All are welcome at The Open Table

1001 New Worshiping Community receives $50,000 Duke Divinity grant

by Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Service

KANSAS CITY, MO — Bringing rich and poor, black and white, young and old together in communion at the same table is the mission of The Open Table, a 1001 New Worshiping Community of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) planted two years ago by Second Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Missouri.

Some 160 people from the greater Kansas City community joined together for a bystander intervention workshop developed by The Open Table. The workshop gave people tools to de-escalate potentially violent situations. Photo by Chase Castor.

Bolstered by a $50,000 grant awarded by Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, The Open Table will continue its nurturing and encouraging mission to advance racial reconciliation and understanding through shared meals and discussion of timely and relevant issues in a casual, comfortable atmosphere where all are welcome and valued.

The one-year grant will be used by The Open Table to educate and empower staff leaders, partners in ministry and others in organizing, developing and facilitating a series of training sessions on racial reconciliation. These training sessions also will be used to assist other faith groups seeking to do this important work in their communities.

“There is still much work to be done to end structural racism and create a more just society,” said Nick Pickrell, curator of The Open Table. “Guided by the radical justice, truth and love of Jesus, we are working to change the culture in Kansas City. With this wonderful grant, our community will be able to empower our members, along with folks from other religious and nonreligious communities, to work against structural racism.”

The Open Table’s inspiration is rooted deeply in biblical practices. It comes from a first-century Jew named Jesus Christ who birthed a new society in the shell of the old, a society full of outcasts whose faith and actions were wholly integrated, Pickrell explained. “If you’re a person who has doubts, has questions, has struggled in life, then this is the place for you.”

The Open Table is the first PC(USA) 1001 New Worshiping Community to receive a $50,000 Duke Divinity Leadership Development Grant. They recently hosted an interfaith panel exploring how society and the church can practice a more inclusive welcome. Photo by Emily Akins.

“We gather for shared meals, songs and short topical discussions about the intersections of spirituality and life,” Pickrell said. “We curate spaces and experiences meant to challenge and inspire, so we can rediscover ourselves and experiment with ways to care for the world around us. Our gatherings are community-sourced, so many perspectives can be included, and our hospitality grows out of conversation with those around the dinner table.”

Sometimes first-time visitors to The Open Table ask, “Is this church?”

Wendie Brockhaus, assistant curator of The Open Table, answers: “YES, and you are welcome at our table, in whatever state you’re in, whatever country or cultural background you’re from, whoever you love, whatever age you are, whatever your spirituality, wherever you sleep at night … YES. This is church. We are church together. YES.”

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1001 New Worshiping Communities, a ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), offers four types of Mission Program Grants (seed grants, investment grants, growth grants and health care grants) to help in starting or growing new worshiping communities. The Open Table received a seed grant, an investment grant and a health care grant from 1001 NWCs during its first two years of ministry.

Discover your gifts for starting new ministries through 1001 assessment opportunities. Get the help you need with 1001 coachingleader cohortsregional gatherings, conferences, webinars and online resources. Learn more at pcusa.org/1001.

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Duke Divinity Leadership Education aims to create lasting changes in U.S. congregations by supporting Christian leaders and the institutions they serve. The program designs educational services, develops intellectual resources and facilitates networks of institutions that cultivate a coherent vision of Christian institutional leadership and form Christian leaders. Leadership Education is a non-degree-granting initiative of Duke Divinity School, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., and based in Durham, North Carolina. Learn more about Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.


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