Called to Serve Recap—Coffee with a Cause!
Employees got a “taste” of a new way to worship when the General Board welcomed The Reverend Michael Baughman on June 12 for the first Called to Serve of the year. John DeJesus, Retirement Team Leader, facilitated the conversation as Rev. Baughman shared his story of mission and ministry.
Brewing up coffee with a cause, Baughman is the “community curator” of Union Coffee House in Dallas, Texas—a unique establishment that’s a coffee shop, “student union” for Southern Methodist University and house of worship—all under one roof; a roof with a large coffee cup perched on top of it, no less!
A third-generation Methodist, Baughman was educated at Duke University and Princeton Theological School, and always believed that he’d be preaching from the pulpit for his entire career. But after serving both mega and small churches and experiencing the unique challenges associated with each, Baughman knew that he was “spiritually wired to do something different.” He wanted to open a new kind of church; one that caters specifically to young people (18 to 30) who had become disenfranchised from their religion. But in order to accomplish that task, he would have to turn the traditional church model upside down. So Baughman asked himself one important question: How could he create a financially-sound church that was “cool” enough to bring the young crowd back to God?
He explored several business models and spoke to community and church leaders before deciding on the coffee shop approach. “Nothing in the seminary prepared me to open a coffee shop, but I did, as a way to reach young people who are wary of a traditional or even contemporary church setting,” said Baughman. A nonprofit coffee house, sponsored in part by the North Texas Conference and with donations from its patrons, Union is blazing a new trail by extending ministry into a secular setting. “We are making it up as we go along—redefining what it means to do church in the non-traditional setting of a coffee house. A concept that both frightens and excites me at the same time,” he said.
And speaking of excitement, when asked how much he knew about the General Board, Baughman laughed and said, “I get excited every time I open my quarterly pension statement!” But all kidding aside, he, his wife (who is also a pastor) and his wife’s family of six generations of United Methodist preachers, value our agency and the pension support it provides to pastors and their families. A true testament to our mission of caring for those who serve—Baughman’s in-laws have served the Church and collected pensions for as long as the agency has been in existence.
Our “coffee talk” turned solemn as the session ended with Baughman thanking the agency for “having his family’s back” after his youngest daughter was born with several congenital heart defects. “When I made that call to the General Board, the woman on the phone showed great compassion; helping me figure out how to cover the expenses associated with my daughter’s condition. My family wouldn’t be where it is today without you. We could never have afforded our daughter’s medical expenses without the General Board’s benefits, and for that we are appreciative and grateful,” he said.
Still working to find the right mix of religion and repast since opening last November, Union now offers Bible study, a weekly worship service, story-telling and spoken-word performances on of all places, “The Naked Stage,” and of course, great coffee! “There’s a place for everyone at Union. This is the future of ministry,” he said. Baughman’s goal is for Union to be self-sustaining by the end of 2014. And the General Board is so confident that he can make that happen, we ended the Called to Serve by making a donation to this unique effort in support of a unique pastor!
Posted September 4, 2013