It’s a unique concept, having a coffee shop during the week turned into a church sanctuary on Sunday.
But, that is what will soon appear in the Lewisburg community as one church merges with another to birth a new ministry outreach for the area.
Lewisburg United Methodist Church (UMC) has been a part of the community for many years, said Pastor David Huffman. But, struggles to grow its ministry has forced Lewisburg UMC to give up itself to bring about something fresh and new.
“This Lewisburg church has an established history, but all of the changes that have been going on the area, the growth that’s been coming in, we have really not been able to reach out to those coming in,” Huffman said. “We tried several things and we just weren’t able to reach out to many people. Our focus was to do something for the Kingdom of God and at the same time continue on with the tradition that we have here.”
With that, Lewisburg took the step of joining Maples Memorial UMC in Olive Branch, but not to be a satellite church of Maples. Instead, the move was to spring forth what will become known as The Well at Lewisburg.
Corey Truett, an Alabama native who comes from college and youth ministry in Tupelo, will lead The Well.
“Our church name is The Well at Lewisburg, but we are not chartered as a church,” Truett said. “We’re under Maples’ umbrella, so what’s happening is Lewisburg is merging with Maples for the sole purpose of launching The Well. Maples won’t have control over it, this (Lewisburg UMC) will be the new headquarters for The Well.”
Huffman, soon to take another pastoral appointment in DeSoto County, said Truett approached his congregation about the idea of The Well.
“Corey had been assigned to start a new congregation in this area,” Huffman said. “He came in and shared with us his vision and it started becoming apparent to some of the membership this is something we could try. I think they were willing to give up control of a lot of what they had to keep God’s Kingdom growing in this area.”
The Well will be more than just a worship center on Sundays, however. The coffee concept has the facility being renovated into a coffee shop/cafe of sorts for members of the community to meet and share a “cup of joe.”
“When we moved in, we began to realize that what was missing is known as a ‘third-space ministry,’” Truett said. “First space is home, second space is work and third space is where do you meet people, where do you congregate and get to know folks. We felt this was a big vision from God for us to do this type of a coffee shop cafe-type ministry to create community in a place that seemingly feels like it is screaming for some type of community.”
Getting your favorite coffee at The Well will also be a ministry in itself. Truett said The Well will work as a nonprofit with every purchase helping folks in the community and elsewhere.
Fair-trade coffee will be used and some will come from El Salvador and Honduras and by that will aid in home construction and supporting the poor in those countries.
“Ten percent of the “profits” will go back into the Lewisburg community,” Truett said. “So the shop isn't there to just help build our ministry, it's there to build community locally and internationally by being the hands and feet of Christ every day.”
Sunday mornings at The Well will be a non-traditional service, said Truett.
“We’re definitely a very relaxed style of worship,” Truett said. “It’s come as you are. We’re mixing in the hymns and modern music. It’s also the atmosphere we’re creating where it’s OK to be relaxed and it’s OK if mistakes are made. We’re imperfect people trying to worship a perfect God.”
Truett said the name of The Well came from his wife.
“She said the center of the community in the Middle East is the well,” Truett said. “That was where the center of all things happened. We felt like it would be a phenomenal dualism to see The Well as the center of the community and it’s what draws life here in Lewisburg.”
The Well is currently meeting Sunday evenings at Maples Memorial UMC until it officially moves in to its Lewisburg location on June 21.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.