this longer radio interview on Spiritually Speaking, in which our founding pastor, Emily Scott, 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 and here. If you're interested in our governance system, check out our Rule of Life.

Enjoy yourself.

We’re glad you’re here, and are looking forward to getting to know you and worshipping with you. Thank you for visiting, and thank you for your support!

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.

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 Philippi, 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.

Acts 16:14–15

How did St. Lydia's get started?

St. Lydia’s was founded by Emily Scott in the fall of 2008 in collaboration with congregants, friends, mentors, and colleague Rachel Pollak Kroh. 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 our first 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.

We worshipped for over two years at the Brooklyn Zen Center, then raised funds to move to our own storefront at 304 Bond Street in Brooklyn. Here, we have built a strong relationship with our neighborhood and developed a voice for justice in our city. In 2017, our founding pastor left. Interim Pastor Bob Wollenburg led the congregation for a year and a half. Pastor Elsa Marty led from fall 2018 through fall 2019. Our current interim pastor is Christian Scharen.

To hear more about how St. Lydia’s got off the ground, listen to Emily Scott’s interview on Spiritually Speaking.