Yes, it's true: The Church Without Walls meets outdoors, rain or shine, every Sunday, 52 weeks a year, in the first picnic pavilion at Candler Park. Once you pull into the parking lot you'll see us on the right. (For more details, just click on the Directions tab in the top navigation menu.)
It's also true that in the winter, our services can sometimes be surprisingly short -- and in the summer, they can get a little leisurely. But one thing that's always true is that we come together to worship and enjoy a potluck meal.
But for us, outdoor worship services may not even be the coolest thing about being the Church Without Walls. Because the other thing we do a bit unconventionally is to make the Lord's Table the centerpiece of the service. Here's what that means:
- The worship service and the potluck meal are one and the same -- i.e., you don't have to wait until the end of the service to eat.
- Just as Jesus did at the Last Supper, we break the bread at the beginning of the meal, and we pass the cup of wine at the end.
- During the meal, we chat just as a family would, discussing the highs and lows of the previous week. We also discuss the liturgical readings for the day, offering our reflections and insights.
And while we may not have walls in the sanctuary, we do have a roof over our heads and a place to sit. Although we feel compelled to warn you in advance on behalf of the park's caretakers, the City of Atlanta, that:
- The picnic pavilion where we worship isn't wheelchair accessible from the parking lot. We wish that weren't the case, but we only have so much pull with the city, so we've been praying to a higher authority about it.
- The nearest quasi-public restroom is at Radial Cafe, where owner Phil Palmer has graciously extended a welcome to our members. So take your mother's advice and "go before you go", be
cause it's about a 15-minute walk from the sanctuary to Radial.
Having said that, in the four years we've been in the park, we've observed the following benefits and quirks of outdoor worship:
- We're the only church in town (as far as we know) that has a roaring hearth in the sanctuary.
- You can bring your dog.
- God does a great job of decorating the sanctuary, so we have one less committee meeting to go do.
- It's OK to walk around the church grounds during the service, which is great if you're one of those people who can't sit still.
- In the cold months there are hot beverages available in the sanctuary during the service.
- You can wear pretty much whatever you want. Remember to wear one more layer than you think you'll need, something warm to cover your head in the cold months, and insulated waterproof shoes if it's wet out.
- If it's winter and you're one of those people who runs a little late, you could miss us altogether on a really cold day, because we might set a record for how quickly we can get through the service.
- If there's a festival in the park, we get to move to the corner of McLendon Avenue and Candler Park Drive, which has a great expanse of grass, and the dogs love it.
If you're still wondering what sort of service you'll encounter when you join us, it's actually pretty traditional: We celebrate the Lord's Table (where we offer an open -- and we mean truly open -- communion), we sing mostly traditional Protestant hymns, we hear readings from the Old and New Testaments, and there's a Gospel-centered sermon. We always eat, and there's always enough food for everyone.
We look forward to seeing you in the park. Remember to dress for the weather and arrive on time if it's cold out. And if you do arrive on time, you'll see that we start each service by greeting each other and saying, You're in the right place.
Click here for This Sunday's Liturgy (hymns, scriptures, sermon topic).