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April 29, 2018: The Gifts of Communal Meals

by Sheila Arbury

This spring All Souls is reviving a beloved tradition of small dinner groups called, for no apparent reason, Foyer Dinners (motto: a funny name for a fun custom).  For these dinners, six to eight parishioners, coordinated by a captain, take turns hosting one another over the course of a year, monthly or bimonthly, as individual schedules allow. If held in a home, the tradition is for the host to prepare the main dish and direct group members to bring the rest of the dinner. Often the host will announce a theme for the evening’s cuisine. Italian is a popular choice. A highlight dinner that I remember was an authentic Thai meal. I often make paella and announce a Spanish dinner. This is not to say that elaborate cooking is required. Hosts are free to cook what they want or to schedule the meal at a restaurant with each group member paying for their own meal.

The spiritual basis for Foyer Dinners is found in both scripture and human psychology. Jesus is often presented eating with his disciples or with gatherings of people. He feeds the multitude with the miraculously expanding loaves and fishes. Both Matthew and Luke declare that the Son of Man has come eating and drinking (Luke 7:34, Matthew 11:19). And, of course, Jesus’s final meal with his disciples is the template for our Eucharist.


Eating together is significant for human psychology. Beginning early in human history, gathering around the fire with food not only offers security from the night’s dangers, but also binds participants together in shared nourishment and community. An article in The Atlantic titled “Why We Eat Together: Communal Dining is a Quintessential Human Experience” states that “eating together gives us the sense of the community we seek” (Fresco, Louise O. The Atlantic, Nov 26, 2015).

Since shared meals offer so many benefits, we are eager to start Foyer Dinners again. They are particularly good ways to get to know people you don’t already know well.  And, building on the parish’s expressed desire to find new opportunities for spiritual growth and sharing, each dinner will include a brief reading related to spiritual community for the group to use a little of their time together to discuss. With many memories of happy and delicious Foyer Dinner gatherings, I encourage you to sign up for this delightful and meaningful program! 

A sign-up table is located in the “new narthex” near the elevator.  Once a group is full the captain will contact group members, schedule and host the first dinner, and coordinate future dinner dates and hosts.

Last Published: April 26, 2018 12:45 PM
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