New Castle News

August 20, 2013

Photos, Story: Mohawk community plans to welcome new gathering place

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Quenching a thirst also will help nourish the spirit when a coffeehouse opens in the Mohawk-area community.

The Mohawk Coffee House — or MoCo House — will be located in the former Bessemer Diner on East Poland Avenue in Bessemer.

With a cozy atmosphere featuring couches, tables, warm colors, a wide array of coffees, teas and specialty beverages, baked goods — and eventually live music — the coffeehouse is intended to be comfortable and inviting.

But it’s also a community ministry that will serve up Christian hospitality and the welcome mat will be out for all ages.

Last fall, a joint effort between the Rev. Nathan Leslie of Bessemer Presbyterian Church; David Champ, youth pastor at Westfield Presbyterian Church; and Greg Aydt, youth pastor of Bethel Evangelical Presbyterian Church began to help provide a Christian understanding in the community.

“One of the common ways that Christians throughout the nation are creating such gathering spaces in their communities is through opening coffeehouses,” Leslie said.

The three men also shared a concern about poverty rates, drug and alcohol problems, a lack of activities for teens and the need for a space where members of the community could gather for fellowship in the Mohawk community.

Christ the King Parish and First Covenant Church also are on board with the coffeehouse. Eight members with a representation from each church formed a board and in November, MoCo House was established as an independent, non-profit corporation.

The mission of the MoCo House is to create a positive environment and a place for fellowship and ministry, Leslie explained.

First, though, some work needs to be done.

This month, more than 20 volunteers began cleaning out the interior of the structure. Repairs also need to be done to the roof.

The group is in the process of raising the money required to remodel and purchase equipment to get started.

It’s anticipated that about $50,000 will be needed, and so far, about $6,000 has been raised, Leslie said, adding the organization seeks the support of other individuals, business, churches and charitable groups. MoCo House is renting from its former owners.

In June, the ministry came under the umbrella of the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.

The intention is not a business for the sake of making money, Leslie said. Rather, it’s meant to be a charity and to use proceeds from sales and donations to maintain the space for people to gather.

Costs will be kept low, and there will be paid employees and volunteers, too, he continued.

“We will also be able to disperse money back into the Mohawk community to benefit its citizens.”

The decision to locate in Bessemer came from the realization that the borough is near the school and has the largest population concentration in the district, Leslie pointed out.

“There were numerous vacant buildings in the community and bringing a new business to Bessemer will hopefully bring new life into the town,” he said. “We will be visible in the community and our hope is to meet new people and build relationships.”

A target date for opening has not yet been set.

“When God is ready, it will happen.”