The House of Love Cafe nourishes body and spirit

The cafe's music showcases new Christian recording artists.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Just past noon one day last week, diners enjoyed their meals to a background of soothing music at the House of Love Cafe while manager Jan Johnson offered free refills on the coffee.
The cafe is a recent addition to the list of downtown eateries, opening last October in the basement of New Beginnings Outreach Ministries, 322 Wick Ave., in the former Pilgrim Collegiate Church adjoining the Youngstown State University Campus.
The cafe is designed to provide a quiet Christian environment. The menu quotes Proverbs 3:5-6, which urges people to trust in the Lord.
Great for students: It's a great place for students to meet, eat or study, says the Rev. Kathryn Adams, the director of YSU's Protestant Campus Ministry, which rents office space in the church building.
"It's going pretty well," said Mrs. Johnson. "We've had a lot of support from the community."
She and her husband, Arthur, who cooks and co-manages, used to run a restaurant in Los Angeles. They're members of New Beginnings, whose slogan -- The House of Love -- became the cafe's name.
"The only complaint about the food is there's too much," Mrs. Johnson said with a laugh.
The vegetable soup and chili are big, but people can have things their way. The cafe is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Lunch and breakfast are served all day. Want a hamburger at 10 a.m. or bacon and eggs in the afternoon? No problem. Mrs. Johnson said the cafe has also catered events.
New music: The background music is by new recording artists who have put out CDs and are trying to reach larger audiences.
Mrs. Johnson said the cafe is also trying to provide an alternative place to meet for Christians, and especially Christian singles, who don't want to hang out in bars.
Last weekend, after Gospel Expo at the MetroPlex in Girard, people came back to the church to hear gospel music from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The event was held in the basement adjoining the cafe, which has a stage. That's the area where Protestant Campus Ministry plans to have the "TGIF" coffeehouse one Friday a month.
Mrs. Johnson said the church plans to have one or two evening events a month.
Elder Wayne M. Anderson Jr. of New Beginnings Outreach Ministries said the after-hours events were another way for the church to do what its name says.
"The first one, it was just so beautiful," he said. "People were hugging."
The draw: The church now draws about one hundred people a week, mostly younger adults. Those younger adults said there was a need for more social events, Anderson said.
The church has been in the building for about a year, and members have been praying for guidance for the direction the church should take to reach out to the community, Anderson added.
The church will also have revival services at 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and at 6 p.m. Jan 30 to Feb. 1 with Donna Napolitan from Mount Calvary Pentecostal Church.
Sunday school is at 9:45 a.m., and worship is at 10:45 a.m. There is Bible study at noon and 6 p.m. Wednesdays, and prayer at noon and 6 p.m. Mondays. The noon programs were scheduled for those working the second shift who can't attend evening programs.
Anderson said it's what the church is doing to keep its programming open.

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