FALMOUTH — Churches have always been positive gathering places in communities. Now one resident wants to turn a local church into a place where difficult conversations can comfortably take place.
Mathew Barnett, a town resident who attends the West Falmouth Baptist Church on Mountain Road, is launching the town’s first Lifetree Cafe at the church in October.
The cafe, part of a nationwide organization, is a place for people to gather and talk about things that aren’t always easy to discuss.
Barnett said he got the idea to launch the program after he saw it in action at the South Lewiston Baptist Church. Some of the conversations the Lewiston church facilitated, he said, included turning an argument into something positive, stories of individuals who went through difficult or trying events in their lives, raising autistic children, and sex trafficking.
“It’s stuff people don’t want to talk about,” said Barnett, who will facilitate the Falmouth program. “It’s gut-wrenching.”
Lifetree Cafe programs are held weekly; Barnett’s group will be meeting 6:30-7:30 p.m. every Thursday. The group will initially be limited to church members and their families and friends as they “work out how it works” and get comfortable with the program, in what Barnett called a “soft opening.”
In the winter, Barnett said the group hopes to move to space in the Mason-Motz Activity Center and make the program available to anyone interested.
“We want to feel comfortable running this program, have our church comfortable with the program,” he said.
The first conversation the Falmouth program will host will be on Oct. 6, and the topic will be whether the religious faith of the president of the United States matters. The structure will be small group settings of up to five people, and everyone will have time to speak.
“It’s structured around keeping the groups very small, so that way there’s better conversation,” he said.
If the program is successful, Barnett said, he hopes people from other towns will attend, and he would also be willing to open other cafes in the future.
But for now, Barnett and the others involved will focus on Falmouth, where the message the cafe will convey, he said, is all are welcome, all ideas are welcome, and “we’re all in this together.”
The West Falmouth Baptist Church on Mountain Road will soon host Lifetree Cafe, a community gathering place where people can talk about issues facing their town and the world.