The Christ Church Book Club
By Maggie FitzRoy
Mark Barrett started the Christ Church Book Club in January 2000, with the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. Almost twenty-two years later, he’s still leading the popular club, which meets Wednesdays at 7 p.m. They recently read Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Christianity, by J. Philip Newell, and then went on to The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.
The club has read hundreds of books over the years, encompassing a wide variety of subjects, including history, biography, religion, science, and current events. They’ve also read novels, classic and contemporary, from Fyodor Dostoevsky to Nicolas Sparks. In the club’s early years, Barrett chose the books. Now he puts together a list of suggestions, asks members to do the same, and they vote on what books they will read that season. How much time the group spends on a book depends on its length. They read through it together and discuss it as they go.
“I love to read, and learning other people’s insights,” Barrett said. “Part of the reason I read is to learn and experience and dig deeper into my understanding of life and God. And I’m always amazed, it makes me more empathetic and broadens my view of life and God.”
“Some people have been in the club for twenty years, and there will be people who just show up for a book that appeals to them,” Barrett said. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to discuss their views while respecting others’ opinions and honoring their differences. Since members come and go, the size of the group varies, currently averaging about twenty people. For a year and a half, they met via Zoom due to Covid-19. They’ve since resumed meeting in person, but members can still attend via Zoom.
Carol Callier, who joined in 2014, said she likes the variety of books they read, and that “getting other people’s input makes a huge difference, because they bring up things you don’t think about. You learn more.”
Groups like this one meet at Christ Church throughout the week, and all are supported by the operations staff, who work behind the scenes to reserve the rooms, set up and maintain the spaces, promote the activities, provide digital connections and ensure the safe operation of the campus. Your generous giving to Christ Church makes it possible to continue to support flourishing ministries and groups like the Christ Church Book Club. Thank you!