Dinner Church at New Covenant UMC


When Rev. Myer Dahn was appointed to New Covenant UMC in Lenoir, he noticed there was a need for a church presence at their Harper’s Chapel Campus. New Covenant United Methodist Church (NCUMC) is the merger of two local United Methodist Churches, Smith Memorial and Harper’s Chapel. Harper’s Chapel was established in the early 1900s in the northwestern sector of the City of Lenoir NC. Three years ago, Harper’s Chapel closed because the Church could no longer financially sustain itself, which adversely shifted the vitality of that community. After reflecting and assessing the neighborhood and needs of the residents, NCUMC has decided to re-engage and restore the community. The ministry of Dinner Church became a reality after Myer attended a presentation on dinner churches at the Appalachian District office of the United Methodist Church facilitated by Rev. Luke Edwards. After attending the workshop, he knew this was something he could do in his ministry setting. He saw a need for evangelistic outreach, so he developed a team and started working towards this shared goal. 

Harper’s Chapel was a church that had been closed because they could not sustain themselves financially, but their building is still a wonderful place to do ministry. Before COVID hit, Myer said they were averaging anywhere from 75 to 115 people attending their dinner church. They did not want to just serve a meal where people would come, eat, and leave, so Myer thought to add in an evangelistic aspect in the form of storytelling. Myer trained twelve story tellers and each of them would sit at a different table during the meal and tell their own redemptive story, how they came to know Christ. For example, they would share their experience serving in the military and being in Iraq, and how they had struggled with alcoholism and been saved. Each one told their own stories throughout the time of dinner church which usually lasted from 4pm-6pm. 

To make this dinner church run smoothly, Myer’s had five different teams all working to help make it what it was. There was the Administrative and operational team that were responsible for writing their grant proposal, coordinating, and monitoring the dinner church. Then he had a cooking team that prepared the meals, a serving team to serve them, a set-up team, and the storytelling team. They started preparing for the dinner church in September of 2019, and by the first Sunday in November they were ready to go. With COVID, they are no longer able to meet in the same ways, so instead of serving meals indoors, they are handing out bags of food. 

To fund this dinner church, they have received grants from the district vitality team, had members make personal donations, and had people in the community including local companies give donations. 

As the dinner church has grown, Myer has watched as most of the people who attend the dinner church are outside of their church. They have partnered with First UMC in Lenoir who picks up a lot of their guests from the men's shelter. In addition to these men, they are able to serve the homeless and people with lower income in their community. Myer watched as a couple of members who had stopped coming to church began to come to dinner church and also started attending Sunday worship once again. The majority of the people who come to the dinner church are people who do not attend church but live in the community. Unfortunately, after just a few months of hosting Dinner Church, they had to stop because of COVID but Myer is hopeful that once it starts up again they will be able to help more people. 

The most beautiful thing about this for Myer is that he is able to watch the community of believers come together and serve those who are nonbelievers. At this dinner church, denominational affiliation doesn’t matter because they all agree that this is kingdom work. This dinner church has already resulted in a handful of those who had never accepted Christ coming to the meals and finding a welcoming and warm place. Rev. Dahn and his worshipping community are truly living into Jesus’ call to love those who are often overlooked and undervalued.

*The Conference Communications team wants to share the stories of hope and creativity that are unfolding in United Methodist churches across Western NC. Please email your ministry story to WNCC Communications Director, Melissa McGill, at mmcgill@wnccumc.org.

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at hfleming@wnccumc.net.


  • Resources
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.