At the intersection of food and spirituality, the Joyful Feast is an emerging network of people trying to recognize God’s presence around us and within us. In the midst of a fractured world, we do what Jesus did: we gather around common tables to share food, drink, and life with each other. We believe that good and sustainable food isn’t just for the privileged few—it’s a sacred gift intended for everyone. In all that we do, we strive to reconnect with each other, with the natural world, and with the divine.
The Joyful Feast began in the spring and summer of 2016 as a series of monthly dinner church gatherings we called “BBQ Church,” an idea John brought with him when he and his family moved to Richmond from Chicago in 2015. After our fourth gathering we decided to put BBQ Church on hold and experiment with other activities. These experiments included a book group, celebrating communion in public spaces like breweries and a park, a daily devotion and social media photo challenge during Lent, a backyard Easter Vigil, a “theology pub” discussion group that meets in local breweries, and a partnership with a local chapter of Coming to the Table. During this time, John and Anna have also been developing a mobile food business called Redemption BBQ, which will help support and extend the mission of the Joyful Feast.
After more than a year of experimentation and vision casting, we are ready to expand the Joyful Feast in 2018. We are currently working on securing a location for regular gatherings and growing our leadership team. We are also looking for pioneers to help us get this new way of being church off the ground. We’d love for you to join us!
The Joyful Feast is a work in progress—always growing, always evolving, always reforming. In addition to our guiding “why statement,” the following represents the theological foundations and community ethos of the Joyful Feast:
- Our post-Christendom culture is in the midst of a new great awakening and the Joyful Feast intends to be on the cutting edge of this unfolding spiritual revolution.
- God is the ground of being and is present in all of creation.
- God and all of creation are fundamentally relational and bound together in a complex network of relationships.
- We follow the way of Jesus, try to do what he did, and seek to live as he lived.
- We respond to Jesus’ call for transformation in both our personal lives and in our multiple communities.
- We seek to be a part of the new reality Jesus called God’s kingdom, which is emerging throughout the world.
- Orthopraxy is more important to us than orthodoxy.
- “Worship” is any activity that connects us with God.
- In all that we do, we try to minimize barriers to God.
- We seek to be as radically inclusive as Jesus. Everyone has a place at the table.
- Food connects us with nature and with each other, therefore it connects us with God.
- We are committed to participating in the redemption of our local, national, and global food systems.
- We are committed to the reconciliation of human divisions and focus our reconciling work in the practice of sharing life around common tables.
- We are committed to nurturing community in all aspects of our lives.
- We want to “be church” instead of simply “going to church.”
- Instead of a thinking of the Joyful Feast as a traditional membership-based organization, we understand ourselves as a network with a variety of binding connections, points of entry, and hubs of participation.