Church in Canada installs alternative to bar in basement

Story and Photo by Jenny Jelen/Sudbury Northern Life Staff
Story and Photo by Jenny Jelen/Sudbury Northern Life Staff

PLUSH leather couches line the room, chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and the stage is in perfect view from the pool table.

One room over, retro pin ball machines are plugged into the wall, next to the massive air hockey table. Tucked away in the corner is a gaming system, hooked up to a giant TV. Walking into The Underground Café, one would never guess they were stepping into a church basement.

The comfortable vibe was exactly what Bob Deppisch had envisioned for the space. The last thing the senior pastor at Grace Family Church wanted was to come across as “boring.”

“I want my kids to say ‘Wow, we have the coolest youth group,’” Deppisch said.

Along with housing the church’s regular Sunday morning youth services, the coffeehouse is also open Friday nights for anyone who wants to come out. What was originally started for youth and young adults has turned into a safe place for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Deppisch said on any given Friday, some 40 people will hang out at the venue. When bands come in to play or artists take the stage, standing room only is all that’s left.

The rules are guests have to be at least 16 years old, and no drugs or alcohol are permitted.

“It’s a nice alternative to the bar,” Deppisch said. “You get that feel of a fun place.”

The difference is The Underground Café is completely “safe” for those who have dealt with addictions, or just want to stay away from the bar scene. With a professional background in correctional institutions, Deppisch said everyone can come out knowing they can have clean fun.

“I can spot trouble three miles away,” Deppisch said with a laugh. As long as patrons are interested in following the vision of the space they are welcome, no matter what sort of background they have.

Aside from keeping with the simple rules, patrons are welcome to take advantage of the lounge, experience events like live bands and poetry readings and make themselves comfortable on any of the games and features.

It doesn’t end there, though. The mission of the café goes on to welcome people from its home in the Donovan and beyond.

“I wanted to be relevant to the community,” Deppisch said. “There’s nothing religious down here.”

In fact, the space is a prime example of the church’s dedication to promoting relationships over religion. In the space, fellowship and community are practised and promoted.

“It’s all about relationships … no religion,” Deppisch said. “We try to live up to that.”

The community is invited to take in The Underground Café Friday nights from 8 p.m. until midnight. Games and activities are free, and food and beverages are available for purchase.

Artists and groups interested in performing are welcome to contact the café to enquire about stage time. Source: Northern Life

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