Zion began a new ministry in 2019 to outreach to fellow brothers and sisters in need. Unlike Stephen Ministry, this national model of care brings together folks from a variety of backgrounds and expertise to help one person at a time.
Based upon the theory that communities can address daunting social challenges, this program seeks to help individuals with complex social needs including poverty, isolation, mental health, and chronic illnesses. The “Table” brings together people with unique skills and talents like education, housing finance and healthcare to help provide resources for an individual in need. The ultimate goal is to provide social connectiveness and access to a broader array of social capital supports to move to a healthier and better life. Like Stephen Ministry, the benefits are mutual, it helps the person in the center of the table to helping the whole group who come together to serve.
The Table helps the individual articulate what is important, establish goals and discover together how to reach them. Over the course of a year, Open Table volunteers meet on a weekly basis to work with the person or family seeking support to create positive change. Zion has partnered with local children and youth services to identify individuals who are aging out of the foster care program (typically around 18 years old) and wrapping social supports to help transition to life outside the public support system.
Each volunteer participated in several months of training and discussion before engaging in the first table relationships. To learn more about the program and view some stories about it, please see the national website here: https://www.theopentable.org/