A New Table of Grace

Rev. Sue Westfall, Executive Presbyter, Sheppards and Lapsley

Grace Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa is a recent merger between two, very different congregations. The merger work was thoughtful, care-full, and involved deep listening beyond their theological and social differences. The first pastor of the merged church was Rev. Cathy Hoop, a pastor from one of the merging congregations (the pastor from the other church retired). She skillfully brought the two churches together as one church. Both churches had had food ministries – small pantries at the church or through contributions to dedicated food banks but as they came together, and dreamed together, and prayed together, the Spirit put a new vision in their hearts. That vision was of a food pantry where the recipients were full participants in the program. They named it Table of Grace and it was dedicated April 3, 2024. It’s a free-standing building, just across the street from the church building, well-stocked with meat, dairy, produce and dry goods. When people come to this pantry, they are not given a bag of pre-selected items, but, rather, they do their own shopping, picking out what their particular family needs. Many of those recipients also volunteer. An alliance with the USDA certified West Alabama Food Bank provides another way Table of Grace can stock their shelves, as do the fruit trees and community gardens that surround their building. When the Holy Spirit gives the vision, she also supplies the means and this small church is making an out-sized impact on Tuscaloosa and western Alabama!