Tim Burgan and Lisa Lyons have something brewing – and it’s not just cups of Joe. They are serving hope and unity as well.
Three weeks ago, they launched an upscale coffee shop in downtown Monessen called His Place – Coffee, Community and More. Their objective, according to the His Place Facebook page, is “to bring hope to the community by working with other churches and organizations in the area through our tutoring program, reading camp, Celebrate Recovery, Single Mom Programs, Mentoring and so much more.”
Burgan is the lead pastor of Christian Center Church, on Route 51 in Rostraver Township.
“This is where we began all of our programs, which have been very effective,” he said.
Now those programs are being offered in Monessen, in a Third Street building that was once a fire station. Lyons, the outreach director, said Center Christian Church “raised all of the money” to purchase the structure and renovate it “so we’re able to extend our programs to the other side of the building.”
Over time, they will be adding programs as well.
It is a stylish renovation, to be sure, especially in a city that has been experiencing tough times. His Place has a cheery, appealing facade.
“A portion of the building looks like it’s in Shadyside or South Side or Lawrenceville,” Burgan said, proudly comparing His Place with those trendy neighborhoods of Pittsburgh.
The shop is named for the Great Almighty and was inspired by a locally produced TV show called “His Place,” Burgan said. He is the communications director for Cornerstone Television Network, a non-commercial Christian broadcast and satellite television network that airs the show. It is based in Wall, Allegheny County.
The Monessen location opened for business Sept. 13, following a ribbon cutting that morning. It is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day except Sunday.
Cooperating with other local churches is a key element of this endeavor, Burgan and Lyons said.
“It’s good to have other churches working with us,” she said.
“There are so many churches in Monessen that want to provide help,” Burgan added. “We want to help in a way that is not a threat to them.
“We’ve also learned not everyone comes to church, so we needed to find a place in the community where we can do this. What better way to do it than through coffee.”
The pastor said he envisions the shop also becoming “a hub of communication. There are a lot of great things that are happening in the city, and we’re hoping through the coffee shop, we can be a place where people want to come.”
This is the first such shop that the two have launched, but they are planning to add more. They favor the Mon Valley, where Burgan grew up.
“It’s our hearts’ desire to really bring hope back to the Mon Valley,” he said. “We plan to go into communities there, but won’t go into towns that have coffee shops.
“There is nothing more devastating to a parent than to see kids strike out in school. Kids need a little extra help. We believe hope can change a community.”
Monessen was a logical first location.
“We (Christian Center Church) have been volunteering in Monessen with the libraries for the past 10 or 11 years,” Lyons said. “It was an easy fit working with connections we already had.”
Although the pair work well together, Burgan gave the lion’s share of credit to Lyons.
“She’s really running this shop. She is really the heartbeat,” the pastor said.
Lyons said His Place was a proverbial beehive the first week it was operating, then slowed a bit. But as more people become aware of the shop’s presence, business should accelerate.
The menu features coffee, of course, plus espresso drinks, frozen drinks, cold drinks, iced drinks, tea and hot chocolate. Breakfast sandwiches are available.
New patrons will likely include students from Douglas Education Center, which will begin a new semester Monday. Students who display their Douglas ID will get a free cookie.
She supervises six employees at the shop, including three baristas: her son Alex, plus Ashley Cox and Sianna Selciano. But Lyons helps to oversee much more.
“Above all,” she said, “we want the community to feel loved, and realize that hope exists even in the times we’re living in.”