Wednesday, 20 July 2011


One of the the most popular things we started in the parish where I was Vicar in Nottingham was an afternoon tea for older people. As well as providing a slap up tea and lifts, we always had a speaker and a short service. It just seemed to meet a need - a place to come for friendship and the exchange of news and for uplift, a prayer and a chance to discuss issues of interest. So I was interested to read, recently, that apparently afternoon tea is back! Statistics suggest that while many of us are cutting back on eating out (including, it seems on alchohol) we are compensating by splashing out on afternoon tea. Sales of scones have gone up 42% in the last year while cream doughnut sales have soared by 51%! Restaurants like the Savoy in London and Bettys in Harrogate are reporting that afternoon tea is currently the fastest growing part of their business. Afternoon tea had fallen out of favour in the eighties when American style coffee shops became popular but it would appear that the British are returning to their roots in a time of recession!  

Many country (and town) churches are branching out into cafe style services and it does seem that there may well be something of a niche to fill here. People really enjoy getting together in a relaxed atmosphere and mingling chat with some focused discussion around a theme or topic. Add an opportunity for some quiet or a little music to listen to or join in with, and you have a winning mix. Church services have always reflected something of the culture in which they arise and there is no reason why relaxing to eat together and linger over a pot of tea should not be part of our worship together as Christians, to which we invite our friends and visitors! In fact, Jewish worship from which Christian worship sprang, was and still is centred around two homely meals - the Passover and the Sabbath;  so churches that base some of their worship around meals are returning to their deep roots.

If you haven't tried it, why not consider at least one worship event a month which is based around a simple meal like afternoon tea?

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