Stop in for a coffee at Cornerstone Crossing, and you become part of something much bigger.
St. Ignatius’ newest coffee house, freshly remodeled and sporting a large espresso machine and free wi-fi, is another “spoke” of community service radiating from the “hub” of Cornerstone Faith Center, as Youth Pastor J.P. Thomas puts it. It’s a substantial spoke.
Besides a bright, pleasant place to meet friends or bring work or homework to finish, the coffee shop is intended to contribute funds toward what the rest of the building is becoming. Renovation of eight motel rooms is nearly completed. Four will be rented out as regular motel rooms, again for the sake of supporting the true mission of the enterprise: the other four rooms will provide the community short-term transitional housing for when rough times hit and people find themselves suddenly in need of a place to stay.
Jason Jury, who with his wife Cathy directs the Cornerstone Crossing project, explains. “These rooms will be available for someone who has lost an apartment or lost a home or a job.” Transitional rooms do not have a kitchenette but have a small refrigerator and microwave. “They’re not built for long-term living.” Stays are expected to be no longer than three or four weeks. In that time, Jason says they should be able to get people connected with the help they need.
Jason is just the Renaissance man to run this new endeavor, with experience ranging from barista to pastor to post-incarceration case manager. He knows the difficulty people in transition have finding a safe, comfortable place to live, with resources and supportive people to help with resumés, job training and searches, and a network of community services such as the food pantry or Job Service.
The remodel of two of the commercial motel rooms is completed and they are open for visitors. Work continues, by Jason, J.P., and other Cornerstone congregation members and volunteers. They already receive calls several times a week regarding people in need of their help. Jason says the goal is to have the transitional housing ready by early April. Once it is ready, those in need can fill out an application which will be reviewed to make sure someone’s situation is a good fit for the program.
“This is what I love about being onboard with the Cornerstone Faith Center,” says Jason. “They take a look at what the need is, and then at how we can work to fill it.” They aren’t doing it to be able to say, “we’re good Christians,” he says, but “because the need is there, and we see that we are the hands that need to do it.”
“And we get to make good coffee at the same time,” he smiles. “How can you go wrong?” He and his wife Kathy hope to also establish a garden to offer fresh vegetables to the community.
Jason and J.P. credit Lynn and Holly Lapka, who have been at the head of Cornerstone Faith Center for 14 years, with having the vision and stick-to-it-iveness to use their ministry in a hands-on way to do big things to help people in the community. The Lapkas are currently in Israel on sabbatical, so J.P explained the history. “It’s always been a door into the community. Instead of just wanting people to show up at the church, our whole vision is to engage the community and empower people, whether it’s through employing people, or donating, or just offering a clean, quiet atmosphere that people can come in and enjoy.” says J.P.
Through Cornerstone Pizza (managed by Phil Gribble since September), the group partners with the local schools to help “the next generation,” says J.P. “There’s never been the intent to make money other than to be able to give to the community.” They have raised funds for student trips, helping families through traumatic times, back-to-school parties, and helping in any way they can. This year, they received a Toºwn Pump grant that helps them provide weekend food backpacks that the school makes available for students at risk of food shortage.
“I think the community has recognized it’s not just about the pizza. Not just about coffee. Not just about the church. We’ve been able to build relationships throughout the community, so it’s just ‘Cornerstone’ now.”