FaithXperimental Spotlight: Grace Cafe, Valdosta, GA

by Ken Howard

The Grace Cafe college group on the porch of Louttit Hall during the 2018 Spring Semester.

Grace Café is an innovative college outreach ministry to students at Valdosta State University (VSU), sponsored by Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia.  

Also known as the Christ Episcopal Church College Ministry, Grace Café is a place of fellowship, prayer, and service. It is also a place at which VSU students of limited means can work in exchange for housing. The program currently has nine college students who live on the church campus and work 20 hours a week running Grace Café, helping with the Thursday Dinners, and serving in other areas of ministry at Christ Church.

Grace Café’s motto is “It’s not cheap….it’s free!” All VSU students are welcome to come by the Café, located in the Christ Church’s Louttit Hall, for a cup of coffee, drinks, and snacks. Students also visit the Café to study, for prayer and wonderful fellowship. Grace Café Thursday Dinners are open to all students. Members of the church come together to make a warm, delicious meal for the students. You don’t have to be an Episcopalian to come for worship or community.

Christ Church also has a 12:00 noon Sunday worship service geared toward VSU students that the interns will help lead. These services are informal Eucharists with the same sermon as the the church’s 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services, and run on the weekends when VSU is in session. All VSU students are more than welcome to come for these services.

I was recently privileged to spend some time at Grace Café, guiding the bishops and leadership teams of the Dioceses of Central Gulf Coast and Georgia (the home diocese of Christ Church and the Café) through a joint, day-long strategic missional planning session. We were welcomed by Christ Church’s rector, the Rev. Dr. Dave Johnson, who introduced us to several resident students and church volunteers. One of the students helped us set up our AV equipment and volunteers from the church made our lunch. We experienced Grace Café as a truly gracious place to be.

Every month (or so) the FaithXperimental Blog shines its FaithXperimental Spotlight on an innovative, missional ministry or program. If you would like your program or ministry to feature in a future Spotlight article, send your 500(ish)-word story to Ken Howard at [email protected]