Catch members of The Intersection, an ELCA congregation in Dorchester, Mass., on a Sunday after worship and you’ll notice something unusual about their fellowship hour.
For starters, there’s not a coffee cake to be found and folks don’t linger near the church doors. Instead, they stroll right through them for a walking fellowship hour.
“We [walk] right after worship and get to be together in a way that reinforces positive healthy behavior that everybody can participate in,” said Tiffany Chaney, who has served as mission developer of the congregation for three years.
Walking fellowship hour is just one of the healthy living offerings at The Intersection, a family-friendly congregation whose mission is to “connect faith and life.” There’s also Zumba, Bible study and cooking classes, all held in the church building.
These opportunities, which are free and open to the public, fill a need in the diverse Boston neighborhood. That need was community: “We formed a faith community through the desire of people who were looking to engage community in other ways,” Chaney said. “People who were interested in Zumba started coming a little earlier for Bible study and eventually came to worship.”
Zumba classes brought Rita Shuler to The Intersection. “My girlfriend invited me to church [for Zumba] and I haven’t left since,” said Shuler, who is now a regular at Zumba, Bible study and worship. Since joining two years ago, she said she’s lost 15 pounds, lowered her blood pressure and learned things about the Bible she never knew. “This church has a good vibe,” she added.
Zumba instructor Terry Alves-Hunter agrees. She said the congregation is down-to-earth, family-friendly and lively: “I love the ladies, and I look forward to [teaching] class. They’re upbeat and always on time.” Alves-Hunter is not a member but has been to The Intersection’s cooking classes and hopes to start walking on Sundays.
There’s something special happening at The Intersection – lives are changing through fitness, fellowship and faith. These activities, which Chaney describes as “front doors to ministry,” bring new people into the church and help them connect caring for one’s body with caring for one’s spirit.
“It’s God’s work, our hands, our energy, our feet, our ability to do the work we’re called to do,” Chaney said. “We are able to engage our faith as part of our physical caring for ourselves.”