Is this the church of the Mystic Pizza? Sometimes we wonder! It is more than a year ago now that we sold the old church building and moved into the restaurant next door to “Andrea’s Pizza”. New folding chairs are starting to look like they came with the old oak altar and the brass cross from the Fellowship hall. The bar is well stocked with coffee supplies and plastic plates and forks. The screen for our power point worship order hides the waitress station/sacristy with the help of an old handmade altar cloth refitted as a curtain.
The dwindling congregation knew it was time to take risks if we were going to survive in our Worcester community. We can’t yet see what we will look like, but we have found new ways to live as the body of Christ. While maintaining basic giving to each of our three denominations (Disciples, American Baptist and United Church of Christ), our mission efforts have become very local.
Bethany adopted the Rape Crisis Center of Central Massachusetts as our primary local mission. In addition to funding, we have members trained as hotline counselors, a member on the board of directors, small group leaders, and assisting with planning the spirituality focus for Center’s upcoming 25th anniversary events. We have begun a weekly healing service and are studying biblical stories of rape.
Our new location has many surprise blessings. Our morning worship, with attendance around 20, feels comfortable in the small restaurant. Evening worship is followed by a delicious Italian meal provided by the take-out restaurant next door. Bible study around the bar is friendly and welcoming to new comers. Game night includes pizza; we are considering “dinner and a movie” as a possible after school program.
Can we build a church by selling a building? We still don’t know the answer to that question. But we have learned that the journey from place of the steeple to place of the pizza is a faithful journey.