Sidewalk soul food -- Tulsa church joins food truck festival
By Holly McCray and Amelia Ballew
One menu definitely stood out at a Tulsa food truck festival on April 5 in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood.
While other vehicles sold tacos, hot dogs, and meatball sandwiches, Pastor Nathan Mattox of University United Methodist Church freely served Holy Communion from the church van.
The inspiration came from John Wesley 275 years ago. Methodism’s founder vowed on April 2, 1739, to take the good news of salvation to the streets, rather than preach only inside England’s churches.
Rev. Mattox asked the congregation of University UMC how they could minister outside to mark that anniversary. Diane Wood, who chairs the evangelism/witness committee, thought of the neighborhood event. The K-Dub Food Truck Festival is part of a revitalization effort east of downtown Tulsa.
They named the church van "Open Table Holy Communion Food Truck."
They parked in a free lot, near a theater and library, and set up a table beside the van. They offered bread and gluten-free crackers, wine and grape juice, Bibles, a Cokesbury pamphlet titled "What Communion Means to Us," and a brochure about University Church’s Holy Week activities.
Mattox said about 20 people received Communion. He and members assisting him asked passersby, "Are you willing to receive the gift that God gives you?"
A woman lauded the gluten-free option. One man who did not choose to take part did share prayer concerns, and they talked and prayed with him.
Mattox said the experience reminded him of the parable of the farmer sowing seeds. He said he felt like a seed-scatterer that day.
"Launching this has helped the congregation grasp the spirit of community and sharing the Gospel," he said. Some learned Communion can be served outdoors.
Mattox added, "I had my daughter there. I had brought all kinds of things to keep her occupied in the van. She still wanted to come out and get the Bread of Life."
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A table set for Communion is ready for a different kind of outreach in Tulsa.
Nathan Mattox, pastor of Tulsa-University United Methodist Church, prepares to offer Communion bread beside the church van parked at the neighborhood food truck festival.
Nathan Mattox shares Communion with a participant.
Photos by Becky Balser