When A Place at the Table was organized three years ago, no one really had any idea how it would truly impact those who chose to attend. The hope was for people to come together, eat, and have casual conversations.
I recently attended an APATT meeting to see firsthand how those attending interacted with each other, what has kept this group meeting each Tuesday night, and why people choose to make this group a part of their lives.
Once you enter the door, you will be welcomed with open arms. The people love all who attend, and they want you to feel at ease during the gathering. Although it technically is called a meeting, nothing about it has the feel of a meeting. People are eating, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. Speakers are discussing things that matter. It is a casual environment for people to gather.
Some people have the preconceived notion that APATT is a church meeting. Although it is sponsored by Lester Memorial United Methodist Church and many people who attend go to church there, one would not consider it a church service. The meeting is a non-denominational gathering of people who simply enjoy people from all walks of life. There is no standard you must meet to feel a part of APATT. All are welcomed.
As I mingled with the group, I asked several people, “How long have you been attending?” and “What about APATT makes want you to come back?”
Jacque said, “I have been coming for almost three years. I didn’t know anyone when I walked through the doors, but I was definitely hooked.” Jacque told me that after moving to Blount County her husband had a stroke. She had no family close by and, for all practical purposes, she was alone. She even admitted that before APATT, she would go to Walmart just to be able to talk to people.
As for Ronnie, he has been attending for one year. He said, “It’s wonderful. It’s a place where all denominations can meet, eat, greet, and fellowship.” Logan, who has attended for three years, likes attending because he is able to meet new people. Sally simply said, “It’s a place that shows love.”
As I was about to leave, I was approached by Regina. She wanted to tell me how important APATT is to her. She told me her husband had been emotionally hurt at a church and “was done” with church. When she learned about APATT, she and a family member came to the next meeting. She told her husband about APATT and it’s affiliation with Lester Memorial. He reluctantly agreed to attend one church service there. One is all it took, and he now enjoys fellowshipping at church.
Regina said about APATT, “They are the most genuine people I’ve ever met. They love the Lord and are genuinely happy. They cannot do enough for each other. This group is amazing.”
It was announced at the Dec. 17 meeting that APATT would be moving from Main Street Coffee to Charlie B’s beginning Jan. 14. There were some surprised looks about the upcoming change.
The group was reassured by director Kathleen King that although change is hard, it will be good for the group. She pointed out that there will still be food, more room to fellowship, and they will still have each other. When it gets right down to it, that’s what it is all about – each other.
The next APATT meeting will be held Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 6:30 p.m., at Main Street Coffee. After transitioning to the new meeting place, the next meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 6:30 p.m., at Charlie B’s. There is never a charge. Come experience an evening of food, fun, fellowship, and an opportunity to have casual conversation about a variety of subjects.