This is a beautiful account of a coffee shop that served as both “sanctuary” and “church” for persons. I’d love to be part of an endeavor like this:
As an inner-city endeavour financed by a suburban Christian megachurch (First Alliance), the House was always an unusual outfit. The religious connection made some folks uncomfortable. The House wasn’t perfect. But it was a place where many people found community and connection.
“That was part of our DNA — to be a place of community for those who might not have community elsewhere,” says Derrick Mitchell, who managed the shop for most of its existence (he left in June).
Just as the corner market in my neighbourhood is more than a store thanks to a strong community vision, the House was more than a coffee shop. Where other shops would say “move along” to unusual characters (bad for business!), the House said “come in.”
For some, that policy of welcome became a lifeline.
Many homeless Calgarians found acceptance there, as did people struggling with addictions.
“The ‘sanctuary’ part of our name is a big deal,” says assistant manager Josh Albers.
The House also collaborated with local agencies to provide employment experience for folks who needed it.
Others practically lived at the House. Take Michael, for example. Michael started coming to the House after suffering a brain injury, and has returned almost daily for more than 12 years.