The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'An unusual blend'

St. Lydia's: Where the table is set for hospitality & worship

White fabric is rolled out over folding tables and colorful pieces of cloth are draped on top. Mismatched napkins are folded; plates and silverware are set. Vases of simple flowers sit in the center.

The table is set; let worship begin.

It's 6:30 p.m. on a Sunday and the year-old community of St. Lydia's in New York's East Village gathers in the narthex of Trinity Lower East Side Lutheran Church, Manhattan. After humming and singing an a capella "Phos Hilaron" (O Gladsome Light), approximately 24 worshipers carry lit candles up the stairs to the sanctuary, where they sit at dinner tables each set for eight.

Emily Scott, 29, a Lutheran pastoral candidate who founded St. Lydia's in 2009, leads them in prayer. Clay Morris, a retired Episcopal priest and Scott's friend, sings an ancient eucharistic prayer over the bread. Lutheran pastors are also guest presiders, as St. Lydia's encompasses both Lutheran and Episcopal traditions.

Each diner breaks off a piece of bread and hands it to the right: "This is my body." They pour communion wine or sparkling cider from bottles on the table.

St. Lydia's is a dinner church, said Scott, who studied liturgy, along with the early church traditions of gathering around a meal, at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Conn.

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