About the Author
Christine Purcell
UUA Southern Region Congregational Life team specialist in communications, media technology, and ministerial transitions.

Dinner Church

When people ask what my plans are for my ministry, I tell them that my dream is to start a dinner church. There’s usually a short pause before they ask, “Dinner church? What’s that?” The answer is pretty straightforward: dinner church is when a community gathers in an intentional worship space that incorporates dinner. It’s dinner, and it’s church.

My first encounter with dinner church was St. Lydia’s, a Lutheran dinner church Brooklyn. I took a weekend trip to New York with a friend of mine to visit. We helped cook dinner, set up, and participated in a beautiful worship service—singing, prayer, food, reading, a sermon, all bookended by sharing the bread and grape juice of the communion ritual. It was the first time I had immediately felt like I belonged in a room full of strangers, and it filled my love of sacred space and my love of sharing food with others at the same time. I was hooked. A friend who had recently graduated from Harvard Divinity School moved to Grafton, MA to plant Simple Church, a Methodist dinner church, and invited me to be the ministerial intern. I’ve spent Thursdays this year baking bread to sell at the farmer’s market, cooking soup, and helping facilitate our weekly dinner church services.

All the dinner churches I’ve come across, whether standalone or part of a larger insitituion, have one thing in common: they are all Christian and incorporate the celebration of communion into the service. As I went to more and more dinner church services, as I continued to move forward in the UU ordination process, I started to wonder what a non-Christian dinner church would be like. Communion has been part of every dinner church service I’ve been to—but does it have to be? Is there a way to craft a dinner church service that is still sacred and full ofmeaning, but that doesn’t include communion?

Through my MDiv thesis, I’ve been able to explore these questions in depth. My thesis ends with a model for a dinner church that is not built around communion, but rather centered in other rituals of community building. I’ve drawn various aspects from dinner church services, UU worship, and other sacred spaces to create a dinner church that feels deeply spiritual and full of meaning. Everyone is invited to come early to help cook and set up, and we clean up together as part of the service. There is singing, sharing, readings, and discussion. I’ve been lucky enough to get to pilot my dinner church at First Parish UU in Arlington, where I am a member—we’re calling it “sacred supper.” I’ve gotten to take my thoughts about dinner church out of my head and off the page to facilitate it with and for others—and this has only made me more sure that facilitating dinner church will be part of my ministry career.

Dinner church is a deeply communal form of worship, one that allows people to interact with one another in a fairly casual and yet deeply sacred setting. Beyond starting my own dinner church, my dream is to see dinner churches spread far and wide, including within our movement. And maybe brunch church, too.




Aisha Ansano will graduate from Harvard Divinity School with her MDiv in May. She is a candidate for UU ministry and will serve next year as a ministerial intern at First Church in Boston. Aisha considers food to be her ministry, including but not limited to dinner church!



Faithify Reaches $500,000!

This week, FAITHIFY, the Unitarian Universalist crowdfunding site, passed the $500,000 pledged mark. In plain speak that means that over 5,000 people pledged their gifts of over half a million dollars to campaigns created by everyday UUs. Each of our funders demonstrated their love for Unitarian Universalism in one of its myriad manifestations on faithify.org.

They love the soulful music or worship of their local congregation.

They love the gift that Unitarian Universalism is to the life of a young person they know.

They love the hands and hearts determined to shape our world into a place with more love and less hate.

This is #FAITHIFYLove.


faithifylove1Each of the over 130 campaigns that have run on FAITHIFY represents a labor of love. To start a crowdfunding campaign you need to articulate your unique response to the question: How am I called to live our faith? You need to risk sharing your vision for faithful living with the wider movement and invite others to support you on that journey.

This is #FAITHIFYLove.


#FAITHIFYLove inspires UUs to act on their dreams!

#FAITHIFYLove unites strangers in our movement together!

#FAITHIFYLove invests in our faith at the grassroots!


What is the power of #FAITHIFYLove?

  • faithifylove2#FAITHIFYLove is 83 funders making it possible for 15,000 people to register to vote in North Carolina.
  • #FAITHIFYLove turned $710 into over a 100 #BlackLivesMatter lawn signs to be prophetically displayed outsides homes in Hartford, Connecticut.
  • #FAITHIFYLove is the 31 campaigns that did not meet their goals, but kept on going.
  • #FAITHIFYLove is 159 people responding to a call for solidarity from our indigenous partners from Lummi Nation and funding an anti-extraction Totem Pole Journey.
  • #FAITHIFYLove is an individual Unitarian Universalist hearing of a congregation suffering and coming to their aid, the only connection between them our shared faith.
  • #FAITHIFYLove is the power of what happens when we come together, risk together, pool our money and talents together. It is the power of saying “Yes!” to our dreams. It is the power of a movement that has our back.


To celebrate this milestone FAITHIFY is launching the #FAITHIFYLove contest. We want you to share on social media stories and pictures that showcase what #FAITHIFYLove truly is. Enter and you could win a $50 FAITHIFY gift card.


Spread the #FAITHIFYLove



Sean Neil-Barron is the project manager of FAITHIFY, who loves the crowd so much he is contemplating spending an entire day crowdsourcing his every movement.


Growing in Spirit

One of the most exciting areas of growth I’ve seen in our tradition has been in spirituality. When I first became involved with Unitarian Universalism in the mid-90s, spirituality was a somewhat unfamiliar concept to many of the people in our congregations. But toward the end of the twentieth century, more and more resources became available to help familiarize UUs with the idea spiritual growth.

One book in particular was enormously influential for me and many others: Everyday Spiritual Practice: Simple Pathways for Enriching Your Life, edited by Scott W. Alexander and published by Skinner House Books. It’s still in print today and is available online at inSpirit: the UU book and gift shop.

In its pages, you’ll find a wide variety of approaches to spirituality, which is only fitting given our tradition’s long appreciation of the many spiritual paths offered by the world’s religions. What really interests me, though, is that a number of the essays in the book were written by UU ministers who are also trained spiritual directors.

Two of those authors, Erik Walker Wikstrom and Christine Robinson, have gone on to create a number of resources that have helped move personal and communal spiritual growth into the forefront of our movement.

One of my favorite resources from Rev. Wikstrom is Spirit in Practice, a ten-session Tapestry of Faith Program for adults which “was created to help Unitarian Universalists develop regular disciplines, or practices, of the spirit—practices that help them connect with the sacred ground of their being, however they understand it.” And as with most Tapestry of Faith resources, it’s available free and online!

Rev. Robinson and her co-author Alicia Hawkins have “reimagined…small group ministry” by developing a small group format which “offers readings, journaling suggestions, and thought-provoking exercises to help participants prepare for the spiritual practice of sharing in community.”

There are three books in this Deeper Connection Series, each with fourteen gatherings: Heart to Heart, Soul to Soul, and Listening Hearts. All three are available from inSpirit.

Back in the nineties, it was sometimes difficult to explain to people who had never explored their spirituality just what that might entail. Now with resources like Spirit in Practice and the Deeper Connection Series, our congregations can be places were everyone—newcomer and longtime members alike—can experience spiritual growth together.


Phil Lund

Religious educator, minister, spiritual director, and wannabe geek dad, Phillip Lund is a congregational life consultant with the MidAmerica Region of the UUA and co-creator of the Clergy Seminar Series in Congregation-Based Spiritual Direction.