Thomas Road Café Cultivates Community and Supports Local Charity Efforts

The Lion & Lamb Café in Thomas Road Baptist Church is now on its second month of its latest mission focused campaign, “Coffee for a Cause.”

Coffee for a Cause is a volunteer run program on Sunday mornings where the café serves free brewed coffee in exchange for a donation of any amount. One hundred percent of profits go to the charity of the month.

In its first month, the program raised over $1,500 for the Salvation Army. This month’s charity is Parkview Missions, a local charity that focuses on providing food and any relief necessary to people in the surrounding areas.

Tim Grandstaff, missions director for Thomas Road, pushed for this campaign in hopes that the café, a longtime staple of the TRBC experience, could highlight and promote the focus on missions in the congregation.

When he moved his church from a traditionally styled building to a complex in Green Hall in 2006, Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. wanted the entryway to be a welcoming center where guests and members could have space for fellowship. His son Jonathan Falwell took that concept a step further, reaching out to Debi Baker to manage a café that his father wanted to include in the “main street” lobby area.

Before she began managing the Lion & Lamb Café, Baker and her husband worked with Thomas Road in different capacities for over 29 years, equipping her to bring the community of TRBC to the cafe.

What started as a kiosk and a cooler filled with drinks to create the communal “main street” environment Falwell envisioned, is now the fully functional coffee shop with sandwiches, salads, sweets and an assortment of coffee and espresso drinks.

“He wanted a place where people could come sit, drink a cup of coffee, have Bible study, just socialize,” Baker said, “you know, meet with friends and have those get-togethers with each other.”

Baker has watched many of her baristas complete undergraduate and graduate programs while on staff. The café and its customers have grown with those who work there, including a plethora of regulars – the heart of the business.

The café’s main clientele is the Liberty Christian Academy staff and students and TRBC attendees and staff, but Baker hopes that Liberty University students and the local community will make the café a staple study and hang out spot once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

COVID-19 has changed the way nearly every business operates, and the Lion and the Lamb is no exception. Upon realizing they would have to be shut down from March until August, the café donated all of their perishables to Salvation Army, Daily Bread and other local charities.

Along with donating what they already had, Baker and the café’s staff bought baskets and filled them with different snacks to create packages for people suffering financially. Grandstaff has served at the church in different capacities for 27 years and firmly believes it is the duty of those who serve God to serve others.

“Our ministry is what we do in the church, using our gifts and talents to glorify the Lord, and our mission is what we do outside of the walls of the church,” Grandstaff said. “We don’t have a choice to pick and choose one or the other, we have a mandate to do both.”

Nadia Vires is a Feature Reporter. Follow her on Twitter at @nadiavires.

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