by Lorie Lewis Ham
Check out a video tour of Common Ground at the end of this article.
Common Ground Coffee House in downtown Kingsburg had its grand opening on May 1, 2013. With its cozy atmosphere and great coffee smells greeting you as you walk through the door, you wouldn’t suspect that this is much more than just a new coffee house. Keep up with the latest news from Common Ground by liking them on Facebook.
The managers of Common Ground are Grant and Karen Thiessen, who have been in ministry for 31 years. A year ago they moved back home to Kingsburg after being gone for 16 years, first ministering in Indiana and then Huntington Beach. They felt that God was leading them back to the Valley, but really weren’t certain exactly what all God had in mind. They ended up starting something they never expected but that fit right in with Grant’s new position in Kingsburg with New Life Ministries as their outreach pastor.
New Life had rented a space in downtown Kingsburg for 12 years and used it for various ministries of the church, but mostly as a youth center–something very dear to Pastor Pete Querin’s heart. However, when Grant and Karen moved back, the space had been sitting mostly idle for a while. When Pastor Pete and Grant sat down to talk about outreach possibilities, Pastor Pete shared about the youth center. “That’s when all my years of dreaming came crashing together with his years of experience,” said Pete. “And before you know it we were discussing coffee and coffee houses and reaching a community. I realize there are some things in life that are just chance events. But this was not one of those. This was a divine appointment and I believe God had orchestrated that meeting for such a time as this.”
Over the next six months they shared and planned together. Celebrate Recovery was also a part of the plan. “It was as Grant likes to say, Market Place Ministry,” continued Pastor Pete. “For me it was a way for the body of Christ to get outside the four walls of the church and engage with the culture in a proactive manner.”
Grant stated that Market Place Ministry means creating a place in the market place to do business and build authentic relationships with people in the hopes that they will see the love and influence of Jesus in their lives and want to have that hope in their lives as well. “And to really focus on serving the community with the gifts and talents God has blessed our individual lives with.”
But it took more than a vision to make Common Ground a reality, it took money. This is where local businessmen saw the need and offered to help. “As they saw the passion and vision to serve our community through a local coffee house and the atmosphere it would provide, and the impact of operating Celebrate Recovery from the same location, about 11 men came together donating the $80,000 we needed to launch the project,” said Grant.
One of those businessmen was a long time friend of Grant’s, Jeff Bortolussi. He and his wife were moved by Grant and Karen’s passion not only for the coffee house but Celebrate Recovery, and wanted to help. So they got together a group of people with the same goals to raise the money that was needed. They also sent Grant and Karen off to Barista College. “We now have two graduates from a coffee college with the knowledge to make the BEST coffee in town! Grant now has a dream come true and he can reach those people in need and provide them with his caring passion and show them the Body Of Jesus Christ.”
The coffee house is run completely by volunteers. One volunteer, Debra Coronado, loves working there. “I love volunteering at Common Ground; it’s been a great experience for me. Meeting people and hearing them say that our town needed this, not to mention our coffee is great. I love seeing the faces when they ask about the business and I get to tell them the story. And seeing their face when they find out we are volunteers, it is like they appreciate our service even more.”
Grant explained their goals for Common Ground as follows:
• Create an atmosphere of peace, love, family, rest and relaxation for ALL people.
• Build authentic bonds and friendships with all who enter.
• Look for opportunities to grow those friendships while sharing the love of Jesus when that opportunity happens.
• Build unity among the volunteers, helping them to understand the Kingdom purpose of the coffee house.
• Provide a place for local businesses and groups to have meetings and help facilitate their needs.
• Provide a place for local worship leaders and musicians to share their gifts and talents to our community on Friday nights and through special events.
• To use as a location for operating Celebrate Recovery Kingsburg-a 12-step program that offers help to so many with hurts, habits, and hang-ups.
Common Ground serves coffee, tea, latte’s, iced coffee, iced latte’s, ice blended coffee, fruit smoothies, specialty smoothies, bagels, scones, muffins, biscotti, and oatmeal.
Beyond what they serve, they provide a relaxing atmosphere for people to hang out, get together, enjoy free wifi, and there is a stage at the back of the building where local bands and worship teams can perform. They also have a TV where people can watch sports and other programs, and a meeting room.
Currently their hours are Monday through Thursday, and Saturday, 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. They hope as traffic warrants to be open later on Monday’s and some Saturday’s for special events. On Friday’s they stay open until 9 p.m. and often have live music. “Most of those who play are local musicians from the worship bands of the local churches,” said Grant. “Some are musicians that play jazz and other genres and are alumni of the music programs of Kingsburg High.”Common Ground also wants people to feel at home there. By the front door is a special shelf where locals put their own coffee cups so they can come in and help themselves to coffee, leaving the money on the counter. This is more than a coffee house–it’s a ministry and a home away from home. No matter what your beliefs are, Grant and Karen want you to feel welcome.
So next time you are in the mood for a great cup of coffee, instead of heading to your local Starbucks, why not head to Common Ground–the coffee is great and the atmosphere is awesome! You can find them at 1310 Draper Street in Kingsburg. Keep up with what’s happening at Common Ground by liking their Facebook page.
Check out this fun video tour of Common Ground Coffee House: