There have been tears, laughter and recipes for signature drinks. Most of all, people have gathered in community and shared meaningful conversations during a difficult time. The Boldcafe Monthly Dinner, based on content from Women of the ELCA’s online magazine, boldcafe.org, has proven that connecting over shared faith cannot be diminished, even during a pandemic.
What started as an attempt to bring people to the website continues to evolve into an authentic, intergenerational space for Lutheran women and more. Boldcafe editor and creator of the event, Elizabeth McBride, said, “Pre-pandemic, readers and writers of the online publication would meet over chocolate desserts, meals or networking events during happy hour. I didn’t want the followers of the monthly publication and participants of Women of the ELCA to miss out on connecting. I wanted to use the tools that we have to make it happen.”
Since the first dinner via Zoom, a digital meeting tool, in October of 2020 with six participants, over 20 now gather regularly each month. Because this is a virtual dinner gathering, participants are encouraged to eat their dinner or dessert or enjoy one of the beverages suggested. This has become a casual, come-as-you-are event. The theme and hosts, writers of Boldcafe.org, change monthly. Topics and guest leaders are selected using data from the website about the most-read articles and most popular writers. Some well-attended topics have varied from the love of pets, the Enneagram, feminine imagery for God and art as healing.
Though the participants may change each month, a few have attended every dinner. “I love attending the monthly meetings because there is always [a] thought-provoking discussion that leaves me thinking about it throughout the weeks to come. I always end up sharing the discussion with my friends,” said Heather Coffman, 36, Lawton, Ok. Coffman has attended all the dinners from the beginning.
Next up, dinner with advocate and pastor
The next dinner, scheduled for Thursday, October 7, at 7 pm (CDT), will be hosted by pastor, advocate and Boldcafe writer, the Rev. Lisa Heffernan. In honor of Spina Bifida Awareness Month, Heffernan will lead the conversation about creating an inclusive community through accessibility, based on her article, “Belonging to the body of Christ”. Register to join the free event.
Donate to dinner
Like dinners out in the world, in real-time, this digital dinner does have a cost. Although it is free to attend for participants, guests who lead the faith-filled discussions are paid. Women of the ELCA’s Boldcafe.org publication budget supports the monthly payments. Participants who value this event are also welcome to contribute to offset the cost to the organization. To help Women of the ELCA provide more opportunities to host these dinner events, go to our website and use the drop-down menu to select “Where needed most” or “Café.” Donations of all amounts are welcome.
Another regular participant and churchwide executive board member, Liz Burgess, 72, Augusta, Maine, writes: “I am grateful for the community I discovered around the Boldcafe dinner table. You, friends, saved me during my pandemic year of living with and caring for my spouse, a person with dementia. We’re better together than we are alone. Romans 12:4-5.”