On Saturday afternoon, October 20, 2012, from 3 to 4 PM, at Coffeesmiths (Cedar Rapids SW), Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Cedar Rapids launched its first ever Coffee Klatch. The conversation was lively, and ranged over current events, corporate life, and how we might respond to life as people of faith.
It had started with an invitation from Pastor Jo Kinnard to members in the target age-group of 18 to 30, an age-bracket that is disappearing in many congregations, and has been noticed to have decreased in church attendance in recent times across denominations, as noted in different studies.
The invitation had gone out in personal letters, and as an announcement in the monthly newsletter, along with a personal postcard reminder as the date drew near: “As the new pastor of Holy Redeemer, I would love the opportunity to get to know you or know you better! Please join me on Saturday, October 20 for Holy Redeemer’s first ever Coffee Klatch for Young Adults (18-30 age groups). Let’s get together for coffee and treats and casual conversation. What’s new with you? What’s on your mind? Have you ever wondered what some of the Christian responses are to our world problems? Let’s get together and talk about the role faith plays in our lives. As Christians, we are a faith family. We can learn from each other and support one another on our personal journeys.”
For Holy Redeemer it has always been important to stay in touch with its young adults who may be away at school and occasionally come home to visit, or who are now married, and starting a family, and are seeking ways to expand the conversation around faith, outside of Sunday gatherings at church. Pastor Jo Kinnard: “The ELCA considers it vitally important that young adults identify their callings, connect with their communities and live out their baptismal identity celebrating Christ’s presence in our lives. It is critical, in the face of the demands of the world, to provide opportunities for this group to remain rooted in their faith, and for the seeds sown at Sunday School and in Youth ministry to be nurtured. Before we sent out the invitation, the biggest challenge was finding a day and time that would work for most people. We decided to just pick a day and see what would happen.” Although primarily intended for the 18-30 age-group, older adults who would like to continue to be in contact with the young adults are invited to participate.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” -Matthew 18:20 (NRSV)
Zachary Heathman, who was home from school for the weekend and helped launch the Coffee Klatch, had this to say:
“I believe the coffee klatch is an excellent idea. I think people get into a habit of thinking about church only when they are at church, and this gives the opportunity to get together and discuss every day situations and how they still affect us as people of God, in an every day setting away from the actual church building. Being able to get out within the community and discuss Christ openly in an average daily setting is a crucial part of being a Christian and not only relating but sharing our faith with the world.
I have been at Holy Redeemer since I was very little, and in many senses have grown up there. I am extremely close with my church family, which has had a hand in raising me as a person and a child of God. I live in Ames and am currently a sophomore in Aerospace Engineering at Iowa State University, but still keep in contact with my church and visit whenever possible.”
Since that first gathering, several people, including friends who are members of congregations in other Christian denominations, have indicated that they plan to be a part of the next gathering of the now monthly Coffee Klatch, coming up on November 17, 2012, at the same Coffeesmiths location, at Edgewood Station, near Westdale Mall.
Pastor Jo Kinnard and the congregation of Holy Redeemer invite you to join the conversation. For more information and ideas to start a similar ministry in your own congregation, please feel free to call Pastor Jo or Holy Redeemer’s Administrative Assistant Jan Overland at 319-396-8547.
R. D. Putnam, & D. E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2010.)
Article by Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa