Last year, the Canberra Region Presbytery adopted a Mission Plan that included a commitment to doing this together across Congregations. Inspired by this decision, a group of people in the south of Canberra began working to hold just such an event. And so it came to pass that Meet to Eat took place last Sunday at the Tuggeranong Uniting Church, with people from five Congregations across Canberra, the Grace Faith Community, and people from the local Wanniassa community gathering together for the event.

Meet to Eat offered people a space to meet and talk—the back half of the church was set up with a series of tables, each offering a very different craft activity. Table Run constructed and ran a motorised Marble Run; the next table’s COVID safe version of the Chocolate Game passed the plate of chocolate around to already gloved participants, eager to swiftly cut squares off before another six was bowled. Many of the kids enjoyed this – as well as a number of adults present, it must be said!

Crafting Contemplation’s table involved construction of an executive tabletop meditative Zen garden, as a gift for another, whilst a fourth Table Thought table offered a space where people could simply sit and chat as they coloured in pages or completed wordsearches and mazes around the theme of food or greetings in many languages. Every table was a place where people could talk with each other whilst engaging in the activity at that table— something that traditional Sunday morning church gatherings don’t always offer!

Meet to Eat also offered people a space to worship God—the front half of the church had the traditional rows of chairs, focussed around a table where a single dinner setting was in view. The newly-ordained Rev. Sharon Jacobs led a joyful, participatory time of worship, which began with a Māori chant from her native land of Aotearoa—New Zealand. Sharon led the TUC people as they chanted responses to “pull in the canoe” of the visitors, who processed into the church, led by the Rev. Elizabeth Raine.

Once all were seated, a number of the younger members of the gathering took the lead at designated times. Three members of the Synod’s PULSE team were present, and they each took the opportunity to introduce themselves and explain their roles, with Joyce focussing her work on children, ‘Ofa on young people, and Molk on young adults. The support of Synod through the presence of PULSE was greatly appreciated. Greetings and songs in different languages added to the inter-church and multicultural aspect of Meet to Eat. Further inter-congregational connections were engendered as each person present met, and committed themselves to pray for, a new contact within the Presbytery. 

And Meet To Eat offered people a space to eat at table—and continue their conversations over dinner. The invitation (or challenge) was for people to sit with people from other congregations, and not stay in their comfort zone—and many did just that! The café area of TUC was abuzz as people talked, joked, and shared at depth, all whilst enjoying the delicious oven-hangi food cooked up by the eager-to-learn TUC catering team, accompanied by salads and washed down with a traditional Tongan ‘otai drink, followed by refreshing tropical fruit.

Meet to Eat was the first gathering this year for Fam@4, a ministry of the Tuggeranong Church which commenced last year. “We have a growing number of young families involved with and connected to Tuggeranong”, said Tuggeranong Uniting Church Minister Elizabeth Raine, “so having a dedicated space for them once a month—at 4pm on the fourth Sunday of the month—has been a great development. And having the energetic enthusiasm of the Rev. Sharon Jacobs and the longterm hard-working commitment of a strong team of Tuggeranong volunteers means that the offerings are appealing and engaging for our young families.”

Stay tuned for the next presbytery-wide gathering. It should be a cracker!!

Sharon Jacobs and John Squires

Tuggeranong Uniting Church


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