Hamline Church United Methodist, in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area, set out to grow their church family by adding an outdoor pizza oven. The venture has been an undeniable success. The rustic oven takes up to 12 hours to reach baking temperature. The result is a day-long time of fellowship that culminates in a community pizza and movie night several times a year.
(Locator:Saint Paul, Minnesota)
Caleb Overgaard: "When you eat a cheese pizza with that much flavor, it's awesome."
The Rev Mariah Furness Tollgaard, Hamline Church United Methodist: "The bread oven has enabled us to take our altar from inside the church to our front lawn."
Caleb Overgaard: "What brought me to Hamline United Methodist Church was walking by and seeing a lit bread oven."
(Voice of the Rev. Mariah Furness Tollgaard) "We literally have people walking up the street and coming up to our church to see what we're doing with the oven."
The Rev. Mariah Furness Tollgaard: "I'm the lead pastor here at Hamline Church United Methodist in St. Paul, Minnesota. Tonight is our pizza and a movie night. We have our brick oven all fired up."
Maggie Nancarrow: "We have over 30 volunteers who have come together to bake over 100 pizzas for the whole neighborhood. And people can bring whatever they like to just lay out on the lawn and watch 'Shaun the Sheep.'"
The Rev Mariah Furness Tollgaard: "The point is modeling Jesus' radical hospitality of just opening up the church and our hearts. What better way to bring the community together than literally moving our altar from inside the church to the front lawn."
Mike Faust, White Bear Lake United Methodist Church: "Walking in the front door of the church not knowing a single person is a pretty tough event for a family. What we have found is by having some community events they kind of get to know who we are and they kind of, I get the sense they see us as being pretty comfortable people to be around."
Caleb Overgaard: "So, I have walked by the church and looked at the gargoyles many times cause they're real pretty. But I've never had an opportunity to talk to people. But after seeing a little oven with people standing around, I felt comfortable walking up and asking what they were doing."
Leo Torio: "Food brings the people together. That makes them to socialize."
Maggie Nancarrow: "So, when people stop by, oftentimes they want to know how they can get involved in our community garden. They want to know how they can get involved with the bread oven. They'll come into the church and ask us to put them on the email list."
Peter Kruger: "My first day in the church, there was a large focus on neighboring and hospitality and 'How do we build community?' And that's something that's very important to me. The bread oven has been a big part of that."
Gil Kreuger: "I was looking for a community, a place where I could come and worship with my family and be part of a group. It sounds kind of silly but one of the reasons I became a member of the church is because of getting involved in the bread oven."
The Rev. Mariah Furness Tollgaard: "It has opened up a new way for us to be a part of our community. And churches can take many approaches to doing this but the important thing is just getting out and just getting to know your neighbors. Doing so has also reinvigorated our church and inspired a lot of people to get involved in a new form of ministry and pursue a passion that they didn't know they had."
Hamline Church received a grant from another United Methodist church that built a popular community bread oven. The White Bear Lake United Methodist in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota built the first community oven. The church now offers workshops on how to construct a brick oven so churches can share the "Bread of Life" with their neighbors.
This video was first posted on Sept. 29, 2016.