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Monday, April 4, 2011

A Visit to Munroe Street - East Coast International Church

Maybe a year and a half ago, giant banners went up on Munroe Street just outside the MBTA Central Square commuter rail stop. These banners were very professional looking and said "East Coast International Church" on them. I didn't think much of it at the time. I have been torn lately with the number of churches opening downtown. We have one on the corner of Willow and Blake and another rather large congregation in a building behind 7 Central that you access from Union Street. LynnArts even houses a church on Sundays in the Black Box Theatre. Seeing another open their doors on Munroe was not exactly the new development I was hoping to see. That was until I visited with Kurt Lange, head pastor at East Coast International Church.

Talk about a man with a vision for Lynn and his congregation. He has lofty goals and by the success of his church to date (just celebrating their 10th anniversary), I believe he is going to achieve them.

First, let me give you a better description of the building I am talking about. You have probably seen the giant Munroe Lofts building. It's yellow in color and is directly across from the Food Project's garden. You look at this building when you exit The Blue Ox. I always thought it was lofts the entire way across, but only half is actually converted to lofts. The other half belongs to East Coast International Church and is being cleaned up daily, piece by piece, by their several volunteers and hired contractors.

The storefront is going to be turned into a functional coffee shop. Kurt believes, like most of us, that going to Vinnin Square's Starbucks to hang out and get work done is ridiculous for a Downtown of our size. There should be somewhere comfortable to sit and work. He hopes to bring this to Munroe Street. This can help him and his congregation provide job training as well as plug a significant hole for our downtown and put another storefront in that will have general use for the community at large.

Behind the storefront is a gigantic room where he currently seats 200+ for Sunday services and several other events during the week. It's a very impressive space.

On the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors, there is currently nothing. Floor by floor they are cleaning it up and hope to create more space for various community needs including a top floor that will someday be a gathering place for the community at large including a small stage area. The view of Downtown Lynn from this vantage point is spectacular.

What do you think? This the right place for ECIC? Do you like the idea of a coffee shop in that storefront? What would you like to see in the community space on the upper floor?

-Corey

15 comments:

  1. I don't know. A coffee shop would be great there, especially if it were open in that "hole" between breakfast and lunch joints closing, and dinner places opening.

    But being of a "minority religion," I worry about the following: Are they a liberal enough church to make all community members feel welcome in their cafe? Will they have pamphlets and religious stuff around, which would make me feel a little uncomfortable, or would they run a secular coffee shop? If they have art and entertainment, would they censor?

    In any case, it sounds like they're doing a good job caring for the building and that they have good intentions. And I would defend any religious institution's right to advertise their faith as they see fit, and even to stick those pamphlets under my windshield, as much as the litter they cause drives me nuts. But as far as how I personally feel about it goes, I would have to know more about their denomination. I wouldn't want to personally support a coffee shop/church that gave to anti-choice organizations or anti-anything that I believe in freedom for.

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  2. I support everyone's right to pray and worship but I am not keen on the idea of a church taking up the space of what could be used for retail and/or restaurant.

    We have so many non-profit organizations in downtown Lynn. We need income generating, tax paying, destination pulling businesses. I support the church to gather and form their community but it would be better if they moved the church portion to the upper floors and allowed retail space on the sidewalk level.

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  3. Perhaps I wasn't clear. They are leaving the store front open for the coffee shop they intend to open and run. We're talking a real restaurant, won't feel church run at all. The church is in space well behind street view.

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  4. Then in that I have no objections. As long as their faith and beliefs do not create any type of exclusivity in the coffee shop and all can come to enjoy.

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  5. My god! Literally. Be happy someone is going to take up a store front in Lynn! The less empty the better. A church does nothing but good for the community no matter what faith.
    You need to start small. Baby steps.
    Realistically what stores you want and what stores go in may be worlds apart.

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  6. Hey Gestalt, Did you ever stop to think that places that you frequent like Turbine might create an exclusivity that say a painter and his crew may not feel comfortable stopping in for a beer after work. It may not be the intentions but it still happens. Lighten up and be realistic! The world does not turn around you.

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  7. I hope they sell great coffee, espresso, etc.. That is a need in DTL. Love thy neighbor as thyself is Jesus' second most important commandment. So hopefully the church can serve Jesus and the neighborhood well!!

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  8. I think it could be a great addition for those downtown who may frequent the place. I for one know I will not go, I usually have my coffee at home, but for the rest of you, if this is what you would like, then so be it, it is your downtown. One part of this story sticks out to me.......what have they been doing for the last 10 years? I also agree that something that creates tax revenue would help!......PD

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  9. They moved downtown a year and a half ago. The building was a disaster. I think they've been spending most of their time cleaning it up and brining it back to life. They were in Ingalls School for a while and maybe on Chestnut Street before that. Not sure.

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  10. If there is one thing I know about this church, coffee shop or not, everyone will feel comfortable when they walk in. You will not feel judged or feel like religion is being shoved down your throat. You will feel hope, even in a cup of coffee being passed to you. I was sexually abused for 10 years which led to drinking and drugs in my life. Anyone who has gone through these kinds of things can walk into ECIC and know something is different. You will be treated with respect no matter how you believe or what you look like. A coffee shop here,will be a quality coffee shop. Because I know them, trust me, it will be good coffee! Not junk you want to spill out onto the street! I am now a leader in my work and would gladly take my lap top to this coffee shop. Cant wait.

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  11. I used to volunteer in their Food Pantry while at Ingalls. I saw dozens of hungry families get a little bite on a weekly basis. I saw kids picked up from the street and given tutoring, food and a sense of purpose. I saw hurting people dance with newfound joy on Sunday. It's been 10 years, but not in hiding, just full and undeniable devotion to the community of Lynn. With this new space, they'll be able to do even more.

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  12. I never said or thought the world revolved around me nor did I allude to it. Dramatic much? I believe I said that it should be an environment ALL people feel welcome (not "ME"). I think that is a fair statement to make and an attitude that we all should strive for... open acceptance of all walks of life.

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  13. As a member of ECIC I can tell you ALL ARE WELCOME :o) I know a lot of people, including me, who, when they started attending ECIC, couldn't help but be transformed from brokenness, lonliness, being afraid or addicted. So much goodness stems from our church, it's hard for me to understand someone who wouldn't want this salvation. So with that said, you won't be beat over the head with it, but it will sure bring joy to your life when you let it in! It's up to you how you want your brain to think and your heart to see. We leave the condemning and judgement to God, that is His job. Our job is to show love to everybody! A coffee shop is a great vision! Amen!

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  14. I see these comments are old now- We are still here - 2 Services on Sun. morning now. 10:00 or 11:15. Come and see God working.

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