Claremore-First UMC removed inside walls in order to reach out.
Leaders had identified a "choke point" for people moving through the building, said Matthew Tucker. Now Christian connections brew every day in a great welcoming space with a coffee bar.
Adjacent to the sanctuary, the space previously was a room that housed the church library, which has been relocated. Church members Matthew and Julie Tucker and Chris and Susan Gates proposed including the coffee shop.
They all love coffee, and Susan owned a bistro for a number of years.
"Coffee shops are part of our culture," said Matthew. "Could we use that to reach some folks? Outside groups that meet here? Are there small groups that would use it? Would it extend our fellowship?
"The answer has been yes."
Donations of many kinds launched the enterprise in late 2013, after church committees approved it.
"It didn’t cost the church a dime," Matthew said. From labor to cabinetry and flooring tile, the group achieved "a budget-neutral footprint." Donors from the wider community supported the project, too.
The beans come from DoubleShot Coffee Co. in Tulsa.
"We try to have a better-than-average product. We want them to have a good experience and think positively about the facility."
Beside the church’s 1939 cornerstone, trained high school baristas serve the customers. "We want to make sure they are as passionate about coffee as we are," said Matthew.
Groups can contact the church to request baristas and service outside Cornerstone Cafe’s regular hours.
Income covers expenses, including wages. Ten percent of profit is designated for First Church’s General Fund, and all other profit goes to the church youth group.
— Holly McCray
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High school students train to work as baristas in the Cornerstone Cafe at Claremore’s First United Methodist Church. Coffee shop profits primarily support the church youth group. Pictured from left are Carter Gates, Taylor Highfill, Anna Tucker, and Colin Tucker (not related.)
Below, Jennifer Willis pauses beside the church’s cornerstone, dated April 26, 1939.
Photos by Holly McCray