At The Cairn, visitors can expect live music, local art and plenty of conversation.
And, of course, a good cup of coffee.
A project of Calvary Christian Church, The Cairn is designed to be a place to bring community members together and offer local teenagers a safe place to hang out.
“It just kind of evolved and snowballed into the vision it is now,” said Dan Jackson, project manager for The Cairn.
Jackson moved to Winchester in January from Port Huron, Mich., to oversee the project during the renovation phase and develop programming for the shop after it opens. Originally, Calvary Christian Church leased the building at 17 S. Main St. to use as church offices. Previously, space was used at the church, but growth at Calvary Christian School made it difficult to house everything in one building. When church officials realized that the space wasn’t well-suited for that purpose, they instead moved the offices to their current location on Court Street, leaving an empty building.
“That started the whole, ‘What if?’ question. What could we do to add value to downtown Winchester?” Jackson said.
The Cairn will operate as a non-profit business, and church members hope to eventually generate enough income from the coffee house to turn the building’s second floor into a teen center. After 10 years teaching high school, Jackson said he understands how stressful life can be for teens.
“Working with them for so long opened my eyes to the stuff they struggle with on a daily basis,” Jackson said.
Although no formal plans have been made for the teen center, Jackson said he hopes community members will volunteer to mentor the teens. Building relationships is the primary goal, Jackson said.
The Cairn also will be run by volunteers. Anyone interested in working at the shop can contact Jackson and complete a volunteer application. The goal, Jackson said, is to make the coffee house, and eventually the teen center, community projects, not just Calvary Christian Church projects.
“This is not a Calvary Christian Church youth group thing. We’ve got a youth pastor, we’ve got a youth group,” Jackson said.
In fact, the name The Cairn was chosen because Jackson said it reflected the church’s goal of community involvement. The name comes from the Scottish Gaelic word “carn,” a pile of stones used to mark the site of an important event. The term also is used in hiking for the rocks hikers leave behind to mark the trail.
“A lot of times, people just use them as informal trail markers, especially in an area where it’s not so clear,” Jackson said.
Hikers also have a tradition of adding rocks to the cairn at the top of the trail “just to add their mark,” Jackson said.
The pile contains contributions from people of different ages, genders and backgrounds, a theme that Jackson wants to carry over into the coffee shop.
“There’s so many ways people can get involved, no matter what their gifts and passions are,” Jackson said.
There is no firm opening date for the coffee shop, but Jackson said he hopes to start serving customers this fall. Originally, the shop was slated to open Labor Day weekend, but the building required more renovation than organizers initially thought that it would.
“We started hitting snags with the amount of work and costs,” Jackson said.
In addition to his career as a high school teacher, Jackson also served as a worship leader at his church in Michigan. He recently completed a master’s degree in ministerial leadership, and feels he is uniquely suited to working in the coffee house atmosphere, thanks to his experience with both music and mentoring youths. Eventually, he hopes to find community volunteers to offer music lessons to students at the youth center and to offer open mic nights at the coffee house.
“This really was almost a perfect storm of opportunity,”¿Jackson said.
For more information on The Cairn or becoming a volunteer, contact the church office at 744-0817. For more information on Calvary Christian Church, visit www.calvarychristian.net.
Contact Rachel Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org.