TOTOWA – Since the re-launch of Totowa United Methodist Church’s ‘Spirit Coffee House’ in 2017, the ministry has partnered with local artists, poets, musicians, storytellers, painters, designers, and volunteers to provide a space of creativity, conversations, and connections.
“We’ve been intentional in creating win-win situations to make this project come alive,” said Matos-Post. “For example, we had a student from Berkley design our logo and we provided a leadership academy in which high school students earned volunteer/ leadership hours by designing the space.”
Rev. Chuck Coblentz, former pastor at Totowa UMC, conceived the coffee house initiative and first launched it in 2015 with the help of a GNJ grant. The task force under his leadership set the ground work for the implementation of the ministry by acquiring equipment, supplies, and envisioning the coffee house as a place where neighbors of all ages would gather.
The coffee house recently kicked off “Season 3 of Creation” in which opening night featured an art show with the work of students in the Portfolio class at Passaic Valley High School.
“This partnership with the art students in our regional high school has provided an opportunity for us to build relationships with our neighbors by sharing in the things we are passionate about,” said Pastor Teresita Matos-Post.
But not all nights at The Spirit Coffee House are a knock-out.
“There are nights when it is just me, and a few church friends,” said Matos-Post. “We try not to focus on the numbers. We see the coffee house as a ministry laboratory where we are trying to gauge the culture of the community and our place in it. I am grateful that our congregation is one who is not afraid to try things out and are not bogged down when things do not go as expected.”
Those nights when it is just her and a few church friends, Matos-Post has seen congregants getting to know each other on a deeper level.
“I get this question a lot: ‘How do you get people to come Sunday morning?’ My response is that we do not have an ulterior motive to get people to come to Sunday morning,” said Matos-Post. “That has been very clear to us all along. The Spirit Coffee House is ministry in of itself. It is a place in which people who are un-churched or de-churched can explore themes of faith and spirituality in a non-threatening way. We have all engaged in meaningful conversations with guest of all ages, not unlike Jesus did in the market places. I even got to share my experience of pastoral calling with a young man who was exploring his own call to ministry in the Catholic Church. We see God in it and our vision is that a new community of faith will emerge from this project in God’s time.”
The Spirit Coffee House opens in “seasons” of six to eight weeks. Their schedule can be found at www.totowaumc.org.