Waffles and worship

The Vineyard Church, a nationally recognized non-denominational church, holds services every Sunday night at Funk N Waffles.

While most students and residents in the Syracuse area spend Sunday nights preparing for the upcoming week, a group of about 29 churchgoers all attend mass -- at an underground waffle house. Each week, the Vineyard Church meets at Funk N Waffles at 6 p.m. to hold a more intimate and laidback service for worshippers.

The Vineyard Church is a Christian organization with groups of churches nationwide. The non-denominational church has a location near Syracuse in Lakeland, N.Y., but they wanted to bring the service closer to students and others who lived in the Syracuse area.

The organization looked at different places in the area to hold the service, and Funk N Waffles seems to be the perfect place. Unlike most church services, the mass has refreshments, a live band and a trivia game.

Matt Jones, the mass coordinator, says the goal of the church is to bring people closer to Jesus, but without the "baggage" church can bring The ideology of the Vineyard Church is to still maintain the tradition of a weekly mass, but to keep it at a casual level.

Abby Warrington, a worship leader and singer in the band, said, "What we wanted was to build a community, and build a sense of friends, and be loved, feel, and come as you are, and not go to church."

The weekly trivia game, which has a different category of questions each week, encourages people sitting at the tables to interact with each other. Jones says that the purpose of the game is to "make people feel comfortable" in order to make churchgoers feel as if they are hanging out with friends instead of attending church. The purpose of the game is not to win, but to be able to bond with the community, which is an important part of the church. According to Jones, it is merely "a dumb idea that's worked."

Community is a key aspect of the church, and although the church suffered a little bit last year, it is making progress and its community is consistently growing. It is a place where one can "Come as you are and be loved."

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