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Local 'talk show' to explore variety of life topics

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Mariann Strozier and Meg Scaggs sit Aug. 24 in the Lifetree Cafe at Meadow Park Church of God. The two will moderate a series of talks following national videos on topics such as "The President's Faith: Does It Matter?"
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Meg Scaggs is pumped.

The co-director of the children's center at Meadow Park Church of God, Scaggs also is co-director of the new Lifetree Cafe series of weekly video presentations and guided discussions that take a form similar to a talk show.

"I am so excited," Scaggs said last week.

"The way Lifetree is set up, it really is something that's meant to be multigenerational as well as something that accepts everyone just as they are, wherever they are on their path, their journey.

"I think that's an awesome opportunity," she said.

The first formal session of Lifetree Cafe, a national network that's almost like a franchise operation and based in Loveland, Colo., is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at Meadow Park Church of God, 2425 Bethel Road.

Participants will meet in the Park Cafe, located in the lobby of the church.

In addition, Lifetree Cafe also is coming to the Pathway Church of God, 201 Pennsylvania Ave. in Delaware.

The series kicks off there at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, said Meadow Park Church of God Communications Director Cindy Heath.

"It's very cool that we can touch our neighbors, even up in Delaware County," Heath said.

The topic for Sept. 12 and 13: "The President's Faith: Does It Matter?"

The filmed portion of the hour-long gathering features interviews with Washington Post columnist Michael Gershon, former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners and a spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama.

Future topics include: "Passing Judgment," Sept. 19 at Pathway and Sept. 20 at Meadow Park; "Living After Suicide," Sept. 26 at Pathway and Sept. 27 at Meadow Park; and "Spiritual, but Not Religious," Oct. 3 at Pathway and Oct. 4 at Meadow Park.

The topics for the following month of gatherings will be updated on Meadow Park Church of God's website, meadowpark.org, as they are released by the national headquarters, Heath said.

"Topics change weekly and focus on popular life issues such as loneliness, immigration, health, guilt and life after death," according to the announcement from Meadow Park Church of God.

The announcement said exclusive, documentary-style films feature people with unusual stories, as well as nationally known figures.

"They're very relatable, practical topics, and not just topics that are 'churchy' or of that type," Heath said. "Obviously with all the topics, faith can be brought in as part of the conversation."

"On film and in person, you'll hear stories that will make you think, spice your conversation, help you make sense of the world and inspire you," the organization's website states.

"And in the fun, casual, safe environment of Lifetree Cafe, you may share your story, too. If you're looking for a place where you can explore life, meet new friends, and experience God, then Lifetree Cafe is your kind of place," the website states.

Heath said Meadow Park is in it for the long haul.

"We see this as part of our Meadow Park vision," she said. "We are striving to be the relational church for families.

"We feel that this ministry falls in line and really helps us to accomplish that mission and to really reach out to not only those who are Christians, but also those who are not, to those who come to Meadow Park on a regular basis and those who do not," Heath said.

"To the community, it's definitely a safe place for people to come to have conversations that are sometimes very troubling, just hard conversations," Scaggs said. "It's a safe place that you can share your thoughts without being judged."

Mariann Strozier is co-director of Lifetree Cafe with Scaggs.

For the church, Lifetree Cafe provides a means of building relationships within nearby residents, Scaggs added.

"Of course we want to touch our own members of the church, but we look at it as a way to reach out to the community," Heath said.

The communications director pointed out members of Meadow Park come from throughout central Ohio, and a variety of outside groups also use the church building.

 

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