A seat at the table

By Megan Brandsrud It’s a Tuesday night. People are gathered in a

back room of a restaurant in downtown Tulsa, Okla. Amid the pouring of refills and clearing of plates, someone begins to lead a prayer. The gospel is shared and after everyone discusses this good news and what it means in their context, one by one they line up to receive communion. This is Servant’s Table, a dinner-style church that

meets in different restaurants every week in Tulsa ( The idea started with a core group of people who had a desire to make church be more about community and outward- focused ministries, while also being a safe place for those who haven’t worshiped in a while—or ever— to feel comfortable asking questions, expressing doubts and discovering what the concept of grace means together. Laura and Blaine Bunch were longtime members

of an ELCA congregation in Tulsa when they attended a “pub theology” meet-up their pastor organized. They soon realized how much they liked the simplicity of the gathering. “Getting back to the basics, stripping away

everything else and getting back to this discussion about God—we enjoyed it so much and decided that this was something we wanted to start on our own,” Laura Bunch said. Launched in March 2016, Servant’s Table is a

synodically authorized worshiping community whose mission can largely be wrapped up in its name. “One thing we really wanted to stress was the service aspect—we are servants,” Laura Bunch said. “We aren’t there to be served, but we are there to serve.

40 JUNE 2017 “And we meet at restaurants so we meet at

the table. We meet at a table, just like Jesus and his followers.” Phil Lucia, one of the core team leaders of

Servant’s Table, likes that meeting in restaurants makes the ministry more visible. “It creates a low barrier to entry for people,” he said. “It also allows us to go to different areas of the city and draw different people at different times.” By meeting in restaurants around the city and

forgoing its own building and the costs associated with it, this public-facing ministry is able to have a majority of its offerings go into the community to help those who need it most. They also organize a service project every month,

which has ranged from volunteering at a food bank to delivering Valentine’s Day treats to people in the community who worked on the holiday.

Being church Servant’s Table doesn’t have a called pastor, which was an intentional move when starting the ministry. Lay leaders take turns serving as weekly worship leaders and coordinating service projects, and different pastors from around Tulsa are invited to give the message and help lead discussion every week. “We get our theological foundation from the

wisdom of the pastors who come in,” Laura Bunch said. “That person changes every week and it’s lovely to hear different people and different ways for discussing God’s word. The rest of the things— organizing a service project or our next week’s

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