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Apr 27, 2012 | Luke Blount

Sharing Faith is Major Success


Across the Diocese of Texas on April 26, Episcopalians gathered to share a meal and their faith stories, and in the process, many found new insights from their church community. The event, dubbed Sharing Faith Dinners, took place at 250 venues with more than 1300 participants.


Modeled after Houston Interfaith Ministries’ Amazing Faiths Project, the Sharing Faith Dinners were planned as small gatherings where 10-15 people share a meal and then use a set of specially designed cards with proposed questions about their faith experience. Each dinner took place at a host home and each was assigned a moderator for the evening. Some groups were all from one church, but many participants joined members of other congregations.


“I’ve had wonderful emails today from people who experienced much grace last evening at our dinners. I am grateful to everyone who prepared their homes and their hearts for this event,” said Bishop Andy Doyle. “I hope everyone uses the experience to do more of the same within their own congregations and inviting others to join the conversation.” 


The printed questions elicited stories that explained the participants’ formation as Episcopalians. Some shared stories of the miraculous and others of intense joy or sorrow. Many felt the presence of God had led them through good times and bad and helped to discern their vocation.


With a moderator’s help, every participant answered a question uninterrupted. The format allows people to focus on listening in order to better understand everyone’s faith journey.


Darrin Davis volunteered to moderate a dinner as soon as he heard about the opportunity. As a member of St. Stephen’s, Houston, and a regular Amazing Faiths moderator, Davis was eager to share a similar experience with fellow Episcopalians. After the dinner, he noted a key difference from Amazing Faiths.


“I think people were more free to tell some of their stories than they had been in Amazing Faiths (Project) because everyone had the common ground of knowing their faith was based on the same thing, “ Davis said. “Everyone was really free to really dig deep … Everyone had positive take-aways, and they wanted to get back together and keep in touch.”


Many people reported learning new things about their church friends, and others were able to relate to strangers with similar experiences to their own.


Margo Robertson attended the dinner that Davis moderated, and she was most excited about meeting new people. “I enjoyed interacting with people from different congregations, and Sharing Faith was a good vehicle for that,” she said. “I would definitely do it again.”


After returning from her dinner, Portia Sweet of St. Christopher’s, Houston, sent the Diocese an email that read, “I enjoyed the gift of gracious hospitality, tasting a to-die-for meal, meeting interesting fellow pilgrims and hearing some remarkable faith stories. I am hoping this is not a one-time event, and I appreciate the effort of all who exerted the enormous organizing effort to make it happen.”


A survey has been sent to moderators and hosts to learn how the event can be improved next year. A few logistical hiccups were experienced in the registration and a new format will be developed for the next Sharing Faith Dinners. But with the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the conversations, the Diocese plans to repeat the event in the future.