10/13/2010 7:59:00 AM The Underground Local residents convert Delft fellowship hall to coffeehouse
GORDON KRAUSE AND Bob Ewert enjoy a cup of coffee and a bucket of popcorn over casual conversation during a Saturday evening at The Underground.
When Carson Mennonite Brethren Church in Delft closed its doors in 2005, the building in the center of Delft - shaped like the letter "M" - quietly sat empty for most of the next five years.
That began to change, though, last December - at least "underground."
Late last year, five couples from the Delft area, several who were former members of the church, got together and reopened the doors - or at least the doors to the church's former fellowship hall in the lower level. Over the next four months, they built a stage, built some tables, brought in some chairs and converted the former kitchen into a cafe-like coffee counter.
And in late April, "The Underground" was born.
"It's a double meaning - the 'ground' is for 'coffee grounds' and it's located 'underground,' " explains Lynette Ewert, one of the 10 people who have been instrumental in getting The Underground off the ground.
Today, people of all ages from around the area are congregating on Saturday nights at the former church's lower level for music, snacks, popcorn, pizza, coffee, pop, lattes, steamers and even a smoothie or two. The lighting is dimmed to offer a relaxing coffeehouse feel that one might find along the streets of New York City - but obviously far-removed from the congestion and hustle-and-bustle of the big city.
It is the key piece in a larger renaming of the building - Carson Meeting House. Oddly enough that name has come full circle. "Carson Meeting House" was a former name of Carson Mennonite Brethren Church. It was so named because organizers didn't like using the word "church" to identify their new building, built three miles from the current structure.
"Our goal is that people can come and meet here," says Elaine Kroeker, another of the 10 people who have been instrumental in resurrecting the building. "What we want is people from here and there and everywhere to come and meet here."
The upper levels of the "new" Carson Meeting House, remain intact and are open to other possible uses. But the coffeehouse, which has seen a considerable makeover, is taking center stage in its first year of operation.
And that is exactly what Bob and Lynette Ewert, Wes and Elaine Kroeker, Bill and Rachel Janzen, Gordon and Lori Krause and Lynn and Thomas Stoneking had in mind when they started the Underground just over nine months ago.
"We had been dreaming since (the church closed) of potential, possibilities and uses for the church," says Bob Ewert. "Then, in December, these five couples just kind of fell together and started meeting, throwing out ideas and thinking of potential uses of the church."
The focus is on trying to reach those who hadn't come to the church when it was in use by offering an alternative type of ministry that might be needed or valued in the community. And one of the first ideas suggested was a coffeehouse concept on Saturday nights.
For much more on The Underground, see the story in the Oct. 13 issue of the Cottonwood County Citizen on newsstands today.