The Gathering Table is a Synodically Authorized Worshiping Community housed in the building of a church abandoned by most of its members in a poor neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri. The Central States Synod of the ELCA owns the building and the Synod, partner congregations, and neighborhood agencies work together to do ministry in the neighborhood. Youth Works runs a summer-long VBS for the neighborhood children. Congregations and members of Gathering Table provide 60,000 meals a year to neighborhood people. Along with members of our daughter Katie's church, I helped prepare and serve one of those meals last Saturday. People at the Gathering Table? Poor old people came mostly one by one, some of whom had no teeth, some of whom walked with walkers. Some of the people came to help by cleaning the floors and tables. A tall man, thin as a rail, unshaven, unwashed, smiled, chatting away, because there were bunches of bananas to share that day. 60 people who are part of the Gathering Table Ministry worship there with Pastor Barbara on the weekends as do two other congregations: one of Mexican refugees and one of refugees from the Congo. Pastor Barbara breaks up the fights. A tag line on Gathering Table Facebook: You can't change the world by going to church only by being the church.
All the people serving together in the building are the being the church.