Friday, September 26, 2008

Three Days of Lunch Adventures

Too often I end up eating a sandwich at my office desk while I try to catch up on some work.

Funny how the highlights of the week seem to be when I get away from the desk and gather with others for some nourishment.

Every Tuesday I start the day with a staff meeting and then a clergy meeting at the church. Like most organizations, that also involves the hallway discussions which I call "premeetings" and "postmeetings."

I leave the church meetings and walk over to the main campus of Augusta State University just across Arsenal Avenue. I direct the ASU Wesley Foundation, a United Methodist sponsored campus ministry, and our big meeting each week is a Tuesday lunch in the student activity center. When I arrived back in Augusta in summer 2007, and began working with the ASU WF which had gone dormant for 6 months, I found I had no student leaders and no students!

Rather than compete with the existing religious groups on the 7500 member commuter campus who have a track record and students we chose to do something different. The existing groups build their program around a weeknight big worship event. We chose to work the day time crowd and offer food, conversation, and a coffeehouse approach emphasizing music and relationship building.

It has been tremendous fun, and usually the highlight of my week as 75-100 students of different backgrounds, majors, races, & religions gather. I can't adequately convey how wonderfully diverse the group is! The lunch gathering has awakened me to how the church ought to be everyday out in community, with emphasis on relationships, eager to engage people in conversation and life, and not so quick to emphasize the points that can easily separate people. I always enjoy the lunch because of the conversation and encouragement that is shared.

On Wednesday I gathered with my friends at the Salvation Army. We are working together on creating more of a partnership here in Augusta in the Harrisburg community. The church is ready for ministry which is more than band aids on old problems, and more than throwing a little money at someone who is requesting financial assistance for this months bill. So, we talked, and toured, and then sat down for lunch. It turns out they serve 3 meals a day, including 2 which are open to the public. Imagine a small cafeteria with some of the SA workers, 3 church visitors, and then many men and women who currently call the SA home. It totally changes a conversation ABOUT someone when THOSE people you are talking about are sitting next to you.

Then to top of my three days of lunch adventures I stumbled upon lunch.

Since we are starting a Hispanic ministry I figured I'd catch a little fast food somewhere and drive around south Augusta and then toward Grovetown to look and think about the project. As I took a cut through road I noticed some cars at the Korean Methodist Church. That made me think about our Korean Methodist friends in Togo who were such a help to the ministries this summer. It also reminded me that though we are neighbors in the same town, and share the same faith, we really don't know each other.

I turned the car around and went in to see if we couldn't take some first steps in developing a relationship.

As I walked into the building I smelled food, and as I turned the corner found six people eating lunch. I apologized for interrupting their meal, and after making my introduction and handing over my card said I'd come back at a more convenient time. But they'd have none of that and had me sit down to join them! What a delicious treat with different food, tastes, and textures than I'm accustomed to each day. It sure beat a boring old sandwich as I wrapped meat, rice, and vegetables in a leaf. It was a better lunch than I'd imagined I'd have, the best Korean food I've eaten since our guests in Togo fed us, and I think the conversation is the beginning of something new and exciting!!

Life sure is exciting when you venture away from the desk, enjoy some good food, and enjoy living and learning from others.

1 comment:

Jon Herrin and Family said...

Hi Scott...Good to hear from you. Yes, I finally scrolled down through our blog to find the note you left. Life is good. We´re here and doing well. It has been a change...but I think it´s good for the family.

Hope all is well with you and yours. You can e-mail me through our site. Drop me a note...and we'll email! jon