Brew unto others
The noise. The crowds. The alcohol and sometimes out-of-control behavior. The club scene just isn’t for everyone.
Broadmoor Presbyterian Church has another idea.
Brew Unto Others is the church’s Christian coffeehouse, a gathering spot for music, movies, poetry, fellowship and free coffee.
The open-to-anyone get-together is held on the third Friday of the month in the church’s fellowship hall.
It is designed, organizers say, to appeal to anyone who might not attend church but is interested in spiritual matters.
“We’re trying to be a judgment-free zone,” said the Rev. Hawley Wolfe, senior pastor. “We’re trying to have a casual atmosphere that is an alternative to what I would call ‘the club scene,’ where there is a lot of pressure for alcohol and other kinds of activities, and where we hope people can ask spiritual questions in a safe atmosphere.”
Wolfe and Darren Kimball, 22, came up with the coffeehouse idea last winter after Kimball began attending the church on a regular basis.
“We’re trying to help the church get younger people in,” Kimball said. “We’re looking for the broken, the outcast — people who feel like they don’t belong in church.”
Kimball is director of the Brew Unto Others house band, American Toast Crunch, comprised of himself on percussion, Trey Smith on saxophone, Austin Normand on bass guitar, Chris Rabalais on guitar and Trent Coyle on trumpet. During the work week Kimball is a graphics designer at WBRZ-TV.
At one of the recent gatherings, a sound stage of microphones, speakers and sound board are set up in one end of the Fellowship Hall while a half-dozen card tables, each with four chairs, fill the other end, nearest to the serving counter and coffee brewing machines. A quartet of discarded hollow-core doors, recycled and painted into “indigenous art” panels, adorn one wall.
Bowls of M&M’s and trail mix complement the variety of coffees served by barristers Anne Wolfe and Bebe Tulley.
More than 50 people attended Brew’s opening night in late September and attendance slipped to just over a dozen for the second event on Oct. 19.
Beth Tulley was sharing a table with her friend Danielle Cormier and her 18 month-old daughter Ava Cormier. Tulley said she attends Broadmoor Presbyterian and was there “to support my church.”
Cormier, who attends South Side Baptist, said she was there to be with her friend. Ava was focused on drawing abstract art with colored markers.
For open microphone night, Bebe Tulley recited, “Practice Makes Perfect,” a poem written by her husband, Richard. Anne Wolfe recited a popular British poem, “The Lion and Albert,” in her best Lancashire accent, to hearty applause of the small audience.
Diane Nystrom told how her parents met in a Chicago club during the Great Depression and sang an a cappella version of “Blue Moon.” Nystrom attended several area churches over the years, “but I found the heart of love,” she said, when she joined this church last year.
Amos Jackson, 21, a member of River Oaks Baptist Church on Old Hammond Highway, and a member of GRIP Nation band, played his guitar and sang several songs.
“This place is what it’s about,” Jackson said.
“We’re doing this because we love Jesus, and we love all the people that Jesus loves — which is everybody,” Wolfe said. “There is a lot of spiritual emptiness and stress in an urban center like Baton Rouge. People seem to be more alone than ever.
“People are disconnected, they’re wanting some kind of community connection without feeling judged or excluded,” Wolfe added. “We’re doing our best to provide free food, free coffee and good, clean free entertainment.”