Arts & Entertainment

The Urban ‘Sip brews hope for Jackson

-Abbie Walker, Editor

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The Urban ‘Sip, the latest addition to We Will Go Ministries, is more than just a coffee shop—it’s a place for discipleship.

We Will Go is a Christian ministry started by David and Amy Lancaster almost ten years ago and is dedicated to sharing the love of Christ with those in downtown Jackson by meeting physical and spiritual needs.

After the old YMCA on Farish Street shut down, the city of Jackson decided to give the space to WWG for them to expand their ministry. While most of the building is used for youth outreach, one section has been turned into the Urban ‘Sip coffee shop.

The idea developed after the Lancasters saw a similar concept while on a mission trip in India. The Lord soon confirmed that it was meant to be, and volunteers helped renovate the space into the inviting and colorful hangout spot that it is today.

The goal of the coffee shop is to disciple those in the area, as well as showcase the products made by those involved with We Will Go Arts. WWG Arts is a woodworking ministry that enables those in the downtown community to have work experience, as well as be mentored by WWG missionaries.

The Urban ‘Sip became a way for those handmade wood items to be better displayed for sale. WWG missionary Audrey Bennett called it a “sale shop with coffee,” because the primary hope is for customers to see how people are being changed by God’s work in WWG Arts.

Products for sale include wooden fish, crosses, and stars, as well as picture frames, Mississippi silhouettes, coasters, and fruits of the Spirit wall hangings. All proceeds from the coffee and art help to continue the ministry of WWG.

The Urban ‘Sip is also an extension of discipleship, as more neighbors are soon to be trained to work as baristas. The coffee shop is starting off slow since it opened its doors about a month ago, so only WWG missionaries and interns are working there as of now, but the hope is to get more of the community involved soon.

Ultimately, the goal is to “teach people to trust Jesus with their money and their lives.”

The Urban ‘Sip, located on 806 N. Farish St., is currently open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to noon, but WWG plans to extend the hours to the afternoon in the near future. A 10 percent discount is also offered for those who bring a student ID.

Some signature drink options include “The Grizzly Bear,” with cinnamon and honey, and “Mocha Spice.” There is also an eggnog-flavored beverage available for the holiday season.

Bennett, who has been heading up the project of the Urban ‘Sip, wants to add more to the menu, including tea and more food options.

“The plan is to expand,” she said. “We want to be open for lunch and be a fully-functioning café.”

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Just like the community coffee shop in India that WWG has been using as their model, Bennett said she wants the Urban ‘Sip to be a “peaceful place,” a place of joy where people can come and feel safe and feel loved.

The goal is for visitors to be encouraged, to mix with other people, especially those that may not share similar backgrounds or cultures, and speak life into them.

“We want people to end up ‘fuller’ than when they came in,” said Bennett.

Bennett also said she envisions worship taking place out in front of the shop on Farish Street and for there to be open mic nights that encourage the creativity and talents of her Jackson neighbors to be shared.

But customers and neighbors aren’t the only ones being impacted by the new business.

“I’m definitely learning more about connecting with people and loving people,” said WWG missionary Stephen Gothard, who works as one of the baristas at the Urban ‘Sip. “I also want to learn more about making coffee and what it looks like to have a business where the central focus is Christ.”

“I like it being a place for discipleship and for people to meet up,” said WWG missionary Ali Stewart. “I like it being Christ-centered and how relationships can be built here.”

Anyone is welcome to come, enjoy a cup of coffee, and get to know someone new. The Urban ‘Sip is a testimony of how Jackson is being restored, and We Will Go invites all to come and take part in what the Lord is doing in their community.

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