The Open Table Cooperative movement began in late summer of 2011 and has already involved hundreds of individuals and many communities across the denomination. It is crystallizing many of the ideas and hopes that have been circulating among progressives in the Church of the Brethren for years. Together we’re realizing the dream of a strong, vibrant, inclusive body that will energize and connect individuals and communities, empowering them to action – to lead, worship, serve, and grow together as we join in God’s work in the world as faithful, committed Christ-followers.
Up until June, 2012, the conversation which eventually became the Open Table Cooperative was first known as “Feast of Love.” From time to time you may still see or hear us referred to as such. Both names evoke the welcoming ways of Jesus as embodied in the Church of the Brethren practice of Love Feast. In structuring ourselves as a cooperative we emphasize that the work of this movement is not limited to just our leaders, but depends on collaborative, grassroots-style involvement from members across the country.
The Open Table Co-op is currently transitioning from an Interim Organizational Team, called through a visioning and planning Conference held in October 2011, to a long-term Leadership Board called in May 2012. Two of the five people who from the Interim Team are continuing as part of the new Board. The transition from Interim Team to Leadership Board will culminate at the Church of the Brethren 2012 Annual Conference in St. Louis.
Our leadership intentionally reflects the importance of Young Adult voices in this movement and represents the beautiful diversity of our denomination. This new Board will provide valuable leadership as Open Table Co-op begins to live out our new vision for the church.
Mission & Vision
The mission and vision statements were created by the Interim Organizational Team in hopes of stirring further conversation and beginning to shape our shared dreams for what Open Table Co-op will be. We welcome your feedback and input as we refine and polish these statements and begin planning ways to put our vision into action!
Open Table Cooperative will empower progressives within and beyond the Church of the Brethren to nurture existing and new faith communities to proactively move the Church of the Brethren forward into Christ’s new kin-dom. We will energize and connect people with one another, through gatherings and conferences, sharing stories, and mutual accountability and mentorship. We will gather individuals and communities in seeking the movement of the Divine within and among us, for celebration and action.
Open Table Cooperative works to:
- Build a community that embodies the Church of the Brethren commitment to following the teachings of Jesus Christ by steadily, lovingly, and radically working for peace, justice, and equality.
- Encourage diverse ways to be church through outreach and partnerships with congregations, districts, former members, and organizations inside and outside of the denomination.
- Partner with, and learn from, progressive organizations in the Church of the Brethren, including, but not limited to: Woman’s Caucus, Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Interests, Voices for an Open Spirit, On Earth Peace, Everylight, and agencies of the Church of the Brethren.
- Envision new ways to do decision-making through: consensus making models, full participation by youth and young adults, and calling for representation from underrepresented individuals and congregations.
- Create avenues to leadership, including set-apart ministry, and full participation in the church from: women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, racial and ethnic diversities, youth, young adults, elders, the disabled, and those at the margins of the church.
- Care for God’s creation through encouraging environmental responsibility and sustainability.
- Actively support peacemaking efforts throughout the world, country, communities, and church to bring an end to violence and bring about reconciliation.
- Call progressive Brethren to action through: task force groups within Feast of Love, meetings at Church of the Brethren gatherings, and set apart gatherings for progressive Brethren.
- Fostering an environment in the Church of the Brethren where each person is treated with the attentive, compassionate respect that all human beings deserve.