In fall of 2003, a number of spontaneous theological discussions occurred between Catholic and Protestant co-workers at a Washington DC area non-profit.
some encouragement from a Catholic colleague, John-Paul De Gance, one
of the participants in these informal discussions, formed a monthly
Catholic discussion group called the Topical Bible Study. The Topical
Bible Study took place monthly after work hours during the middle of the
week. This bible study explicitly described itself as Catholic, but
encouraged participation from non-Catholics who were interested in
understanding what the Catholic Church taught about a given doctrinal
would vary and discussions typically ranged from 18-30 participants.
The studies regularly attracted Christians from a variety of
as John-Paul switched employers in 2006 and began to add children to
his family, the classroom bible study format was no longer feasible.
March 2007, the Topical Bible Studies came back in a totally different
open discussion format and De Gance renamed them the Faith Discussion
Dinner. The Faith Discussion Dinners continue to be moderated from a
distinctively Catholic perspective -- faithful to the teaching office of
the Catholic Church.
in this format, knowledgeable Protestant and Catholic presenters from
the local area speak and an open discussion follows. While robust
dialogue marks each gathering, the Faith Discussion Dinners emphasize
Christian charity and fellowship amongst all participants. The dinners
have grown to regularly have more than 60-70 attendees from both a
Catholic and Protestant perspective each month.