The next time you’re in Golden Grove and in need of a morning cuppa, think about swinging by Café Connect.
Golden Grove Lutheran Church’s new ministry café, which opened in January, is already filling its light, glassy interior with fellowship, and brimming with conversation, keeping Pastor Greg Fowler and the team of volunteers busy behind the coffee machine.
“I thought there would be a bit of momentum time, maybe a month, maybe a term, before we really got some energy. What we’re finding is that people from the school in particular, and others, are using this space. They’re adopting it already as their own,” Pastor Greg said.
“The surprise is not that they’ve adopted it, it’s the speed at which they’ve adopted it,” Chairperson Jon Schutz agreed. “On our first day, we couldn’t get everybody in.”
Café Connect was funded through the SA-NT District’s Mission Stimulus Grant, of which GGLC were awarded the full $25,000 in 2017.
With Golden Grove Lutheran School located next door, the ability to genuinely connect with the school families and local foot traffic is something Pastor Greg aptly calls a “golden opportunity”.
“We can always try and wave them down on the street after they’ve dropped their kids…we tried that. That was quite inauthentic and people felt a little uncomfortable,” he said.
Like any major church renovation project, the support from congregation members, both practical and financial, was critical. Church member Ivan Schmocker (Ivan Schmocker Constructions) was the main contractor, while several members volunteered their time and money.
The Mission Stimulus Grant also enabled GGLC to lay down new carpeting in the worship centre, build a storeroom and new toilets, install signage and create office spaces adjacent to the café, ensuring the church doors are always open.
An outdoor play area with a deck and shade sails is yet to be completed.
Amidst the buzz of the café opening, Jon imagines the congregation would be in a vastly different position had they not received the critical funding to make ends meet.
“We’d have an ageing congregation, which ultimately means we have no congregation,” he said.
“We need to have those transitions in place, so that, at every level, someone’s got the next place to go in their spiritual life. I think the café is just a component of that, because it’s the constant that works for all ages.”
Applications for 2019 Mission Stimulus Grants close on 9 April 2019. Further information and an application form is available at www.sant.lca.org.au/departments/mission/mission-grants/.