Within walking distance of my old house is a beautiful old church, its members part of our community since before its official founding in 1867.
The church stands stately just a couple of blocks up the hill from the Mossy Creek Historic District we’re working so hard to revive.
Unlike some churches of longstanding, this church makes intentional efforts to be welcoming… even if all that’s needed is a quiet place to sit and reflect or pray.
But a few weeks ago—in the middle of cold, snowy weather—neighbors around the church received their invitation.
Their invitation to the table.
Every family living within a mile radius of the church was invited. Would they come?
The first week involved snow shoveling, but they came. I was so proud of this church—my church—for not canceling. Weather doesn’t change the fact that neighbors need to experience community.
Last night was the third Church Street Cafe’, and Renaissance Man and I have been blessed to attend every one so far. We live in this neighborhood, so we’re there both as neighbors and helping-hands church members.
I’m happy to say people are accepting our invitation to the table. It’s a beautiful sight to see them walking up… Walking to church on a Tuesday evening.
Church Street Cafe’
A place to sit and eat a home-cooked meal. A come-and-go place to meet neighbors—or catch up with family. A place where someone cares enough to cook, and set a friendly table, and offer a place of respite in the middle of the week.
A place where too-oft-self-focused disciples are transformed into waiters and bus boys and good listeners.
Who has accepted the invitation?
This is the part I love the most! A wide variety of neighbors are beginning to gather around the table… making new friends and sharing stories.
Young couples—alone or with little ones.
Single parents; one a mother with three daughters working a full-time job at night who just this month graduated from nursing school.
A truck driver forced into early retirement in the ’90s now caring for an 80-year-old neighbor whose son recently died.
Grandparents bringing grandchildren—and great-grandchildren. Baby sitter or surrogate parent? I don’t know.
An assistant football coach at the neighborhood university and his young family—bringing a 12-year-old boy from the neighborhood who needs the positive influence and example of a godly man.
And—irony of ironies—a pair of 18-year-old young men miles away from their Utah home… Mormon missionaries who said, “Someone knocked on our apartment door and asked us to come.”
Compassion is turning strangers into community. We’re seeing glimpses of the Kingdom of God…