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New church reaches out to disheartened, disillusioned generation

New church reaches out to disheartened, disillusioned generation

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

New church reaches out to disheartened, disillusioned generation

Aug. 13, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0530}

An e-Review Feature
By Steven Skelley**

TALLAHASSEE — Taking a cue from the hanging-out-at-Starbucks phenomenon, Killearn United Methodist Church's Watermark ministry plans to finish building its coffee shop, The Coffee Pub, this fall as one way to reach the area's 20- to 30-something-year-olds. Photo courtesy of Watermark, Photo #06-415.

Killearn United Methodist Church in Tallahassee has a mission statement. It says, “We exist to present Christ, encourage growth and holiness, and send out believers to present Christ.”

The church’s new Watermark congregation and outreach coffee house are designed to fulfill that mission by connecting with that group of people every church seems to have a hard time reaching — the 20- and 30-something-year-olds.

The church offers multiple traditional and contemporary church services in a new facility, but it had a much smaller beginning almost 40 years ago. The first service was held in 1969 at Timberlane Elementary School.

Following those small beginnings, the Rev. Jim Divine, the church’s associate pastor, approached the Rev. Bob Tindale, senior pastor, with two supporters and a radical idea to launch a new church. Tindale welcomed Divine’s vision. “Bob is someone who shares a vision for reaching this generation and is not afraid to take a risk,” he said. “Bob is willing to put his name behind a risky venture because, I believe, he sees the potential for what the gain might be for the church. He had a deep passion for being a Kingdom church.”

Divine’s vision began with a call from God to start a ministry to people in their 20s and 30s. “As I began to study the demographics of this population, I began to see that the only way to reach these post-moderns was going to be using nontraditional methods for entering their lives. They were not going to walk into a traditional church, no matter how hard we tried, so we needed to go out to where they lived and enter into their culture,” he said. “Many young people go to coffee shops for community. I began to pray about opening a coffee shop.”

TALLAHASSEE — Erin Bates takes communion during a Watermark service. Photo courtesy of Watermark, Photo #06-416.

Watermark launched in September 2005 and has plans to finish building it’s own coffee shop, called The Coffee Pub, by September or October. The ministry began with Divine and two people in the service’s target age group — Stratton Glaze, 22, and Michael Lopez, 23. Now, it has more than 50 attendees. About half are college students.

The Watermark congregation meets at a local restaurant about a block from where The Coffee Pub will be located. Members meet at 5:30 p.m. on Sundays and combine modern acoustic worship with early Christian readings and prayer practices. It’s an environment dedicated to providing a safe place for conversation and relational growth.

“We do a lot of interactive activities in our services, from prayer stations to painting walls to recently having each person create a four-by-six card from clippings and art supplies showing the junk, hurt or other things in their lives that are keeping them back from who God created them to be,” Divine explained.

“We take a 10-minute time-out in the middle of each of our services where we have a coffee bar open and we encourage people to stretch, talk and drink coffee. This has gone over great.”

Divine says Watermark is still experimenting with worship, but feels it’s a continuation of the DNA of Killearn United Methodist Church because everyone wants to create a community that lives it’s faith outside their community. “There is no stage, no performance. Just a group of Jesus followers who are serious about community and being a force of love.”

TALLAHASSEE — Interactive activities, like prayer and communion stations lit with candles, are an integral part of Watermark services. Photo courtesy of Watermark, Photo #06-417.

All profits from The Coffee Pub will go back to the church, local charities and community organizations, such as Women’s Pregnancy Center and support groups for people living with AIDS. RJ Voorhees, one of Watermark’s 20-something leaders, says, “This generation is a pivotal group in history, a generation that’s becoming actively involved in social issues.”

Less than a year ago, Divine longed to launch a ministry to reach the disheartened and disillusioned in Tallahassee. That vision is now a reality. “God is really blessing this ministry. We seek to align ourselves with God’s heart and His vision, and when we do, we see His blessing. We know that through prayer, God makes all things possible.”

Individuals interested in learning more about Watermark may call 850-893-1116.


This article relates to Evangelism.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Skelley is a freelance writer based in Beverly Hills, Fla. His columns appear in the Naples Sun Times newspaper and Faith & Tennis magazine.