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?