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NJ megachurch opens café staffed by individuals with special needs to support clean water charity

Clean Water Café
The grand opening of Liquid Church's Clean Water Cafe, a nonprofit cafe located at their Parsippany, New Jersey campus. The ribbon cutting ceremony took place on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. |

A New Jersey megachurch has officially opened a coffee shop that will be staffed by individuals with special needs, and the proceeds from sales will go to charitable efforts to provide clean water to overseas communities. 

Liquid Church held a grand opening ceremony for its Clean Water Cafe at their Parsippany campus on Monday, with around 100 people, including Mayor James R. Barberio, in attendance.

The café will provide employment for adults with special needs such as Autism or Down syndrome, while also giving its proceeds to programs providing clean water to communities in Africa and Central America.

Brooke Stempert, communications manager for Liquid Church, described the café as “the marriage of two causes that are near and dear to us at Liquid Church.”

Clean Water Café
Liquid Church Lead Pastor Tim Lucas(L), Parsippany, New Jersey Mayor James R Barberio (C), and Liquid Church Executive Pastor Dave Brooks (R) at the ribbon cutting ceremony for Liquid Church's Clean Water Cafe on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. |

“Locally, the Clean Water Café will provide inclusive, supportive employment for all adults, including those with special needs such as Autism, Down syndrome and many others,” Stempert said.

“Then, as a nonprofit, all proceeds from the café will help provide clean water to those in need in Africa and Central America. Clean water is our global cause at Liquid Church, and through the café, we hope to increase our impact to provide clean water to those who need it most.”

Stempert described the ceremony as “amazing,” noting that the ribbon cutting included free coffee and breakfast, as well as a custom photo booth for visitors.

“At the Clean Water Cafe, we believe that people with Special Needs can change the world for good,” Stempert added. “We hope that our customers and supporters realize that as they enjoy their favorite coffee, they are changing the world with every sip.”

The opening of the café to the surrounding community was originally announced in early 2020, however, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the church to delay the grand opening.

In an interview with The Christian Post in 2020, Liquid Church Lead Pastor Tim Lucas explained that the coffeehouse was part of their overall ministry to people with special needs.

This includes support groups for parents of children with special needs, as well as hosting an annual “Night to Shine” prom and having a Buddy Program that involves assigning every child with special needs a buddy who is with them from fifth grade through high school, ensuring that they can participate in church events.

“In general, the church is 30 years behind culture when it comes to special needs. They don’t have the manpower and muscle even if they’re passionate about it,” Lucas told CP at the time.  

“What happened at Liquid was, millennials stepped up and said, ’We understand inclusion,’ so most of our buddy volunteers are in their 20s and 30s.”

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