Prayers answered as church cafe opens up

AL FRESCO Ray Harris, 64, Julia Whitehorn, 53, and Jack Harris, 13, eat outdoors at the cafe. Picture: Malcolm Wells (122498-3277)
AL FRESCO Ray Harris, 64, Julia Whitehorn, 53, and Jack Harris, 13, eat outdoors at the cafe. Picture: Malcolm Wells (122498-3277)
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YEARS of planning have paid off with the opening of a new church-led coffee shop for the community.

Customers have been enjoying new tastes and aromas at the Pure Ground Coffee Shop and Community Cafe next to Milton Park.

Leaders at the Langstone Church have been working on a plan to set up a coffee shop at the heart of the Milton since January 2009.

The inviting smell of coffee beans has been enjoyed by customers since the shop opened on Monday.

The congregation’s vision was to create a relaxed meeting place for the community and to provide ethical and healthy food and drink, as well as a community meeting point.

While plans for the cafe were being worked on, discussions were held with Portsmouth City Council – and Milton Village Hall was pin-pointed as the ideal location.

Church leaders formed a partnership with the Milton Village Community Association, which was planning to build a second larger hall on the premises, after putting the idea to them.

Church members contributed significant sums of money towards the project after the proposal to build a cafe received overwhelming support in November 2009.

Fears over the build were raised after a business plan revealed the estimated cost of fulfilling the project was much higher than expected.

The association went ahead with the village hall extension thanks to money from the city council and Langstone Church.

And Veolia Environmental Trust awarded a grant towards the cafe after an application in 2011.

The grant was added to the £20,000 generated by Langstone Church and £17,000 from the city council to finance the build, which was carried out by Vale Builders.

Churchgoers were kept up to date with the project’s progress through regular updates on the church’s website.

Steve Macfarlane, director at Pure Ground cafe and pastor at the church, says all profits from the cafe will go straight back into the community.

He said: ‘Religion is not forced on anybody at Pure Ground.

‘The idea is that if people want to ask for help, or find out about church activities, then we will make that easy.

‘But if people don’t want that, they can just come and enjoy fantastic food and drink in a lovely environment.

‘And one thing that is important to emphasise is that all of its profits go back into the community through Milton Village Hall.

‘No profit goes back to the church – the cafe is run for the community.’