Members of Connexion UMC at North Covington knew that in order to achieve their dreams of running a community coffee ministry, they would have to be fearless. The fruits of their labor are providing the surrounding neighborhoods, families, and colleges with a welcoming place to grab some coffee, listen to live music, and participate in spiritual conversation.
While Common Ground Coffee House has become a “community and missional arm” for the church, the main focus is to provide comfort, kindness, and, of course, delicious coffee.
This, Rev. Andrew Covington believes, is how customers “experience the heart of the church.”
Common Ground serves coffee from Safehouse Coffee Roasters. Located in Griffin, Safehouse focuses on providing high quality coffee beans that are often “hidden away from the masses of grocery store shelves and mass retailers on every street corner,” according to their website. It is a product that is a pleasure to drink rather than a quick source of caffeine.
A weekend at Common Ground often offers open mic nights where musicians come to perform a wide range of music styles. The work of Covington’s visual artists are displayed across the walls of the coffee house. Musicians are encouraged to sell their CDs and merchandise, and the artists can provide price tags for their pieces with 20% going toward the coffee house.
The musicians and artists are rarely members of Connexion Church but are a part of the surrounding community. Many are students of the local high schools or colleges, and some are even from out of state.
“We wanted to reach people who are not church goers, and provide a place to meet people where they are,” says Covington. He’s found that not everyone is eager to attend a Sunday morning church service, but spending a few minutes at Common Ground to enjoy a cup of coffee still provides a brief interaction with the church.
Rev. Covington began Coffee + Conversation on Thursday evenings with non-church goers in mind. The weekly event invites anyone who’s interested to come join discussions and ask questions.
The Common Ground team also has relationships with Oxford College and Perimeter College. They provide coffee for several on-campus events, and have partnered with Bread Oxford, a college community open to students of any faith. Bread Oxford uses the coffee house for meetings and small groups. These connections have resulted in college students visiting the church on Sunday mornings, some even brought their families with them over Christmas break.
The success of Connexion’s coffee ministry is largely accredited to the hard work and all-in attitude of the congregation.
“You can’t be afraid. There will always be pros and cons,” says Covington. “Uncertainty could win that debate every time.”
In 2017, Common Ground looks forward to further expanding its hours, and providing more top notch products, such as blended drinks in the warmer months.
They are also hoping to further promote their private meeting space. Common Ground wants to build friendships with as many local ministries, businesses, and associations that they can.
Covington believes the openness to the surrounding community is part what makes Common Ground Coffee House a popular venue.
“You have to serve great coffee, and you have to care about those you’re serving,” he says. “The goal is to provide an experience for the community, and that may lead to an interaction with Jesus Christ.”
Common Ground Coffee House will officially celebrate its one-year anniversary on Friday, January 13, from 7 to 9 p.m. All are invited to enjoy live music, cake, and coffee.