By Terri Farmer
For 131 years Patton United Methodist Church has been a constant in the small mountain town of Franklin, NC. This summer, they received a 2022 Equipping the Local Church Grant for an initiative to invite people in their community for a meal and scripture-based conversation. As far as their pastor, Rev. Evan Hill, knows, there are no other places in Franklin that offer a free meal in this kind of setting.
“I still feel like we’re in the early experimenting stages of the Sunday Supper, but it has been fun to see how laughter and some silly conversation can accompany deep reflection on Jesus and the good news. There’s something about gathering around the meal table that allows both more levity and vulnerability,” said Rev. Hill in a recent email to our office.
While Patton Sunday Supper has garnered a small crowd, two of those who have joined are not regular attendees on Sunday mornings. Volunteers from the church, the pastor, and people from the community engage in conversation brought about from scripture read during the suppers, and that has been encouraging.
Rev. Dr. Heather Lear (Vice President for Grant Administration) and I were invited to join Patton Sunday Supper in October, and the experience was nothing short of familial. We arrived at Patton during “Taco Night” and got to know the church and community members attending the supper. Rev. Hill read scripture from Luke 7:36-50 and encouraged the groups at each table to discuss two questions. The most intriguing question of the evening was: What makes forgiveness so powerful?
This question launched excellent conversation, especially at the table where I sat, with many perspectives being shared. Pastor Hill ended the evening by gathering our answers and giving more context to the discussion.
Even though the crowd at Patton United Methodist Church’s Sunday Supper is small and familiar, the conversations are nothing short of transformational.