Dinner Church, church gatherings centered around sharing a meal together, has been rising in prominence over the last few years. In these churches, the Eucharist is not a symbolic meal, but rather a full, literal meal and the time of worship is woven through the time of sharing food and conversation together.
Here is a dinner church reading guide — books that offer a look into the stories, theology, and practice of dinner church.
Emily M.D. Scott
Emily Scott never planned on becoming a pastor. But when she started a church for misfits that met over dinner in Brooklyn, she discovered an unlikely calling—and an antidote to modern loneliness.
As founding pastor of St. Lydia’s in Brooklyn, New York, where worship takes place over a meal, Emily M. D. Scott spent eight years ministering to a scrappy collective of people with different backgrounds, incomes, and levels of social skills. Each week they broke bread, sang hymns, made halting conversation with strangers, then did the dishes. In a city where everyone lives on top of each other yet everyone is lonely, these gatherings around a table offered connection and solace that soon would become their lifelines.
When Hurricane Sandy slams into the coast of New York, Scott and her church members are faced with a disorienting crisis. Startled by the impact of the storm on their more vulnerable neighbors, they learn to work alongside one another, bailing water out of basements and canvassing emptied apartment buildings. Every week, they return to those steady, strong tables at Dinner Church. Together, they find community, even in the midst of disaster. Scott discovers how small acts of connection hold more power than we realize in a time when our differences are being weaponized, and learns to create activism and justice work fueled by empathy and relationship.
With tenderness and humor, Scott weaves stories and reflections from the life of her unlikely congregation while articulating the value of church as a place where people can hear not only that they are loved but that they are good.
For All Who Hunger is a story about a God whose love has no limits and a faith that opens our eyes to the truth. There’s a place for you at the table.
Although this book does tell the story of St. Lydia’s, one of the first and most prominent of the contemporary dinner churches, in rich detail, it is primarily a memoir of its founding pastor, and as such, not all parts of the book may be of interest to those wanting to learn about dinner church.