069c5e_52a87f7ff4714cf082623e2f2ecf290f-mv2What is the name of your site?

New Wine

Where are you located?

Here in Hartford, Connecticut, I am launching New Wine Dinner Church on Thursday, Oct. 26. I am so excited to be apart of this movement.

Who is a good contact person?

Rev. Michelle Hughes 860-761-7107

What are your web links including home page, Facebook page, blog site, etc. if you have them?

Do you have a denominational or local church sponsor?

I am UCC Clergy, but I am launching this as an independent venture right now

Do you have a particular demographic you are trying to reach?

Primarily 40-60+

How is your approach particularly different?

Since I am employed full-time, we will offer quarterly dinner gatherings, a bi-monthly pod-cast, and ministerial services to those with no church affiliation

In what ways are you trying to be the same or different from a typical congregation?

Location will not be in a church but in an innovative community space
We will not meet weekly, or on Sundays
Attire: informal
We will offer communion, and have a sermon

If you were to describe your important or unique characteristics, what would they be?

Our aim is to use this dinner church model while incorporating elements of African American culture

What or who has influenced/inspired your scheme? Any particular congregation, person, or book?

I am part of the UUA Entrepreneurial Ministry course, and this is my ministry project

Is there anything distinct about your meal?

Our meals will be simple: salad, and something that can be a one-pot meal
We will serve wine

Postings on Dinner Church Movement page

Dinner Church photo

If you came to our Dinner Church Movement late, you may not have the time or patience to go back over the last 11 months to see what has been posted. So let me give you, in effect, the Table of Contents.

I have listed them in three categories: 1. the Dinner Church sites, 2. the postings I have made, and, 3. articles that have seemed relevant to dinner churches. I have begun with the latest postings and worked my way back to October of last year. That means you can scroll through the ‘table of contents’ and when you find a posting you are particularly interested in, simply go back to the article by going back to the date it was posted on the Dinner Church Movement Facebook page.

I’ve just discovered that there are glitches to accessing my blog posts and I’ll be working to sort that out


  1. Dinner Church Sites      Location and date posted
      1. “Servant’s Table” Tulsa OK  8/31
      2. “After Hours” Denver CO     7/25
      3. “Cafe Church” Melbourne Aus  7/22
      4. “Pub Church”  Boston MA     7/20
      5. “Sacred Suppers”      7/18
      6. Reposting of “Simple Church”  6/21
      7. Kendall’s posting     6/13
      8. Dinner Church at University Lutheran, Philadelphia PA 4/26
      9. 3rd St Dinner Church Frenchtown NJ  4/20
      10. Wesley Foundation Boulder CO    4/7
      11. Lake Washington UMC Community Dinner  3/11
      12. Bethel Assembly of God, Bay Roberts, Newfoundland. 3/7
      13. Anabaptist Dinner Church Boston MA 2/10
      14. “Roots and Branches” Chicago IL  2/2
      15. Redeemer Central, Belfast No. Ireland   1/26
      16. Bellwood Faith Community (UMC) Portland OR  1/21
      17. First Presbyterian, Homewood IL  1/18
      18. “Neighbors Table” Dallas TX   1/15
      19. 3rd St Dinner Church Frenchtown NJ (repeat)  1/4
      20. Crossroads at UWSP WI/ and 2 others    12/18/2015
      21. Southside Abbey (repost)   11/18
      22. “Moveable Feast” Cincinnati OH  11/13
      23. (Southside Abbey first posting)   11/9
      24. “Community Dinners” Seattle WA  11/6
      25. “Church in a Diner” billboard   11/4
      26. “The Garden” Indianapolis IN    11/2
      27. Hope Chapel Johnstown NY  10/31
      28. “Simple Church”  Grafton MA   10/26
      29. St Lydias Dinner Church Brooklyn NY (5700 reach, 71 shares)  10/23
      30. “Draughts of Faith” Pacific Beach UMC  10/20
      31. “Church in a Diner”  Lansing MI    10/20  link
      32. The Table, Orange County CA    10/19
      33. “Haven @ Table  Sheffield U K
      34. Dinner Church First UCC, Santa Rosa CA   10/9
      35. (Church in a Diner video)   10/9
      36. (Sellwood Faith Community) Portland OR   10/9
      37. (Atlantic: St Lydia’s Dinner Church)   109
  1. My postings
      1. Questionnaire on D C   9/22
      2. Reading at the Bodleian “A Camera”  8/18
      3. Dr. Mike Graves selection from his book  6/27
      4. Call for a DCM core team   6/23
      5. Preview of Graves   6/22
      6. ‘Dinner at Pemberly” 4/25
      7. Six months update   4/5  Link
      8. Begun at Bodleian/Kath’s blog on Pliny 4/2  link
      9. “Feel the Yearn” millennials  3/30   link
      10. Update March 1Began DCM II  (144 members) 3/1
      11. Report of attending my conference meeting   2/2
      12. DCM: Our Mission  (7300 reach)   12/31/2015  Link
      13. Actual beginning of DCM II   12/29
      14. 2 Month’s report  12/7
      15. Review of “Subversive Meals”  11/24   link
      16. Six weeks summary (12 sites covered, 1600 reach)  11/16
      17. Reflections on background to Dinner Church  11/7  link
      18. 3 week summary   10/28
      19. “A New/Old Model for the church”    10/21  link
      20. Report on Net Prophets   10/17   link
      21. Bibliography on SBL’s Greco-Roman Meals study  10/16
      22. Introduction of self  10/10
  1. Relevant articles
      1. Atlantic: Sometimes getting to church… is hard   9/24
      2. Christian Century: on Church Planting  4/19
      3. Sojo Net: on Bonhoeffer   4.10
      4. Christian Century: on Food Waste  2/23
      5. Survey: “How We Gather” Millennials  (6300 reach) 2/3
      6. NPR: House Churches   11/17/2015
      7. Deseret News: “Grounded” a review of Diana Bass’ book  11/10
      8. Guardian: Young Americans becoming less religious   11/4
      9. NCR: Eucharistic home meals   10/28
      10. Image: Build a bigger table  (2000 reach, 30 shares)   10/27



Laura Mauzy Bunch of the Dinner Church site ‘Servants Table’ in Tulsa OK. says she is prepared to write up a piece, but asks me if I have any directions on what she should include. I decided that it was time to draw up a sample list of questions, not only for her, but for sites in general.

I’ve made a preliminary list. Now I would like to get some input from you. If you are part of a Dinner Church site, what questions have I left out that miss what you think is relevant information to have about your program?

And if you are someone interested in beginning a Dinner Church program, what would you want to know about other sites to be helpful to you in getting started?

What is the name of your site?

Who is a good contact person?

What are your web links including home page, Facebook page, blog site, etc. if you have them?

Do you have a denominational or local church sponsor?

Do you have a particular demographic you are trying to reach?

How is your approach particularly different?

In what ways are you trying to be the same or different from a typical congregation?

If you were to describe your important or unique characteristics, what would they be?

What or who has influenced/inspired your scheme? Any particular congregation, person, or book?

Anything distinct about your meal?

Is prep and cleanup included in the program for the attenders?

Anything distinct about your worship?

Is each one different or do you have a patterned liturgy? Where did it come from?

Do you celebrate the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper?

Is there a ‘sermon’, Bible reading, discussion, other? Who leads?

Do you have music/songs/hymns?

If you had a bulletin, what would a typical night schedule look like?

Have you a mission statement? If so, what is it?

Are you familiar with similarities to early Christian meetings and worship?

Do terms like ‘festive joy’, ‘subversive’, ‘inclusion’, ‘diversity’, ‘participatory’ make any sense in your dinner church pattern?

Are you familiar with any of these names: Dennis Smith, Richard Horsley, Hal Taussig, Warren Carter, Alan Streett?

A Camera that helps me see the past

As the purpose statement reads on the Dinner Church Movement page, I am working on two matters. One is exploring Christian Origins; the second is sharing contemporary Dinner Church sites. I work on the first while waiting for examples of the second to pop up.

Right now I’m not seeing too many new dinner church sites, so I’m spending my time researching the beginnings of the church- its gathering meal and its external setting, the Roman Empire.

That’s all right with me, as a major joy for me in retirement is being able to read and research. This is especially so for a couple reasons. The first is I don’t particularly find pleasure in batting a little ball on grass and among the trees. If my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome would allow it, I would enjoy simply walking on grass and wandering among the trees.

The second is that I like the idea of reading and research without someone looking over my shoulder and making an assessment of what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. No deadlines, no grades. Just the pleasure of reading and writing.

It doesn’t hurt that I have one of the world’s largest university libraries only a local bus ride away. Think of twelve million books. You send an email listing the books you want to read to the library staff, and when you show up, the books are waiting for you.There is one downside to it. You can’t check books out; you have to read them in the library.

It isn’t that they have something against me personally. During the English Civil War, Oxford was the headquarters for the Royalists. That means King Charles had lost London to the parliament forces, so he decamped to the old college city. He must not have been overworked because he went to the Bodleian and asked to check out some books. Maybe to sharpen his military tactics? Anyway, he was told “No.” Nobody was allowed to take books out of the library. They played no favorites in the Civil War. Cromwell received the same treatment. So I don’t take it personally that I’m refused.

It was too bad that King Charles lived before someone came up with inventing scanners. They are lifesavers for me with my chronic fatigue. By the time I tootle down to the bus stop on my electric scooter, bus to Oxford, and scoot to the library, I’m about ready for my nap. I have little concentration left. But thanks to a device made by Tao-tronics I can put book pages on my scanner and download them to my computer back home and read at leisure in my recliner. The scanner is about the size and shape of three-hole punch and sells for about $50.-60. I recommend it.

In my case, I’m using a part of the Bodleian Library that is called the Radcliffe Camera. (Camera: Latin, “vaulted building”) If you’ve toured Oxford, you might remember the Camera and Radcliffe Cameraits location: the Old Bodleian Library to the north, beautiful old colleges on either side, and the University Church of St Mary’s to the south. The church is steeped in history. It is where Thomas Cranmer was tried before being executed, where John Wesley, among others, preached occasionally, and where John Henry Newman was minister before becoming Roman Catholic.

If you are interested in knowing more about Dinner Church sites and if you are interested in being notified as I post the results my research, just click ‘like’ on the Dinner Church Movement Facebook page and you will be notified when a new posting is made.

Bud Tillinghast

Dinner at Pemberley

P & P 3


One of the problems of reading is remembering something you want to use in writing but can’t recall where you read it. Likely, many of you will know what I mean.

The author was writing about our assessment of the Roman Empire and why that assessment has changed in the last couple of decades. Unfortunately for remembering the location of the material I want to use, I’ve been reading dozens of books on the Empire in the last year. That is because I’m researching two current studies of the New Testament and both of them place their  interpretation in the context of the Roman Empire.

One of the studies looks at Jesus and his message in its first century context, which context is the Roman Empire. The second study focusses on the origins of the church, and they find that beginning to be set in what can be called ‘associations’ in the social culture of- guess what?- the Roman Empire. I’ll be going into detail about both of these investigations of the New Testament in later postings. But I want to get back to their assessment of the Empire.

With some exceptions, those who studied that Bible in an academic fashion for years viewed the Empire as basically a benevolent force for the growth of the Church. Let me speak about my own experience. My New Testament professor in seminary, Pacific School of Religion, was Dr. Jack Finegan. He was known to the outside world as the author of many books, including “Light From the Ancient Past”, and “Archaeology of the New Testament”, both well used and respected in seminary circles. A search of Amazon will show 63 books by him still available after 50+ years.  Yet to those of us who had him as a teacher, what impressed us most was his combining an academic life with owning a yacht (one had to watch Finegan’s Wake- sorry!) and being married to a former Powers Model wife!

But back to the Empire. I think from his academic output that one could safely say that Professor Finegan was well acquainted with the Empire. What I recall most in his assessment of the Roman Empire was its (unintentional) assistance to the promulgation of the Gospel. The Empire had well built roads, which made the job of the Apostles easier in their spreading the Word through the scattered cities of the day. The Legions kept the roads free of bandits. The common culture and languages (Greek and Roman) made preaching the Good News easier to be said and understood. The Roman Empire, on the whole, was considered by Dr. Finegan to be a “good thing” for the early Church.

There were, of course, negative things about the Empire, one of which was involvement in putting Jesus to death. But that could be seen as a tragic mistake. Jesus was, after all, an apocalyptic prophet or a wise teacher of religion, or a Jewish mystic. But certainly not a political figure. Or was he?

So how did we get to where the current Biblical scholars of what we might call an ‘Empire Analysis’ see the Empire in such an ominous light? One of the major books of this school says it well in the title, “In the Shadow of the Empire”. What different writers say in the chapters are variations on the fact that the Empire impacted every facet of the life of every person living in it for the whole of their lives.  When Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee and called those fishermen to follow him you don’t find the Gospel writer speaking of Rome. But that event took place in the shadow of the Empire. Peter and the others knew the influence of Rome. Depending on the year, 20 to 40% of the fish they caught were taken by Rome as imperial taxes, tribute. Rome controlled the ‘civilized’ world of the time and every event of every day was lived in its shadow. It was always there, whether mentioned or not. If that is the case, why did the Biblical scholars wait so long to call it to our attention?

That brings me back to the quote whose source I cannot remember. That quote was to raise the question: What was the context in which modern Biblical scholarship began? The answer is that it arose in Europe, mostly Germany and Britain, in the eighteenth century. It was the time when European countries had developed empires. And those empires, at least to those who lived on the benefits of them, were considered ‘good things’. Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” talks about Pemberley Manor and dances and spas. But it never mentions the colonies and sugar plantations which made that grand life-style possible.

Empires are always a mixed value, their assessment depending on where you are in its pecking order. I could call you attention to the fact that there are more currents of Biblical scholarship today than the two I am concentrating on. There is, for instance, what are called ‘Postcolonial Studies’. On the whole, they are views of empire by those who had suffered the effects of it- the colonials. The view from the bottom is different from the assessment from the top!

There is another example about how a matter can go through a shift in its assessment. In today’s papers we read articles that call us to change our assessment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is either our ‘solid ally in the Middle East’ or it is the source of ‘spreading the cancer of Islamic fundamentalism’ in western and other countries through funding mosques that preach Wahabism.

So the Roman Empire is not the only power over which one might have a change of assessment. But it is important at first just to realize that, whether or not it is referred to in every passage of the New Testament, the Roman Empire is there, and we cannot be faithful to the words our Christian forebears have given to us unless we understand the context in which they wrote those words and in which those words were heard by early congregations.