My dear friends and family,
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;
I’ve just returned from a wonderful weekend retreat away in a quiet town on the Hudson with my church St. Lydia’s. We’ve been reading and learning from Romans 12:1-20 where Paul exhorts his church to live in this world and love it, even when it is hard.
Love one another in mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
St. Lydia’s has been my church home and spiritual community since I moved to New York in May 2012. I must admit I’ve had a tentative relationship with this community: They just seemed too nice to be trusted; too easily pleased, too quick to laugh, too willing to help. It didn’t make sense to me in the context of cold, hard New York City.
Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.
St. Lydia’s is organized around “dinner church”, i.e. church that is done over dinner. Sharing a meal is one of the fundamental tenets of St. Lydia’s, along with telling stories of our experiences and working together. Each time we gather, we cook the food, set the tables, sit and eat over food an dialogue, pray, and then do the dishes and clean up – all together as a community. It’s pretty simple – and pretty beautiful, actually.
Well, I guess after two years, countless meals, working, praying, and laughing together, they’ve slowly won me over. This weekend I found myself resting into this community, letting go of my cynicism and distrust and embracing the genuine love I observed and experienced in every interaction.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
St. Lydia’s is a small but rapidly growing community. We are musicians, journalists, and engineers. We work in the tech industry, study in seminary, and teach yoga. We are children, adults, and seniors. For the past 3 years, we’ve been meeting is the Brooklyn Zen Center, where we sub-let space 2 nights per week for dinner church – but now our little church has outgrown the Zen Center and needs a space of its own.
Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
So we’ve taken on the challenge of renting a new space, where we can live and work and share in a meal together any day of the week. The new space is in Gowanus, a neighborhood better known for it’s superfund status than small church start-ups. It is also home to a wide variety of Brooklyn residents and businesses, representing a diverse slice of Brooklyn. Our hope is that our new home will give us the opportunity to participate in the diverse and changing ecology of Gowanus, supporting that community as it gentrifies and encounters issues around justice, race, class, commerce, and culture.
All that to say… we need help to get there. Between navigating the New York real estate market and start-up costs of outfitting a space to call our own, we need to raise some serious funds. For more information on the nuts and bolts (and pots and pans), check out the video at our Room at the Table fundraising page.
While I’m always reticent to ask for money for anything (no really, this is hard for me), I think and hope you’ll consider helping St. Lydia’s out for the following reasons:
- This place and these people are my spiritual family in New York and I could use your support.
- St. Lydia’s is a new kind of church that meets people where they are at over the simple act of feeding them.
- Our new home will give Lydians space and scope to genuinely love on this cold, hard, diverse, beautiful, ever-changing city.
And even if you are not in a place to give money, I am grateful and honored that you have chosen to read this long, rambling message to the end. It has been an opportunity to write about something important to me, which I rarely have the time or energy for these days.
Do no be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
It is a simple message – I just pray for the strength to live it.
God’s peace and blessings to you all,
Link to Room at the Table campaign page: http://www.stlydias.org/ratcampaign.php