Posted by: Luther Rice College & Seminary | August 25, 2014

Transition of leadership reflects story of Table Community Church

It is not often that a pastor and the interim who follows him sit down together to speak publicly.


Rev. Patrick Dee, left, interim pastor at Table Community Church, and founder Rev. Dan Houck prepare Aug. 12 for the upcoming Apple Fest (Picture courtesy of Marty Heisey).

But it happened recently when the Rev. Dan Houck, who founded The Table Community Church in 2004, and the Rev. Patrick Dee, who became The Table’s interim following Houck’s departure in May, met to talk about the future of the church in the Atlantic Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church.

Houck, of Lancaster, began the church on Nov. 6, 2004, with about 40 core members. Today about 85 people “call it home,” says Dee, 46, of Harrisburg, who has a one-year agreement with the church.

The congregation worships at Lancaster County Christian School, 651 Lampeter Road, at 7:15 p.m. Saturdays, with a children’s program at 6:45 p.m. Dee says a search for a new pastor will begin in the fall.

“The whole idea” for the name of the church, says Houck, “was a word picture that communicates what the congregation was to be — a place for people to gather, to share stories, to become friends, to serve and be served — a place of hospitality and welcome for guests.”      

Worshippers at The Table sit at round tables for services, which include — besides music and a message -— discussions and games. Recently, the congregation played Balderdash, a board game of obscure words.

“We’re just trying to get people interacting,” says Dee, who previously served six years as a pastor at The Bridge Church, in Hummelstown.

“There’s no way you come to The Table and go home and say, ‘No one talked to me,’ ” adds Houck.

Houck, a BIC pastor for 36 years, says he stepped down as The Table’s pastor after 10 years because he felt it was time for new leadership. Previously, he served as an associate pastor at Pequea Church for 12 years. A native of Pottstown, he came to the area in 1982 to serve the former Shenk’s Community Church, in Elizabethtown.

In contrast to Houck, Dee, who was born in Chicago Heights and raised in Colorado, has a “checkered church past.”

“I was born Catholic. My parents were involved with a charismatic church for several years of my childhood. In middle school, I was a Baptist. And I was in a nondenominational church in my young adult years. I was always active in church. My sense of connection with church is how to engage with the world rather than with theology.”

Ministry is a second career for Dee, who graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a degree in finance and previously owned a general and electrical contracting and property management company in Colorado.

Tired of business, he was exploring other options when a friend who was a pastor of a church undertaking a large building project in Atlanta asked him to lead some ministries.

“We’ll send you to seminary,” his friend said.

Dee received a master of arts degree in biblical leadership from Luther Rice Seminary in Lithonia, Ga., while serving at his friend’s church. That’s when he found his way to the BIC Church.

“I was looking for a church that was a better fit for me. Online I saw a position for the church in Hummelstown.”

By sheer coincidence, Dee was talking to Pauline Peifer, bishop of the Atlantic Regional Conference of the BIC, about moving on from the Hummelstown church on the same day she received a letter from Houck notifying her that he was stepping down from The Table.

“For me, an interim is not just holding a place,” says Dee. “Some special work needs to happen that’s hard to do with a settled pastor. As an interim, it’s not my job to mesh my vision with the congregation’s vision. It’s to help the congregation get clarity where they are and what they feel called to do. … Part of it is to know who they are without Dan.”

Interims are fairly new in the BIC Church, Houck says, and an invaluable help to a congregation in transition.

“If a pastor has been there a long time and a new one comes, the congregation cannot help but make comparisons. An interim is kind of a buffer,” Houck says.

“So when the next person comes, the Dan stuff is gone,” Dee adds. “And a transition presents an opportunity for growth, a special time to go from who are we without Dan. A space of not knowing gives a time for next knowing.”

“See why it’s time for me to go,” Houck asks. “He’s got good stuff. I’m so happy. They are going to move ahead.”


The Table will hold its third annual Apple Fest at Lancaster County Christian School from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, rain or shine. Games, including an “appstacle” course, will be held and a free meal, with an apple dessert contest, will be served from 5 to 7 p.m. Character juggler Chris Ivey will perform at 7 p.m.


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