The Table at United Methodist Church is a local church that aims to open its congregation to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community while shedding the image of being intolerant.
Located at 5265 H Street, The Table under the leadership of co-pastors Matt Smith and Linda Dew-Hiersoux are taking new steps in order to spread the message of Christianity.
Smith, 36, said the church tries to uphold and spread three main principles: Do no harm, do all the good they can and stay in love with God.
“We really are trying to be a church to reflect what God is for, which is love,” Smith said.
The Table was founded in 2010 and has worked hard to change how people experience religion by rebranding itself to fit a more progressive and inclusive standard.
“We’re really trying to rethink church,” Smith said. “Many of us have been burnt and so many of us have been bored.”
One way the church has reinvigorated its image is through experimentation in music as the church routinely infuses its songs with elements from genres such as jazz or pop music.
The church’s take on music has drawn people through its doors, including 21-year-old dietetics major Emma Tamayo.
“I heard really good music, it sounded like reggae, that’s part of what drew me in,” Tamayo said.
While it was the music that initially caught Tamayo’s attention, it was The Table’s openness to all people that enticed her, with some of those being people who identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ community.
“They’re really accepting and that’s what drew me to them,” Tamayo said.
The Table has set itself apart due to its vocal support of the LGBTQ community, considering the stance that many faith-based organizations have taken.
Smith said extending support to the LGBTQ community seemed like a no-brainer.
“It doesn’t feel possible to love our neighbor if we can’t stand by our neighbor,” Smith said.
With an estimated 25 percent of its members identifying with the LGBTQ community, The Table’s stance on the group is apparent, Smith said.
For 21-year-old applied mathematics senior Broghan Hunt, the church’s decision to stand with the LGBTQ community was the natural thing to do. He said that God’s love is open for all.
“We reach out to people Jesus would have reached out to, which is everyone,” Hunt said.
While The Table is welcoming to the members of LGBTQ community, it has met some resistance from The United Methodist Church, the denomination it is a part of.
According to an official statement from the United Methodist Church’s website, the church states “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
By balancing the teachings of God and the opinions felt by the United Methodist Church, Smith said it can be a lot to handle at times and The Table is still trying to figure it out.
Despite the official church’s viewpoints, Smith said he is adamant The Table will continue to lend its support to the LGBTQ community as well as those who are interested in learning about God’s teachings.
“Right now, it’s [about] opening up the doors,” Smith said.
The church has already taken steps towards expansion as it recently partnered up with the Cal Aggie Christian Association at UC Davis and set up on the campus where they work with the Christian section of the community to build membership numbers.
“It’s definitely a community that is trying to evolve,” Hunt said. “Not every church does.”
Kevin Hendricks can be reached at [email protected]