- Phone: (202) 558-9745
- Mailing Address: 1616 7th St, NW, Washington DC, 20001
If you are new to The District Church’s East Side parish like me, then you will likely hear the announcement for “Community Lunch” soon and may wonder if you should go.
I asked myself the same question last Sunday. It was my first time attending the East Side parish. When it comes to events with lots of food and lots of people, my tendency is to hesitate. I have anxiety around making small talk and eating around new people. However, I realized that if I wanted to get to know people, I had to put myself in spaces where I can do that - even if it may be uncomfortable at first.
Ultimately, I decided to attend and I wrote this post for any other newcomers who are uncertain about attending. I outlined three things for you to expect at your first community lunch. Hopefully, you will find this information useful in your decision-making!
There will be plenty of food provided by the generosity of the East Side members -- hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, fruit, salad, cookies, and so on. I will admit that I forgot to sign-up to bring a food item with me. I only realized after service ended and lunch was about to start. Truthfully, I don't think anyone noticed or was concerned. Its seems that the point of community lunch isn’t really lunch, it’s community. Of course, feel free to bring something with you, but do not feel that you cannot attend if you don’t contribute that week.
Practical Tip: Bring a dish catered towards what you enjoy eating if you are uncertain if the food options will fit your dietary preferences.
It is almost guaranteed that someone will approach you and start a conversation. I know for myself, and maybe some of you, the nervousness around new people and small talk is hard to shake. From my experience this Sunday, it really isn’t so bad. Most people will ask about (1) your experience in DC, (2) your experience with The District Church, and (3) your thoughts on the sermon. It is more than okay to stumble through the conversation and feel a bit awkward. Honestly, it’s natural. Give yourself some grace and trust that God created you so wonderfully that your um’s and uh’s will not overshadow that -- cheesy, I know, but true nonetheless.
Practical Tip: Keep your nametag on - it makes approaching people much easier.
The East Side parish has quite a few kids of all ages running around. It’s refreshing to see kids simply being kids - jumping off the playground, pouring water on their heads, or chasing after one another. It’s nice to see that, even in a culture that pushes kids to grow up quickly, there are still spaces where they can play and be goofy. So, make sure to expect some goofiness. At the very least, it makes life interesting.
Practical Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask the kids questions and get to know them too!
This is only my first experience. You may have different concerns and a different experience. Whatever the case, don’t be afraid to ask someone what Community Lunch is like. From the people I have met so far, they are very friendly and willing to answer any questions you may have.
I hope you enjoy your first Community Lunch experience!