St. Matthew’s Church used to meet in a big church building in Westerville, OH, but after the congregation lost about two-thirds of its members in 2007 as a result of a rift within the Episcopal Church, and those who remained struggled to meet a $15,000-per-month mortgage, the congregation decided to move out. Now they meet in pubs and in a storefront and the parish is growing in unexpected ways.
The Columbus Dispatch reports:
The Rev. Joseph Kovitch sat outside Java Central coffeehouse in Westerville, sipping iced tea and wearing a red-and-white name badge defining him as a “holy listener” from St. Matthew’s Episcopal Parish.
Looking up from his laptop, he opened his arms and smiled. “Welcome to my office,” he said.
For Kovitch and members of his parish, Uptown Westerville has become their new church home. The congregation holds Sunday services in an upper-level banquet room at the Old Bag of Nails Pub. On Wednesdays, it offers Eucharist to those passing the gazebo outside its “Pray. Think. Love.” house. And on Thursdays, members meet for Uptown Crawl, visiting a different restaurant each week to discuss theology, spirituality or storytelling.
Kovitch said it’s a 21st-century version of street preaching and a way to reach the growing number of people who claim no religion.