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Christ with a cruller: Starter church plans coffeehouse that would double as a place of worship on Hyde Park Avenue in Jamaica Plain

Site of new coffeehouse in Jamaica Plain

The new coffeehouse will go behind the blue grate.

The Public Church, which now holds services at the Fenway Community Center, is planning to open a coffeehouse at 180-190 Hyde Park Ave. in Jamaica Plain, one that will serve as its place of worship on alternate Sunday evenings.

Church pastor Amanda Oicle goes before the Boston Licensing Board on Wednesday to formally request a food-service license for the Public Coffee Co., which would have daily hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. It would join the Well as a religiously oriented coffeehouse in Boston.

On a page for the Wesleyan-affiliated church, Oicle describes how the coffeehouse would be a center of the church life when not simply brewing up coffee for the general public:

If you’re used to attending a church, Public Church might not be what you’re used to. First, we will meet in a coffee shop. Second, sitting around tables and discussing Scripture is a priority for us. Third, we want to be a missional family, which means we are all about empowering everyone to be ambassadors for Christ- to take the Good News into our community so others can be reconciled to God.

The church/coffeehouse would be next to another "church plant" that Oicle has started at 182 Hyde Park Ave.

"Church plants" are part of an effort by evangelicals in the rest of the country, going back at least 20 years, to conquer a supposedly godless Boston for Christ - under a definition that often does not consider Catholics or members of non-evangelical Protestant denominations such as Congregationalists, Episcopalians or Unitarians as truly Christian. And never mind all those atheists that throng our streets and universities.

As one such group in Georgia puts it:

The people of Boston are intellectual, educated, liberal and Godless.

Or as a local evangelical in America's spiritual graveyard writes, in pleading with evangelicals in the rest of the country to become missionaries here:

While Harvard University stands at the pinnacle of academic prestige, it also unashamedly barreling forward in a secularist worldview that would make its founders fume.

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Comments

The people of Boston are intellectual, educated, liberal and Godless

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And proud of it!

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Absolutely. I look forward to their coffee cult failing miserably. People in Boston are very aware of Christianity. The majority have rejected it which is why churches are fortunately being turned into something useful like condos all over town.

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..."[I]ntellectual, educated, liberal and Godless"!

Can you believe they let me register to vote down here? ;)

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Are you telling me we've been in their thoughts and prayers for years? Since for many that seems to be the absolute most they're willing to do for another person, I'm a bit flattered!

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There is this persistent misperception among evangelical communities that Atheists are simply ignorant of God, Jesus, the Gospel. That's the only possible explanation that they can see for anyone not believing their "good news" - just haven't been proselytized enough!

It is almost like their drugs are so yummy and addictive to them that they cannot possibly fathom anyone just saying no to them.

Maybe this coffeehouse experiment will mean that some of them will learn that many if not most atheists are atheists because they know all about their theology - and have rejected it. Some people enjoy engaging with people like this to learn more about them, while still not buying it. That isn't a bad thing, just not the thing they are expecting.

FWIW, I dearly love the Well Coffeehouse and will continue to go there. Very friendly, welcoming, and I am happy to support their community-building and service missions.

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lest ye be judged

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If you want to try to plant a church in JP, you ought to have a compost bin and serve kombucha. But whatever.

Unless they try to claim that their coffeeshop is a church and tax exempt, in which case they can fuck alllll the way off.

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Unless they try to claim that their coffeeshop is a church and tax exempt, in which case they can fuck alllll the way off.

It doesn't work that way. The portion being used as a coffeeshop will be taxed as such. There are some examples of churches trying to claim a whole commercial property as tax exempt (for example a church owned mattress store in JP with a small worship area, and a church with commercial storefronts in its building), only to be told by the DOR (which oversees taxation for the cities and towns) that the commercial portions of their properties are subject to taxation. The same goes for commercial concerns in other non-profits like universities (food vendors, restaurants, and school bookstores) and hospitals (gift shop, the hospital bar).

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I assume DOR would be on the case …

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Or a smoke and a pancake
or a flapjack and a cigarette
or a cigar and a waffle
or a pipe and a crepe

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A 21st C. Eucharist: Java and a donut.

Thinking about Hare Krishnas the other day,
And how they were criticized for proselytizing away,
I realize that Christians who do the same,
With praise for their tracts are just playing game.
But by any name or sway, it’s just religious business,
Where the profit and prophets, are money and maybe a little bit of happiness.

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but your metre belongs in Purgatory.

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Problem is that too many people want to prevent others from reaching it.

Hell was created by the folks who want to keep others out of Heaven.

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Try spending some energy to come up with something cute. It’s easy to criticize. It it takes courage and commitment to come up with something better than a whine.

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I saw Jesus in the window
Watching me with icicle eyes
The freezing rain nourished my pain
The way Mary does when she cries

I saw Jesus in a slice of toast
The crust made a beautiful frame
Butter dripped down like blood from his brow
And angels whispered my name

I saw Jesus in a cup of Joe
His face was a swirl in the foam
Day-old crullers, two for a buck
In the graveyard I call home

I'll open the window and let in the rain
That's the kind of person I am
And the next time I see him in a slice of toast
I'm going to cover Jesus with jam

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Ironic that it takes a Jewish man's endeavor to get a bit of Christian poetry competition going.

Thank you Adam.

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... it has been 6 years since my last jelly-filled.

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That's not just a sin, it's a crime!

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sounds like a mainstream Protestant denomination to me.

(By the way, Unitarians no longer consider themselves to be a Christian denomination.)

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In a way that Congregationalists, say, are not.

Thanks for the update on Unitarians. What I don't know about Christianity could fill several books.

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What I don't know about Christianity could fill several books.

Same here, and I'm Catholic.

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…. Unitarians are not uniform in their beliefs. At least that’s what the Unitarians I know tell me. The Unitarian Universalists seem to be the most open minded. Apparently they accept all beliefs among the members of their congregations, including non belief.
I went to a service at King’s Chapel some years ago, which from my understanding, is a more conservative congregation that doesn’t or didn’t at the time allow gay clergy. For all I could tell, I was attending a high church Anglican service. The preacher in fancy robes and churchy music. Prayers. An altar. The person I went with was from a progressive congregation that focused mainly on humanitarian works and was turned off by the formality.

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The church itself is 17th-18th century Church of England. The theology is Unitarian. The liturgy is pretty much 1780s Anglican, with a few things changed to reflect Unitarian theology (ie, no Trinity nor prayers directed specifically to Jesus) and references to the king of England removed. The church has a pretty decent history of commitment to humanitarian works and social justice (e.g., they were feeding Boston’s homeless 50+ years ago) albeit in sort of a bland way. It has had out gay clergy.

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The reverend at the time I was there, Carl, I think, seemed a good guy despite the awe inspiring C of E get up. I introduced myself to him after the service as my mother had known him in college. He exclaimed,”Oh yes, D.! I remember her well!”
Then he leaned close and whispered, “We lived together, you know!”
In fact, they shared a communal house with about 20 other students back when men were not permitted on the second floor where the women’s bedrooms were. He and I laughed and so did she when I told her.

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I know Carl. He had a reputation for “taking in strays,” for welcoming people who had felt that they didn’t fit into their prior church for one reason or another. Many former Catholics in the crowd back then if I recall correctly. He has never seemed bothered by the fact that I am not personally a religious believer in any usual sense and always made it clear I was welcome in his church, just to enjoy the music, or listen to a sermon, or whatever.

It was kind of an amusing contrast with the over-the-top formality of the building and the liturgy.

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I'd be hard pressed to come up with a hole-ier food.

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But why don’t they focus their holy mission on …

Lynn, Lynn, City of Sin?

Are they afraid they won’t come out
the way they went in?

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A couple from North Carolina who planned to plant a church and end sin in Boston's "inner city" - what they described as Murder-pan, Glocks-bury, Death-chester and, yes, Roslindale and JP - all while living in the "Boston suburb" of Haverhill.

If you read the updates on their site, though, for some reason they gave up on that idea and started a church in Lawrence instead.

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… meet them.

LOL!

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Adam, this made my night. Many North Carolinians thought I needed saving when I lived in Durham many years ago, knowing I was one of ‘dem Evil Yankees.

I think I need to find this church and drop in one Sunday with some of my “heathen” friends….

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Is a den is inequity. The university employs a world renowned New Testament scholar, Bart Erhman, who does not call himself a Christian. Yet of all the Christians I've known, he knows more, and is more Christian, than the vast majority of them.

God moves in a mysterious way,
His Wonders to perform.

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Mattapan, especially, is at the very south edge of Boston city limits, nothing "inner" about it.

(not to mention, all of the areas they list have a large number of churches already in them)

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I worked at a brain injury rehab in Lynn in 2003-2004. The program was locked, but was legally administered as a nursing home rather than a psychiatric hospital. Folks who had demonstrated consistent safety skills could participate in outings with and without staff, and independently travel to job training outside of the facility. Folks who were massive wanderers or disoriented could go on less frequent outings with higher staffing. Folks who had done unsafe or hugely disruptive things any time recently couldn't go anywhere.

Except, because this country loves protecting religion, we couldn't say no to religious folks coming into the building and providing programming, nor to religious folks taking folks out to their house of worship. It didn't really faze me when it was just normal chaplains coming in.

So a group that was planting churches in the area, also with very similar (maybe the same group?) rhetoric about this area being godless started a "church" in Lynn. They immediately scoped out our facility as having vulnerable people with poor judgment who would give anything to be allowed out of the place or have exciting visitors. So they came in all the time, bringing food, gifts, and setting up fundie church services. And they convinced a handful of people who had never previously been evangelical Christians to be interested in their church. They got the people to say, yes, they'd love to go to church that Sunday. And we were told we couldn't deny people leaving if it was with their clergy. Mind you, the normal clergy only 1) visited people who expressed interest in seeing someone of that faith and 2) completely deferred to us as to whether someone was safe to go out with them, and asked to have staff accompany people who weren't really safe to go out if they were taking them for a funeral or similar. So we decided that rather than have a lawsuit on our hands when someone ran off or decked someone at this "church," we would take them on our van with ample staff. I was generally the clinician working Sundays, so I would have to go with a couple of staff and our group of residents to sit in this place and listen to their horrible worship music while having blatantly homophobic stuff preached at me. #murica

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We (the public, state, government, whatever name to use) provided enough funding to make these outings easy on all and 2) if you could stand up when the homophobic words began and challenge them.

Fact: we are social beings.
Fact: being social has monetary costs
Fact: Homophobia is evil, it teaches hate.
Fact: The feelings and brain chemistry of hatred makes people mentally and physically sick.
Conclusion: The public can not afford to pay for creating hatred via clerics and churches.

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since my Karma ran over my Dogma.

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How they feel about Scientology.

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anti Christianity is alive and well. Hate does go both ways.

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I didn't realize alliteration is the anti-christ

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Our hearts and prayers are with you and your people as you suffer through this oppression.

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Writing as a Christian who knows that there is an undercurrent of distain for Christianity amongst commenters here (not Adam, who isn’t), I found the headline to be both cute and informative.

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I guess any mention of Christ that doesn't end with "Amen" is hateful.

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I’ve looked closely at the many variations and formulations of Christianity, the idea of a Christ, the history, the teleological and eschatological aspects of a religion where their lies a claim that Jesus of Nazareth became Divine.

Fantastic stories, beautiful stories, an embarrassment of riches of stories. That includes many horror stories and stories of terrorism.

But I’ve never found a story that talks about God laughing. Plenty of stories of an angry god, of sentimental god, but never down to Earth stories of that show us the Divine had a sense of humor.

Since all of these stories as made by human beings I have to conclude that the story makers, ancient and modern, were always afraid of the idea of Divinity with a sense of humor. Of Divinity that does not take itself too seriously.

What modern people can do to revive religions that have become massive weights pulling folks into narrow lanes of obedience and submission is to give to God the humor that God needs.

And please when using the term anti-Christianity the tell is in the manipulative whiny breath that expresses the ‘My way or the Hellway” belief system.

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…wait until you hear what some people who proclaim to be Christian are saying!

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I was really surprised to see that the author has worked as a journalist professionally, because they clearly didn't do much research. This is full of sweeping generalizations, devoid of critical thought and filled with false information. This leads me to believe that the author didn't do much research and wrote through a very biased lens - both are not so great.

I happen to live in JP and know the owner so let's clear a few things up. Public Coffee is a coffee house with a mission to create a top-notch coffee and space for those in the community to work and connect with one another. It's not a church and there is no plan for a church to meet there. It's a coffee house and a business full stop. Public Church meets in another city (Fenway). I see how the similar names could be confusing, but they are separate entities. There is a church next door to Public Coffee, but that's not the owner of Public Coffee's church. The author even got the address wrong for Public Coffee, lumping in the address of the place next door. Please do more basic research before reporting fiction as fact. I'm not a big fan of fake news.

Personally, I'm looking forward to having more great coffee in the area (they are using Broadsheet Beans!!!) and more work space as it's hard to get a seat at any coffee shop during the day in JP.

Spread love, not hate...and coffee!!

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When I first saw the licensing-board agenda item for a coffeehouse a block away from the Dunkin' Donuts (specifically, an address of 180 - 190 Hyde Park Ave., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130), I thought that was interesting enough to write up all by itself, even had a bad-pun headline all set about a "coffee war brewing on Hyde Park Avenue in Jamaica Plain."

Oh, ho, I slay myself!

But then I wondered: Who's this "Public Coffee Company, LLC" listed as the proposed license holder? Not because I was particularly suspicious but because I was curious. And, OK, nosy. Yes, I'm a reporter. But I repeat myself.

So I went to the Secretary of State's corporate records database, entered "Public Coffee Company" and got back this page.

As required by state law, Public Coffee Company, LLC listed both a "resident agent" and a "manager." For resident agent, the company listed "PUBLIC CHURCH BOSTON" with a Fenway address and for manager, "AMANDA OICLE."

Oicle, Oicle, where have I seen that name before? Oh, right, on the licensing-board agenda that I had called up five minutes earlier, where she's listed as the proposed manager of Public Coffee at 180-190 Hyde Park Ave., you remember, the one a block away from the Dunkin' Donuts and all.

Hmm, that was interesting, you don't see many churches listed as the resident agent of a coffee house (fun fact: Another item on the agenda is for the Well, another religiously flavored coffeehouse in East Boston). So I pressed on.

I did a Google search on "Public Church Boston," which led me to the church Web site. Clicked on the Leadership tab and, well, hello Amanda Oicle!

But what's her church about? They have other convenient tabs, including one titled What to Expect, where, when I clicked on it, I read:

We will be meeting at Fenway Community Center (1282 Boylston Street, entrance on Jersey Street) until we find the location for Public Coffee, which will be the hub for community life at Public Church. ...

If you’re used to attending a church, Public Church might not be what you’re used to. First, we will meet in a coffee shop. Second, sitting around tables and dicussing [sic] Scripture is a priority for us.

So that's how I did my research (there was much, much more, involving church planting in Boston, but you didn't ask about that, which is too bad, because it's an interesting two-hour rabbit hole to go down). With the links I've just provided up above, you can follow my footsteps, at home, even!

Speaking of research, you might want to do some yourself: Fenway is not "another city." Like Jamaica Plain, it's a neighborhood in the city of Boston, which is why the coffee-house application for a "common victualer's" license is before the Boston Licensing Board.

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If you continue your Googling of Pastor Oicle, you will see that she is part of the leadership at Awaken City Church, 184 Hyde Park Ave., yes, the church that will be next door to the coffee house (she is listed as pastor of the Public Church "daughter church" - which gets back to my other research effort on church planting, because the way they typically work is they set up one church in what they consider a Godless area, then "plant" additional churches nearby).

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Why is your public agent a Church? I realize that Evangelical Christians (and many evangelicals of various religions are able to justify lying since their actions are for "god."

Notice the page from the Public Church website that references "And, once Public Coffee is in operation there will be opportunities to volunteer there, too!"

Do you even live in Boston? Calling Fenway another city?

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I realize that Evangelical Christians (and many evangelicals of various religions are able to justify lying since their actions are for "god."

...when she said "stop lurking behind your Jimi Hendrix font!"

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