Photo credit: Ryan Klinck

Photo credit: Ryan Klinck

Launch & Lead Alum, Lynda Fickling

This week’s spotlight is taken from Together: Community as a Means of Grace by Larry Duggins.

Table fellowship has been a traditional part of the life of many Christian denominations for years in the form of Wednesday night dinners or Friday fish fries. These activities, however, were typically inwardly focused—serving the people of the church—and were large gatherings. Lynda Fickling, director of servant ministry and spiritual director at St. Luke’s UMC in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and a graduate of the MWF’s Launch & Lead program, decided to combine the joys of table fellowship with the idea of small groups by developing Kitchen Groups. Lynda put together a leader’s guide that provided insight into hosting a simple dinner in a home. She emphasized inviting neighbors, especially those in need. She discouraged overpreparation and showing off, suggesting simple foods and a hospitable environment. Her guide suggested the sharing of stories and gave examples of prayers and liturgies that might be incorporated into the dinners. She also provided a few resources on table fellowship from academic sources to broaden the imaginations of the group leaders. The entire guide was seven pages long.

And then Lynda began a group in her own home. This is how she describes what happened:

We usually simply gather to share a meal, share our life stories, encourage one another, and share devotion, prayer, and communion. Very simple—with no structure. I have found giving leaders “structure” is helpful when newly forming, but I remind them to leave room for the Spirit and go where that leads them . . . which is, after a few times, very loose.

My group has been together now for five years this fall. We have been through a death of one member, a death of one member’s son, two divorces, new jobs, and many spiritual challenges and journeys. We took the summer off because so many were scattered, but we are starting up in September. We are planning to meet once a month. Personally, I am truly blessed to have each one of them in my life—God put us together for many reasons!

Larry Duggins, Together: Community as a Means of Grace (Portland: Cascade Books, 2017).