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Christian coffeehouse to mark one-year anniversary in song

March 15, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - At the February Holy Grounds Coffee House, the parking lot of the Wacohu Grange was full before the band even started to play.

"What a great problem to have," said Lisa Christopher, one of the coffeehouse organizers and a faithful supporter through its first year.

On Friday, that one-year anniversary will be marked with a performance by recording artist Damascus Click, a Christian hip-hop/rap band from Georgetown, Del.

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The doors open at 6:30 p.m. Music, food and socializing start at 7 p.m. and continue until 10 p.m.

The idea for Holy Grounds Coffee House came to Christopher after she attended a similar venture on a Saturday at Grace Brethren Church in Hagerstown with Tony Shingler, who like Christopher is a member of Covenant Life International Church of God at 1515 Dual Highway.

"Lisa told me that we should do something like that at our church," Shingler said.

Christopher said her eyes were opened that night to the possibilities and she still is coming up with new ideas.

"I was on fire. This has filled my need to be around people in a Christian atmosphere," she said. "I mean we have had nights when the spirit of the Lord is really here."

Once the idea began to take shape, a location was scouted and the Wacohu Grange at Huyetts Crossroads was determined to be the perfect spot - close to Hagerstown, Hancock, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Christopher said.

Covenant Life International Church of God subsidizes the building rental and some additional expenses but the coffeehouse still is struggling to break even, she said.

The organizers started out selling food and candy to make money but have decided that everything will be free, with donations and contributions of food and money welcomed.

At the end of coffeehouse hours, those donations go to the bands for expenses like gasoline and, in some cases, motel rooms if they traveled far. Most Christian bands are happy to get that and some actually won't take all the money that is donated, Christopher said.

Shingler said the coffee is donated by Maples Gourmet Coffee and many of the treats are given by Sanders Cookie Jar, both on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown.

"We just asked and they said they would each month," Shingler said.

Parishioners bring steamers, vegetable trays, chips, pretzels and soft drinks. Hot dogs are cooked there and like everything else, given free to those who attend.

On coffeehouse day, a band of volunteers shows up at the Wacohu Grange around noon, sets up tables and chairs, and prepares the evening's events. After everything is over at 10 p.m., volunteers put the chairs and tables away again.

In addition to Grace Brethren, several other churches are having coffeehouse-type programs in the area. Christopher and Shingler said they would like to see a coffeehouse open at a different location every weekend of the month.

"Grace Brethren is on the first Saturday and we are the third Friday. All we need now is someone to hold a coffeehouse on the second and fourth weekends," Christopher said.

All are welcome - young and old, single or couples, and groups - she said. Covenant Connections, a new Christian singles group, meets at each of the coffeehouses.

More information is available at holygroundscoffeehouse.us on the Web.

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