Java and Jesus - New church plant opens coffee shop in Glenpool

11/1/2013

Natalie Jackson, manager of The Well nonprofit coffee shop, brews a customer’s choice on grand opening day Oct. 10 in Glenpool. From left, joining Pastor Heather Scherer as she cuts the ribbon for both Living Water UMC and The Well are: Jennifer Cook, two members of Tulsa-First UMC, Chuck Nordean, Chris Davidson, (Scherer), youth Alexandra Storck, and Lee Ann Reed.

Photos by Dee Ann Nordean
At The Well in Glenpool, aprons promote the nonprofit's purpose: "Drink coffee. Do good."

By Holly McCray

In an ancient time, a woman met Jesus at Jacob’s well when she went to get water (John 4). Today you can go to The Well in Glenpool for a spiritual encounter.

You also can get coffee and a panini sandwich.

The Well coffeehouse officially opened Oct. 10. Storefront signs proclaim: "Coffee. Community. Cause." Mondays through Saturdays, smiling employees sell you coffee and other drinks, pastries and pies, salads and sandwiches. On Sundays, a "Celebration" service freely blesses those who come.

The nonprofit shop is owned and operated by Living Water United Methodist Church, the newest congregation in the Oklahoma Conference family. Church planter/pastor is Heather Scherer.

"The task I was given was to find a way to reach young adults at a time when they are not going to churches," said Rev. Scherer in mid-October.

Church-planting research identified more U.S. cultural shifts for her.

People once looked for school, neighborhood, and church as they established their homes. "School, neighborhood, and coffeehouse" supplants that today, she said.

Scherer doesn’t drink coffee. Nor is restaurant work on her resume´.

But she recognized a need for a safe, welcoming "place to hang out," especially for young adults. As she studied Glenpool, she saw only bars in that part of the Tulsa metroplex.

Scherer also learned that rental cost for retail space, available 24/7, was equivalent to rent for Sunday-only space in a school.

Soft opening for The Well was Sept. 9. The coffeehouse has five employees. Among them are students from Tulsa Community College; they earn volunteer hours through their work. Manager is Natalie Jackson. All are certified food handlers — even Scherer. Primary suppliers are Double Shot coffee company of Tulsa and Coleman’s Bakery in Okmulgee.

The Glenpool location, 480 E. 141st, is within walking distance of a high school and the TCC campus.

Scherer said of the venture, "I don’t know what it’s going to grow into, but I do know it’s meeting needs."

Customers give her prayer requests. Increasingly, unchurched teens are attending a ministry event there on Wednesday evenings. Scherer moved her theological library to shelves in the shop.

Celebration begins at 10 on Sunday mornings, followed by a Bible study. A trio of musicians performs, and Holy Communion is always offered.

The service has a relaxed feeling, "like being at a James Taylor concert," described Chuck Nordean, the Conference director of Clergy and Congregational Development. The space can accommodate about 55 people.

Now both pastor and proprietor, Scherer is navigating in new waters for the Oklahoma Conference.

"The coffeehouse is definitely a risky proposition, but I’m not the first (church planter) to try this," Scherer said. "It’s being done all over the country. There’s something about the intimacy of the worship that people really respond to."

And although she doesn’t yet personally thirst for java, "they have me drinking chai latte," she remarked.


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