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What we do

Sociologist Ray Oldenberg wrote a book called The Great Good Place, in which he explains the concept of what he calls “a third place.” This is referring to a place that has been essential in societies for countless generations, a place away from home and outside one’s place of work. That is why it’s called a “third place.” In most societies, the institutional church is not designed to fulfill this need, however, it is a crucial need that TRC is designed to fulfill. It is a space that fosters expression, connection and growth.

Crucial social movements have often had its beginnings in such places. Both the French Revolution and the Civil Rights movement in the 60’s began with conversations in salons and barbershops, which are often a great example of a Third Place. During the American Revolution, it was the local pub. By its design, a third place is set up to be an inviting gathering place for all. A place where someone walks in knowing they will be welcomed and belong. It never feels like a chore to spend time there. You can pop in and out quickly without much stress or planning. The atmosphere is designed to be a welcoming and inviting place for people from every income bracket. As a result, social hierarchy tends to be suspended. The wealthy and the poor are spending time together, and no one is pulling rank. The lack of pretense makes this a spot where people of different classes and cultures can mingle. In the third place, people are equals.

This is an important part of the mission of The Renewal Center, the belief that everyone has a seat at the table, the very principles of the Kingdom of God. A place where people can come who don’t have set agendas. It’s not so much a meeting, but a coming together. People come as they are, when they want, and leave just as easily. A third place is always neutral ground—no one has any obligation to be there. There are usually employees or owners, but patrons are there because they want to be (and ideally, even the employees are socializing while they work).

Conversation is the main focus of a third place. People come together for small talk, or to discuss the issues of the day, talk about their community, vent about jobs, or just get to know one another. A third place is more important in today’s culture than ever because the modern American home has effectively become a place of social isolation. Even with phone, email, and social media at one’s fingertips, on a basic human level, there is still a disconnect from a broader community. Which leads to feeling isolated and has proven to decrease empathy for one’s fellow humans. A third place restores that connection and puts you in touch with people of different backgrounds, which is an important part of growth for every human being.

In this way, TRC is fulfilling a very important societal need that makes way for a healthy, functioning community. Paradoxically, at this point in history people seem to be more connected than ever due to the internet and social media, yet feel less connected and more isolated. We can no longer afford not to foster real life connection, empathy, and belonging. This is the vision of The Renewal Center.

Staff

Executive Director, Pastor

Human, Director, Chaplain

Re:Bar General Manager

Head Chef & Chef

The Renewal House Manager, Morning Barista

Afternoon Barista

Wait Staff