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Opting for Table service

Opting for Table service

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BRANDON – You’ve heard of drive-through church and lightning worship.

How about a service that harks back to the days when family and friends gathered around the table for prayer and conversation, along with praise of the Lord?

Contemporary band playing at The Table

The Table Band treats worshipers to a contemporary music service following a repast of food and fellowship on Wednesday evenings in Brandon. The combination works for families on the go. Photo from Pastor Ricc Conner. 

It’s becoming more common for pastors to experiment with informal worship services in a local eatery or watering hole, but Ricc Conner isn’t overlooking the opportunity to create a similar atmosphere right on the church campus.

For a year and a half, he has been pastor of The Table, a Wednesday night worship experience that gathers families together for a meal and catch-up time in the social hall of First UMC, Brandon.

After supper, the crowd strolls across a walkway to a meeting hall for a worship service that includes a contemporary praise band.

“A lot of people sit at little café tables at the back,” Conner said. “It has a café feel. … We bake cookies so when you walk in the room, you smell fresh cookies.”

The service has been drawing 75 to 100 people. Including kids, the last service of August drew 123, Conner reported. Youngsters have their own “Kids’ Table,” with a worship experience that’s typically video-driven, the pastor said.

Offering busy families a chance to combine a meal with midweek worship has given people who work Sundays or have other obligations a way to keep their spiritual connections healthy.

“It’s been neat because we see a lot of people who can’t come to church on Sunday morning anymore,” Conner said.

“The dinner has been really neat too,” he added. “It’s built a lot of community really fast.”

Click here to see a report on the ministry in the Tampa Bay Times.

– Susan Green is the Florida Conference managing editor.