By LYDIA BERGLAR
Last year, A Hand Up Ministry wanted to utilize the front porch of the Hope House Cafe in a way that would offer hospitality and fellowship to the community. Rex Mayo, the ministry’s founder, said, “I just love the porch. We thought, ‘What could we do with the porch?’ Hand Up has our specialized work, but beyond that, we want to benefit the community as a whole.”
The group decided to host Saturday evening events simply called “The Porch” with snacks and live music. The gatherings continued through spring and summer of 2022, and this summer, they’re bringing The Porch back for four Saturday evenings with the possibility of future events.
The scheduled evenings are July 8, July 15, August 5, and August 12 from about 6-8 p.m. Mayo said that people can come and go as they like, with live music starting around 6:15 each evening.
Mayo reported that last year, in addition to locals, visitors to the county who were staying on Lookout Mountain visited The Porch and one group from Jasper, Tenn. stopped by after dining at Maclemore. “It was a beautiful thing,” he said, “It was just so hot.”
The Hope House’s porch has since been closed in with heating and cooling added, so the team plans to see how the summer events go. If they go well, they might continue year round regardless of heat waves or cold temps.
Mayo explained that this summer, in addition to snacks and coffee, friends and partners of the ministry are preparing meals to offer attendees. Suggested donations of $10 will help cover costs and go to A Hand Up Ministry as a whole, but the primary purpose is to create a space for fellowship.
On July 8, Matt Adams of Trenton Ministry Center’s worship team will be playing music. The team plans to serve spaghetti, salad, and bread.
Chuck Carver and a team from Calvary Baptist Church will provide the music and food on July 15 and August 12, with Carolyn Lane singing on August 5. Mayo noted that Carver and Adams, both talented musicians, will have songs already selected but they will likely take requests.
“They’re all Christians, but we’ve left music choices open to them,” said Mayo, noting that it will not solely be gospel music.
Mayo’s vision is to offer a relaxing, relational space on Saturday evenings. He said, “If you want to stay close to Trenton on Saturday nights, there’s really no place to go sit around, drink coffee, have a snack, and enjoy music. I love the coffee shop with gentle music kind of environment, and that’s kind of what we’re aiming for. Sure, we’d love for people to get more connected to A Hand Up, but we just want the community to come hang out.”
While different from A Hand Up’s main work with those fighting addictions, The Porch fits into the ministry’s overall goal of relational evangelism. Mayo said, “It’s about, how can we better serve our community? We want to find that person who’s curled up on the couch and has no hope. We want to somehow connect with them and say, ‘There is hope. Let us connect you with someone who can help.’ The Porch is just a part of serving our community.”
Mayo noted that the events are open to people of all beliefs. “This is a safe place to come. You’ll be with Jesus people and hear the gospel, but it’s not going to be an in-your-face kind of way. That’s the way I picture Jesus being, just sitting with people where they are. And the early church, they didn’t have a building. They’d go from house to house, sharing the Word together, eating, and fellowshipping.”