Extravagance UCC celebrates Palm Sunday with virtual Dinner Church
The Extravagance United Church of Christ team has found yet another way to make church available to all through the use of technology. On Palm Sunday, the online faith community will host Dinner Church, a gathering of food, music and prayer that will be livestreamed from Atlanta. People across the country are encouraged to tune in, gathering their friends and family for the virtual event that puts Sunday dinner in a whole new light.
“Dinner Church is one way to gather people across time zones and in various settings to worship together and to share a meal,” said the Rev. Jo Hudson, Extravagance UCC’s gathering pastor. “As one of our online participants cleverly stated, ‘What, we’re having a virtual potluck?’ Our answer is, ‘Yes!'”
Kimberly Knight, minister of digital communities, and the Rev. Nicole Havelka, minister of digital programs, will gather family and friends at Knight’s house in Atlanta at 6 p.m. EST (5 p.m. CST/4 p.m. MST/3 p.m. PST) on Sunday, March 29, for a meal, worship and community. The group will be joined online by the Rev. Thomas Hathaway and the youth of North Prospect Union UCC in Medford, Mass., and members of The Outdoor Church, North Prospect Union’s church for homeless men and women in Cambridge, Mass. Dinner Church will include readings, songs and opportunities for table discussions, as well as a worship liturgy that reflects on the Last Supper as described in the Gospel of Mark.
“I will be serving with Nicole to open my home, set the table and invite guests, both local and afar, to share in a time of worship,” Knight said. “I will also be wrangling technology in such a way that I hope our guests forget about the gadgets and enjoy the fellowship and spirit of the evening.”
Those interested in participating should let the Extravagance UCC team know they’re hosting an event by emailing Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Extravagance UCC website for the Dinner Church outline and resources, the link to the livestreaming site, and more information for how to host the gathering. For those who can’t make the Palm Sunday event, Hudson says Dinner Church will continue for other special worship days like Pentecost, World Communion, Advent, and Epiphany. But the Extravagance team encourages groups to host Dinner Church anytime by utilizing the available resources. After all, this flexibility of time and space, and this new idea of what church can be, is what Extravagance UCC is all about.
“For too long we have been caught in the idea that church only happens within four walls of a physical building,” said Havelka. “Using technology and inviting gatherings of people in their homes reaches beyond those physical confines and offers people a comfortable space in which to try out church after a time away or even for the first time.”
Through events like Dinner Church, the Extravagance UCC team is hoping to accomplish several things. By bringing church into people’s homes, they hope to reach those who might not feel comfortable coming to a church building. The team also hopes to develop small Extravagance “communities” in geographic areas where there may not be a UCC church or a progressive Christian church, and they also want to show established churches the different ways technology can be used to expand beyond the walls of the church and reach people who, for one reason or another, do not have a physical church to call home.
“It is evident that there are major shifts taking place in the Christian Church all over the world, and some of that is due to the vast changes in technology,” Hudson said. “A virtual faith community, connecting people across time zones, allows us to reach all of those people and more.”
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