No Reservations was born from the intersectional relationships that formed within the young adult group (YAG) of Coral Gables Congregational, United Church of Christ. The group was envisioned on a beautiful Miami Sunday afternoon at a local Coral Gables coffee house. In order to increase participation from visitors to the church who identified as part of the Millennial Generation (1980-2000), our leadership group began doing brunch every Sunday after church at local, inexpensive restaurants. These Sunday Brunches proved very popular and as our numbers grew, one Sunday after brunch, while talking over coffee, our leadership group decided that there was a need to better organize the group and to create programming whose focus was on nurturing the friendships developing in the group. One of the first events to come from the first unofficial leadership meeting was the Wine Club, which along with Sunday Brunch, proved to be the first step in building meaningful relationships outside of the traditional church community model.
As the group continued to grow, at the first Tacky Sweater Party Wine Club, the leadership group put up for a vote multiple names that included Crossroads, Gables Young Adults, and No Reservations Group. No Reservations (No Res) won by majority vote, and the next phase of our grassroots movement was born as we began to expand our programming to do service and social justice works with local non-profits such as Start Off Smart in South Dade and Habitat for Humanity. As the group continued to grow, more and more people began to join who were not affiliated with Coral Gables Congregational, United Church of Christ, as well as getting noticed by young adults of other denominations who wished to partner with us on programming. At the Second Annual Tacky Sweater Party, No Reservations voted to become a multi-campus ecumenical group that was no longer associated with any one church. Since No Reservations never received any financial support from our primary church, there was no conflict of interest to expand our programming and ministries to other United Church of Christ churches, while also doing outreach to progressive churches of the United Methodist Church (St. John’s on the Lake & First United Methodist of Miami), and to churches belonging to the Episcopal Church (St. Stevens & Trinity Cathedral) and of the Presbyterian Church USA traditions (Riviera Presbyterian Church).
As No Reservations became a multi-denominational group, Miami Beach Community Church on Lincoln Road became the church that our group began to test our spiritual-formation programming such as Theology on Tap, and it is the church that our Mosaic service was started. Harold Marrero, our Lead Pastor & Executive Director, was on staff at Miami Beach Community Church and was tasked with reviving their contemporary nighttime service. The Mosaic Service, alongside our Theology on Tap program called The Well, led to an expansion of committed members who felt that No Reservations had become their spiritual home and a place where they could ask questions and rediscover the love that was always at the core of their faith. In an attempt to remain independent from anyone church, No Reservations voted at our Third Annual Tacky Sweater Party to create a formalized leadership advisory board (Tessera) to retain programming and ministry decisions separate from whatever church the group was working with.
The formation of the Tessera advisory board of No Reservations brought in many talented and innovative people who wanted to expand programming and begin to brand original content for the organizations. As our group continued to grow, No Reservations started to partner with First Church Miami’s (First United Methodist Church of Miami) Breakfast Club by making hot breakfast burritos for the Homeless population of Downtown Miami. The popularity of our Theology on Tap model evolved into Vinos & Verses. It served as one of our most popular spiritual-formation programs that brought in many people who had walked away from their faith but had come to rediscover new ways of being Christian that did not hurt them or made them check their brains at the door. In the last couple of years, No Reservations has expanded its programming by developing Re: Define conversation series which focused on breaking down difficult theological concepts and was a joint program with First Church Miami, Coral Gables Congregational UCC, Miami Shores Community Church, and the Wesley Foundation of the University of Miami and Florida International University. With times of expansion, No Reservation has also gone through times of change and re-adjustments as the transient nature of Miami, creates leadership vacuums within the Tessera board and in leading the variety of programs.
Over the last ten years, No Reservations has become a recognized name in many of the progressive churches of Miami-Dade county and is committed to continue programming that reflects the intersectional nature of our relationship building models. Today, No Reservations is associated with Interfaith Miami, which seeks to empower local progressive faith communities by creating programs that unite and expose members of a different faith to one another. And is the outreach branch of The Collective Awakening, a theological perspective that seeks to guide people towards the discovery of the Christ-True-Self inside us all, in order awaken the Messianic age envisioned the prophets of old.