Germantown church’s coffeehouse event promotes unity through the arts

An afternoon of poetry reading, storytelling, singing and joke-telling entertained the crowd at the Bread and Cup Coffeehouse event at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown on Sunday.

But for the Rev. Kevin Porter, Bread and Cup Coffeehouse founder, the show is more than entertainment. He said it is about building positive relationships within the neighborhood.

“It is a third space,” Porter said of Bread and Cup. “Everyone talks about how they need a third space. You have two spaces in your home and at your workplace. And this is a third space. A safe place to go and gather with and be amongst community.”

A decade-old effort

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Porter started the event in 2003 as way to promote the interaction among racial, generational, economical and cultural boundaries that exist. Porter’s inspiration came from an early Christian tradition.

“The whole idea started as a riff on the Agape Feast,” Porter said, “and that whole concept is a welcome table for whosoever.”

Porter explained that the idea of blending together diverse members of the church and neighborhood is an effective method in forming meaningful bonds within the community.

“So many things these days are targeted to a specific demographics. You have your seniors, you have things for kids or one particular ethnic group, but the idea behind Bread and Cup is that we are all in this together,” Porter said. “We all have something that we are able to share.”

Building bridges

Porter said he believes that through stereotyping and other preconceived notions, neighbors can miss out on friendships due to disengagement.

The coffeehouse, he said, could start interactivity and help cultivate these relationships.

“When we share,” he said, “we have ability to learn, grow and have more of a sense of community.”

Bread and Cup has drawn a regular crowd which Porter hopes to build up.

“Right now, the crowd is usually black females around 55, which is fine,” Porter explained, “but we are hoping and trying to get some younger members of the community.”

A regular comedian

One of those younger attendees was David Washington, a comedian who has come to the event since just after its inception.

“I’m a bit of a regular here,” Washington said. “I have been here since 2004 and have been in love with it ever since.”

Washington said previous years saw a slightly larger, younger crowd. He guessed that the lack of younger attendees is due to the event’s time change from a 7 p.m. start time to 4 p.m.

Porter has been trying to spread word of Bread and Cup by handing out flyers and putting information into newspapers.

For his part, Washington said he has faith in Porter’s attempts to attract younger locals.

“Slowly but surely, they will come back,” Washington said.

Thomas E. Zamonski is a student at Temple University. Philadelphia Neighborhoods, a NewsWorks content partner, is an initiative of the Temple Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

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