Stories of Renewal: Community Meals for Multi-Cultural Appreciation

Date posted: Monday 11 September 2017

In the beginning of 2017, the Saint Paul Area Synod distributed 11 micro-grants to congregations wishing to pursue a renewal opportunity. Congregations dreamed up ways to renew themselves that included community outreach, worship renewal, and engaging congregants in challenging conversations. Stories of Renewal is a blog series about what these 11 congregations have been doing with their micro-grants.


Christ on Capitol Hill: Second Saturday Community Meals

“It’s just a special place.” I often find myself telling people that when they ask about my church, Christ on Capitol Hill in Saint Paul.


Is it because it’s right across the street from the State Capitol? Or maybe because it’s one of the first Norwegian Lutheran congregations in Minnesota, turning 150 next year? Perhaps it’s because it has supported refugees coming to the US to make a safer, better life, or maybe because we now have 3 languages sharing scripture each Sunday?


Visitors most often comment about our looooonnnnggggg passing of the peace, where many wander the sanctuary sharing a handshake or a respectful hug. People from many nations come together in worship and in fellowship, clearly enjoying time with each other.


Community Mealtime

With the Saint Paul Area Synod’s gift of a Renewing Transformation in Community Grant, we are working to deepen the relationships between individuals and families through learning about each other’s cultures. We've been intentionally doing this by sharing in a series of Second Saturday Community Meals. Each of these meals is hosted by a group of people from one culture, serving their own traditional foods and sharing stories of their history, how they came here, and how it is for people of their culture living here in Saint Paul, Minnesota.


Our meals so far have been a great success. The first was led by members who are from Eritrea, a country in East Africa bordering Sudan & Ethiopia. The second was led by African American members, along with invited guests from Rock of Ages, an African American Missionary Baptist congregation that meets in our worship space and partners with us in community outreach ministries. Members who are Cambodian and Mexican will host our next two meals.


From understanding to appreciation

The stories of each of these groups are personal, beautiful, and, for some of us, possibly shocking as we learned that we really did not know as much as we may have thought about our family here at Christ on Capitol Hill. This newfound awareness and greater understanding is what we seek as we work toward improving racial justice in our community.


The second component of our plan proceeds from our members’ interest in racial justice, and learning through training how we can actively move from simply seeing the differences in our various ethnic groups toward appreciating the gifts that those very differences bring to our community. As we explore options for this, we are excited about the future here. We see ourselves as a tree of life, bringing healing, hope, and joy to this city that we call home. The grant we received is like food for that tree, nourishing our growth and strength, both within our membership and as we reach out into our larger community.


Angie Shoaf

Member of Christ on Capitol Hill