Open Table, a community where people share food and fellowship, community and care, discussion and prayer, has been operated by Leura Uniting in association with the other Upper Mountains Churches since early 1987. About 20-25 people come each Tuesday morning to the Katoomba Street church and about 6-12 on the last Friday evening of the month. The members of the Community come from all age groups. Most are on low incomes, usually pensions/benefits. Some supplement this by limited paid work. Many suffer from mental illness and other disabilities.
Under the able leadership of Alison Croft volunteer staff prepare and serve meals. While many of the volunteers are from Leura church, others come from other churches and some do not attend church at all. Meals are provided by members of Leura, Blackheath and Katoomba Churches.
The Open Table Community is a vital spiritual presence in the centre of Katoomba the main CBD for the Upper Mountains, and provides a communal space where Christ is present both in action (and word when that is appropriate). While members often provide mutual care and support for each other, retired professional staff are available to provide pastoral care and counselling as required. This includes discussion of spiritual, religious and social issues both individually and in groups. Prayer is also requested and shared at times.
The churches action through Open Table is reflecting the words of Luke 4:18 if in that the poor receive good news the captives are set free and so on. The work also reflects the Good Samaritan story (Luke 10: 30ff) in that help is given to the stranger by the stranger who is not always part of the in- group but is a good neighbour and servant of Christ none the less.
We believe that in the Open Table Community those who are poor in many different ways receive good news and are set free from that which binds them.
This includes us all.
Michael, a member of Open Table Community who attends frequently says this:
“Open Table, in Katoomba, I believe, provides an essential service to the community of the Blue Mountains.
Every Tuesday lunchtime it provides fellowship and shelter over a hot meal and a cuppa for those who are in need, whether being the homeless, the isolated and lonely, the hungry or those who are just doing it tough.
Even those just passing through town have a chance to share in its celebration of life.
Michael goes on to say that “I cannot help but have a smile on my face when its time to leave for, while essentially providing a warm meal for the stomach, it also just as importantly, provides food and warmth for the soul. Hence its name ‘The Open Table’”