Considering Who We are in the World

Living Table is a unique community.
Bright yellow umbrella open and floating in the sky surrounded by gray and black umbrellas. Image courtesy of Gerd Altmann via Pixabay.

Living Table is a vital and unique congregation with much to share with the world around us.


On Saturday, February 4, 2023, I participated in a panel discussion on church innovation for the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ. The purpose of the panel was to share how some congregations have faced the challenge of remaining vital in this changing world. The creation of New Branches was one of the innovative options for church.

Others involved were Lyndale UCC with Springhouse Ministries (similar to New Branches), Robbinsdale-Parkway UCC as a result of two congregations merging, and Mayflower UCC who built housing in part of their parking lot and seeks to become carbon neutral in the coming years.

We shared the joys and challenges of these models for emerging church. We talked about the ways in which we address environmental and social justice concerns. How do we decrease our carbon footprint? How do we truly make reparations and attend to the needs of all our neighbors? Essentially the question is, how can church remain vital and connected to community in the coming years?

At Living Table, we’ve spent quite a bit of time and energy sorting out who we are and what we uniquely offer to New Branches and the surrounding community. We have many strengths for sure. I’m wondering how we can share these strengths more fully with the community around us.

I also realize that we are all still feeling the impact of pandemic on our energy levels. Grief weighs heavily even when we don’t talk about it. The bleakness of midwinter zaps our enthusiasm. Perhaps by the end of Lent, we will be ready for more intentional outward-facing activities if we engage in more intentional healing through the Lenten season.

As you know, I firmly believe that Living Table is a unique and vital congregation with much to share with the world around us. I’ve consistently said that we are the best kept secret in South Minneapolis. Let’s figure out how we can share this secret with those who could benefit from the love and joy that binds our community together.

About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and accessibility. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others. She is grateful to be in ministry with Living Table today.

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5 thoughts on “Considering Who We are in the World”

  1. I appreciate your note this week, Pastor Rachael. It makes me think about something…

    In several academic disciplines, folks are studying what has become known as “The Great Resignation, and how people are sort of walking away from all sorts of things at higher rates than ever before. The phrase officially refers to people quitting jobs (and sometimes starting new ones) but it’s not just an economics thing because people are leaving other institutions behind too.

    And some think these broad shifts may come from some desperation, because one of the top reasons cited, at least in the official great-resignation literature regarding employee attrition, is that employees leave due to toxic internal culture (on things like lack of inclusion, employees feeling disrespected, and unethical behavior). This was found to matter ten times more than compensation.

    And this makes me think about what people need, in our culture today, and what church can potentially provide (i.e. inclusion, respect, and an invitation to be part of doing the right things).

    Sull, Donald, Charles Sull, and Ben Zweig. “Toxic culture is driving the great resignation.” MIT Sloan Management Review 63, no. 2 (2022): 1-9.

    • Thank you, Erika. Your thoughts bring to light some of the struggles folx are having in finding meaning, value, and purpose. I am hopeful that church generally and LTUCC specifically can help meet these needs in creative, inviting ways.

  2. Last month Mary Luti wrote in the UCC Daily Devotional about folks joining a church so they wouldn’t be lonely.

    This stuck with me. I think we could reach out to some of the senior high rises near us. And maybe stay-at-home parents who may need adult contact with a safe place and activities for their children during the week.

    Unfortunately, my schedule won’t allow for me to spearhead either of these right now. But maybe they will get other folks thinking of how we can “be church” in other ways.


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