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Arizona corps 'doing the roast good'

Arizona corps 'doing the roast good'

Arizona corps 'doing the roast good'

A corps in Arizona is building relationships with students by providing a safe place to belong, food for thought and good coffee, while at the same time raising funds for other ministry.

By Terri Jo Neff

Building a rapport with the thousands of Arizona State University students by providing a safe place for them to recharge themselves, their laptops, and even grab a sandwich is the main focus of 1865 Coffee – a cosy shop operated by the Tempe Corps Community Centre in Arizona.

The shop even sells promotional T-shirts and coffee cups with the logo, “Doing the Roast Good”, a play on The Salvation Army’s mission in the USA of “Doing the Most Good”.

“Our goal [since 2014] has always been to have a place for people to belong,” said coffee shop manager, Shelby Baker.

Proceeds from the coffee shop benefit the local Adult Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) program.

Building on its success, the Tempe Corps Officers, Lieutenants Genesis and Martha Apuan, set out to attract busy students to Bible study by serving up an evening of fellowship, good coffee and a hot meal. It was decided Psalm 34 would be the guide: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).

“That verse seemed a perfect fit,” Shelby says.

So “Psalm 34 Ministries” started at the coffee shop and Tempe Corps in early 2017. While the space was provided, Shelby hadn’t done extensive planning on how to financially sustain the program.

“Those of us who were involved were providing the food,” she said.

It was a “little discouraging” when only one person attended the first Sunday, although Shelby recalls “there was a wonderful night of prayer”. Volunteers kept at it, handing out flyers on the street and on bulletin boards. And it didn’t take long for the organisers to realise the outreach connected more with the local homeless than with busy students.

“They needed the spiritual and physical nourishment, too,” said Shelby, who noted that there weren’t other free food programs for those experiencing homelessness in the area on Sundays nights.

Other social agencies and the corps’ social services representatives promoted it. But once the turnout grew, so did the cost of the meals.

“Local restaurants that saw what we were doing and helped us out,” Shelby said.

Now, the coffee shop opens for roughly 30 attendees of Psalm 34 Ministries on three Sundays a month. Attendees also take leftovers from the meal with them.

Shelby believes the program can be easily replicated elsewhere.

“The coffee shop atmosphere adds a sense of being someplace that’s alive and thriving as people come in and out, but really I think Psalm 34 Ministries can be offered anywhere you can worship and eat,” she said.

Having strong support of the local corps leadership is critical, as is having the community’s support. But once the program is launched, Shelby said it’s important to ensure those involved keep an open mind about who will be ministered to.

“You might think it’ll be a certain group,” she noted, “then you find there’s another purpose. And that’s what matters most.”

This article is from the New Frontier Chronicle, a publication of the USA Western Territory.


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