God's coffee house


April 23, 2010 at midnight
Updated April 22, 2010 at 11:23 p.m.

Although it's only open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the Coffee Break shop offers coffee (including Starbucks brand) and tea, completely free to the public.

Although it's only open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the Coffee Break shop offers coffee (including Starbucks brand) and tea, completely free to the public.

BLOOMINGTON - The space is small, but the coffee and tea are warm and, best of all, free.

About a month ago, First Assembly of God Church opened the town's only stand-alone coffee shop on the corner of Fourth Street and Rail Avenue.

The Coffee Break, a small building near the church, welcomes visitors with an American flag and a colorful painting of steaming brew.

The inside is decorated with scriptures in frames on the walls and a verse scrawled on a marker board near a plate of homemade cookies.

The shop is open twice weekly and offers a place for free fellowship, drinks and homemade desserts.

Puzzles of Biblical figures sit atop a couple of tables inside. Although the atmosphere is Christian, members hope to attract more than just those who want to learn about God.

"They can feel free to talk about politics or they can talk about their spiritual needs," said Carol White, who first initiated the idea of building a coffee shop. "That's kind of what we wanted it be."

Juanita Scott, who also volunteers at the shop, believes more residents need to understand the shop isn't just a Christian project.

"I think people don't understand what it's really all about," she said.

The vision for the shop came to her during a quiet prayer time years ago, White said.

"I prayed about it and then I'd forget about it, and then when I would be praying the Lord would bring it up again," she said.

Then, about two years ago, her church began to think of ways to impact the community.

Within days, the church received the building as a donations from Six-Mile Assembly of God in Port Lavaca and funds to remodel the building. The 20-member church worked for nearly a year and a half to completely revamp the building. It opened for the first time in March.

"It was kind of like a dream because in the beginning, you think, could this really be?" White said. "This was kind of like God's project."

But within two weeks of opening, the shop was vandalized. Streaks of black graffiti spell out the words "13 South Side," the name of a local gang, on the side of the building. White said she was discouraged.

"That's some of the people we really wanted to be a blessing to did that," she said. "It was discouraging because we worked really hard on the building and we worked a long time on it."

But the action made her realize how badly the venue is needed.

"It just showed me, too, that those people just need the love of God."

Although many churches have coffee shops, White believes theirs is unique because a lack of entertainment options for Bloomington residents.

White hopes the coffeehouse will eventually have a porch that can be a venue for live music, but members are open for new ways to use the space.

"Anyone that has an idea, we'll let them run with it," she said.



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