Advertisement
  1. News

Contemporary service brings Christians to the Table in Brandon

First United Methodist Church of Brandon pastor Ricc Conner, shown with his wife, Jennifer, oversees the midweek service.
Published Aug. 26, 2015

In 2013, leaders at First United Methodist Church of Brandon decided to try something new.

Looking to create a worship experience for a new generation and for people unable to make it to church on Sundays, they brainstormed. The result: the Table, a midweek service with the feel of a family dinner.

On Wednesdays, attendees eat together and worship together at this casual contemporary service.

I spoke to Ricc Conner, pastor of the Table, about the nontraditional Christian experience at the church and in general.

Conner, who began as a student minister at First United, also pastors Limona Village Chapel in Brandon.

Why did the idea for the Table originate?

The desire to do this comes out of our church's mission to make more and better followers of Jesus. We understand that many people in our culture have to work on Sundays and that a midweek worship service might be a good option. Since then, we've also discovered that the Table has been a great option for our volunteers who serve on Sunday mornings.

How is it different from traditional services?

I would say that the Table is different from traditional services in many different ways. First of all, we begin each evening around the dinner table together. We serve such things as barbecue chicken, tacos, Philly cheesesteaks, baked chicken and spaghetti and meatballs. The worship experience follows and is very casual. There is no dress code, just come as you are. There is a cafe in the worship space for people to get a cup of coffee or soda. Our music style is a worship band. We have a variety of instruments, and each week is different.

We think church should be fun, so it's not unusual to have some kind of fun element built into the evening. We make it a point to make sure that our messages are relevant to this generation. We usually have a four- to six-week message series. This past summer we did a series called Q&A where our attenders asked questions about God, Christianity, religion and so on and we spent eight weeks answering those questions. We are like traditional services in that we still pray together, sing together and receive an offering.

How many people on average attend?

Our numbers vary between 75 and 120.

What is the worship music experience like at the Table?

The music at the Table is led by Zach Alexander and the worship band. It is acoustic guitar driven with other guitars, bass guitar, drums, djembe and vocals. We try really hard to create a worship environment where people can have an experience with God.

Why do you think some people gravitate toward less- traditional services?

For the same reasons others gravitate toward traditional services: because that service speaks to them. While some enjoy more traditional services because of the familiar hymns that are sung, or the choir and organ, others enjoy more modern music being led by guitars rather than an organ. I believe that God can use both types of services and many others to reach people. I believe that people gravitate toward the Table because it is comfortable, casual and focuses on community.

Do mostly families and young singles attend?

Many people that come to the Table are young families and singles, but we also have 40-somethings and beyond that come, too. It's a great group of people.

What are some positive results you've seen since the Table started?

One of the positive results we've seen is the community that has begun. If you hang around the Table for any length of time, you will hear us say, "the Table exists so we can gather together, grow together and go together." Community has been huge. We are better together. During the summer, we have Summer Nights. Each Wednesday night during the summer, we have a family event after worship. We had such things as glow-n-dark kickball, trivia night and water night. It is so amazing to watch families come together and play together. We've also seen so many lives impacted because of what God has stirred in their hearts at the Table.

First United Methodist Church of Brandon is at 121 N Knights Ave. The Table begins at 6 p.m. Wednesdays. Dinners are $3.50. For more information, visit brandonchurch.com.

Contact Sarah Whitman at sarahrothwhitman@gmail.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. This photo taken from video provided by WEAR-TV shows emergency responders near the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla., Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.  The US Navy is confirming that an active shooter and one other person are dead after gunfire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Area hospital representatives tell The Associated Press that at least 11 people were hospitalized. The base remains locked down amid a huge law enforcement response.   (WEAR-TV via AP) AP
    Family members on Saturday identified one of the victims as a 23-year-old recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who alerted first responders to where the shooter was even after he had been shot...
  2. Lawanda Ravoira, DPA, president & CEO, Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, said girls are subject to an alarming rate of violence and bullying and are not getting the help they need from counseling and other social services. CHRISTOPHER O'DONNELL  |  Times
    Leader of Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center comes to Tampa to warn of “unchecked crisis” of violence and victimization of middle and high school girls.
  3. This rendering shows Scientology's proposed L. Ron Hubbard Hall, a 3,600-seat auditorium with an all-glass facade at the corner of Garden Avenue and Court Street in downtown Clearwater. [Courtesy City of Clearwater]
    Plans for L. Ron Hubbard Hall go back 26 years. If constructed, it would have more seats than Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall.
  4. Classic Reflections Carriages is offering carriage rides starting at 6 p.m. Dec. 19-21 throughout downtown Brooksville. Reservations are made in person on each event date, starting at 4 p.m., in front of the historic courthouse. Brooksville Main Street
    Holiday events in Pasco and Hernando counties
  5. A huge number of homes owned by Baby Boomers will sell in the next 20 years. How will the trend affect the Florida housing market? CAMERON GILLIE  |  NAPLES DAILY NEWS
    The enormous generation born between 1946 and 1964 owns about 40 percent of the homes across the country.
  6. A Brinks security guard was shot during a robbery attempt at a GTE Financial credit union in Brandon Friday morning. TONY MARRERO  |  Times
    Deputies thought they had the suspect pinned down at the Bridgeport Apartments, but he fled.
  7. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The motorcycle was headed south on Dale Mabry, while the northbound bus was making a turn.
  8. Police are seen outside a home at 5342 22nd Ave. N Friday in St. Petersburg. Stanley Jones, inset, is accused of stabbing two women at 22nd Avenue North and 53rd Street. One woman died from her injuries and the other was hospitalized. [URSO, CHRIS | Tampa Bay Times] CHRIS URSO | Times; St. Petersburg Police Department
    Police arrested Stanley Jones just after the stabbing Friday on 22nd Avenue N.
  9. President Donald Trump speaks during a small business roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    It’s another sign Donald Trump has accepted that he is likely to be impeached by the House.
  10. In this Dec. 5 photo authorities investigate the scene of a shooting in Miramar, Fla. The FBI says several people, including a UPS driver, were killed after robbers stole the driver’s truck and led police on a chase that ended in gunfire at a busy South Florida intersection during rush hour. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP) TAIMY ALVAREZ  |  AP
    A lawyer for the union where Rick Cutshaw worked said Cutshaw had just left his office before being killed. “He was going home.”
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement