New UCC Church Opens Conversation Cafe
Racism, natural disasters, worry, loneliness, alcoholism, divorce, life after death ... these are just some of the topics that are being talked about at the weekly "conversation cafés" being hosted by A Different Christian Voice, Massachusetts' new non-traditional UCC church.
On Sunday afternoons at 4:30 pm, people of all ages are gathering together in the Voice's beautiful "coffee house sanctuary" for guided discussions about everyday life and faith. Each conversation café features an original film, interesting stories, and meaningful prayers about a thought-provoking spiritual topic. It's like a live, local talk show but with an inspirational twist!
"I believe that people today want to participate in the conversation," explains Rev. Marie Lucca, founder and pastor of the new progressive church plant. "Folks want to share their thoughts and opinions, ask questions, tell their own stories, and be a part of something bigger than themselves. The Voice offers a safe and inviting place to do that."
A Different Christian Voice is a true local missionary effort, designed to reach those who have never before been part of a faith community. In March, the new congregation moved into a storefront location in Middleton, and parishioners quickly set out to paint and transform the space into a comfortable yet sacred setting. Instead of pews, there are café tables, couches and easy chairs surrounding the altar. Icons, candles and other sacred items are sprinkled throughout. There's even a children's corner filled with books and toys. And of course, there's a coffee bar.
"We serve free fair trade snacks and beverages," explains Rev. Lucca, "and I encourage people to get up and refill their plates or top off their cups anytime during our gatherings."
This new model of church seems to be particularly attractive for younger adults, teenagers and those who prefer a more hands-on and engaging faith experience. For example, although the Voice is solidly grounded in Scripture, the Creeds and Trinitarian theology, they routinely incorporate spiritual practices from other faith traditions and place great emphasis on the arts and community service projects in order to create a hope-filled spiritual connection. Plus, the church has a robust online presence and invites parishioners to participate electronically in the same topical conversations that occur each week at the live venue.
New UCC churches in Massachusetts are currently being funded entirely through donations from individuals and other congregations. The Conference provides guidance, publicity, and liability insurance. It is Rev. Lucca's hope to raise enough money by 2013 to start offering actual worship services and at that time, the conversation cafés will be shifted to a different day of the week. Churches and individuals may make donations to A Different Christian Voice at: http://www.adifferentchristianvoice.org/give/index.php
Rev. Lucca encourages her sister UCC churches to send visitors to join the conversations and bring back ideas to use in their own congregations. "After all," she cheerfully proclaims, "we're the 'talk of the town.'"
You can contact Rev. Lucca at (978) 973-2466 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.adifferentchristianvoice.org.
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