Opening Hope Kitchen café is one way a new Palmerston North church is responding to the practical needs of inner city business and residents and making them feel valued and welcome.
The café has become a place to call home for the inner city church as it aims to show holistic care and support to those who live nearby and those who attend the church. People who can afford a coffee are invited to pay ahead for others.
Hope Kitchen Café is also the venue for a shared meal for 100 to 140 people before Hope Vineyard’s 5 pm Sunday evening service.
“Some of the people who attend have been damaged by church, by lifestyle or by poverty and do not engage with the church beyond eating together,” says Pastor Lydia Read.
“But, regardless, Jesus is calling us to radical love.
“People need to know they are valued and always welcome at the café or church,” she says.
“We are all carriers of the image of God so everyone matters to us.
The poor need the rich, but it’s also true that the rich need the poor. In serving we find ourselves.”
“We feel incredibly humbled to be able to serve in this way. Whenever we sit with those whose lives are ravaged by drink, drugs or circumstances we constantly say ‘There by the grace of God go any one of us’,” said Lydia.
Why does Palmerston North need another church?
Lydia and husband, Shane Read, felt prompted to begin Hope Vineyard in 2016. Their initial reaction was to ask themselves why the city needed another church. There are already more than 50 churches in Palmerston North.
But Lydia says they knew people who are unconvinced, unconnected, uncommitted or who are simply longing for more and were not being reached.
A third of the Palmerston North population is aged 15-30. Ninety per cent of the total population don’t attend church.
Palmerston North has a reputation for being a student city but is also a gang, domestic violence and ethnically diverse city.
Lydia and Shane wanted a central and easy to find location and found retail premises on the western side of The Square which is the city centre.
They started with a Sunday evening service and small groups during the week, including one on a Sunday morning.
As they began the church and engaged with locals they were surprised to find the number of people living in the city centre who have profound needs, whether housing, employment, connection with others or even an outlet for service.
“The impetus for us is knowing Jesus is always relevant and in step with time,” Lydia says.
“When the Gospel came to town it was good news for everyone.”
More than Sunday
They decided they wanted to open the church doors more than just on Sundays, so they employed a barista and, with the help of volunteers, opened the café.
Now licensed to sell food, they have a vision to eventually provide training and employment for the unemployed, the recently trained and those who simply need someone to give them a break.
Hope Kitchen Cafe is open from 9.30 am Wednesday to Friday and 11 am on Saturday.
People are welcome to use the kitchen café for meetings, to study, to stay warm or just hang out. There is free internet to ensure maximum usability.
A licensed playgroup has just been started in the Cuba Street side of the site which operates on a Tuesday morning.
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For more information:
Hope Vineyard website click here
Hope Vineyard Facebook page click here