Being Myself at Welcome Table Wednesdays

by Hannah Gallo, Ministerial Intern

I entered the Crossings Room on Wednesday, November 28 at 6:30pm to hear a cacophony – screams of joy from Wesley Snyder, uproarious laughter from Elliott Dunner, and lots of chatter from Mary and Linda. The hall was alive and I remarked to a table, “You all really like to get together on Wednesday nights once a month!” It appears that Welcome Table Wednesdays are here to stay: two months in a row with nearly 100 people in attendance. This evening of alternative worship has been life-giving for me and I wanted to share a few reasons for why I feel so deeply grateful for the opportunity to provide the space and your enthusiasm for bringing it to life.

One thing that contributes to this feeling is my great love of entertaining – and not stage, drama kid style entertaining, but of hosting and having people around a table at my own home. There’s a way I get to translate that passion of mine in my private life and into cultivating that here, in my professional life, in the Crossings Room and in the sanctuary. At Welcome Table Wednesday I feel that I am hosting you all for an evening of “delightful dining followed by spirited and enriching discussion”; I can practically see the letter-pressed invitation in my mind’s eye. This gives me great satisfaction and feels that I have the chance to enact faithful hospitality.

But more seriously, Welcome Table Wednesdays have given me a chance to inhabit a different version of myself with all of you. These Welcome Table Wednesdays, untethered from the expectations I place on myself for Sunday mornings, have given me a chance to be a version of myself with all of you, a version I really like. It is a version that feels more casual, more playful, and more relaxed and I hope that comes across to those who have seen me “in action” these past two times. I shared in the closing during the first WTW that it was the first time I had “really felt like myself” and that remains true. Something about the unorthodox space of a Wednesday night means I feel a little looser, a little less polished.

This was readily apparent at the most recent programming, mainly because I got to “share the stage” with one of my closest friends. Tica Douglas is a gifted singer-songwriter that I met in seminary. Because we both spent the last three years immersed in the study of theology and ethics, our friendship was forged in conversations like the one we had very publicly in the sanctuary that night. It was joyful for me to share with you all that side of myself, the one of a proud friend, the one of a student of theology, the one of teasing and sarcastic asides.

Welcome Table Wednesdays have been a labor of love and such a joyful thing to witness and be part of pulling off. Not only because it clearly meets an unmet need in the congregation, but also because it takes work and effort on your part to fill the gaps in our staff’s ability. We feed 100 people from your kitchens! We washed and dried 150 bowls and plates! We fill water jugs, we write name tags, we set up the sound system, and we take out the trash–all of it done with your help, all of it done with community in mind. It makes me feel that I am part of something very alive, something very real to people, and it invigorates me and my ministry.

If any of these things sound appealing to you, I encourage you to join us at the next one on December 19, which will be a Blue Christmas service, meant to provide and hold space for those for whom the holidays are anything but “the most wonderful time of the year.” Additionally, we are always in need of cooks and cleaners and would be deeply grateful for your time or talents in these ways.