Bryn Athyn College Alumni Magazine Fall/Winter 2017-18 - Page 28

running header PLANTING A CHURCH Rev. Anna Woofenden grows a thriving church based on community, openness, and shared meals By Sasha Silverman I n an economically challenged area of Los An- geles, California, Rev. Anna Woofenden (BA ’01) has created a flourishing, open-air “gar- den church.” Every Sunday afternoon, the garden’s gates swing open, and dozens of people from all walks of life come together to work in the dirt, worship, sing, wash hands, and sit down to enjoy a shared meal. One recent attendee, an unhoused middle- aged woman, came to Anna after the dinner and said, “Before I came, I knew I was really, really hun- gry. But after being here, I realize how many things 28 | F A L L / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7 - 1 8 I am hungry for.” This sentiment captures what many feel and reflects the yearning planted years earlier in Anna’s mind and heart. The Dream When Anna graduated from Bryn Athyn College, she knew that she loved the Swedenborgian faith, yet also recognized that many of her peers felt disconnected with religion in its current form. She explained, “Many from my generation con- ceive of church as boring, irrelevant, or judgmental. Still, I think at the core, we are all searching for mean-