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Clinton Township, Mount Clemens

Lifetree Café provides conversation

Weekly meeting topics range from current events to religion

October 4, 2012

MOUNT CLEMENS/CLINTON TOWNSHIP — For the past month, members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Clinton Township, and people outside the church community, have been gathering to share their thoughts and views on a variety of topics.

From current world events to spirituality to health care, those who have involved themselves in Lifetree Café have yet to find something off limits for discussion.

And there isn’t a lull in sight.

Sue von Fange, minister for outreach and assimilation at Trinity, said she is delighted by the reception Lifetree Café has received so far.

“In my heart, I didn’t expect anyone to show up (to that first vision meeting in early May), because we had made our announcement in a newsletter,” she said. “I’m just thrilled with the number of our members who are now in on it.”

Von Fange discovered Lifetree Café two years ago. The national organization was founded five years ago by Group Publishing in Colorado.

“I just knew it would be a great addition here,” said von Fange. “I was right. It’s a friendly environment, an inviting environment. All thoughts and ideas are welcome. It’s a place to meet new people and explore issues of faith and life. Faith impacts how we see life.

Organizers host weekly meetings inside Monte’s located next to John Barleycorn’s in downtown Mount Clemens.

Pam Jones, a Trinity Lutheran Church parish member, is the director of Lifetree Café.

She said the meetings are set up to allow no more than 50 people at one time. Those in attendance are welcome to speak to the group at large or they can open up to people in smaller groups. Short movies are presented in some instances, and in other meetings, those in attendance will hear from experts. Refreshments are provided at no charge.

“We had 29 people come to our first meeting, and (on Sept. 30) we had 36 people,” said Jones. “Our goal is to reach out to other people and bring God into the community.

“Honestly, it is amazing to me how many people have been touched by this,” she continued. “People are really opening up and talking about where they are in their faith walk. It’s something people like to do, but don’t have a place to do it. It has touched my heart so deeply.”

Von Fange said that was her whole purpose in bringing Lifetree Café to Macomb County.

“I got really excited about the opportunity it would provide,” said von Fange. “And that’s to allow people a chance to discuss topics in a setting like they hadn’t had before.”

Topics have included spirituality, body image and coping with suicide, and upcoming meetings will include discussions about health care Oct. 14, divine intervention and the purpose of life Oct. 21, and same-sex marriage Oct. 28. Each discussion is an hour long and is free and open to the public. No reservations are required.

Both von Fange and Jones said the owner of John Barleycorn’s and Monte’s has been very generous allowing them to utilize the space and providing the refreshments.

Von Fange said attendance has grown exponentially at each meeting, and she’s discovered that people enjoy discussing issues and hearing others’ views and opinions.

“As Christians, we really like to have opportunities to share stories of faith and hear what other people have to share,” she said “Everyone who comes to Lifetree is a new friend. We’re not here to push God on anybody. That’s not it at all. It’s just a place to say what we’ve experienced and let others talk about their experiences as well.

“It’s just always insightful in terms of who we are,” von Fange continued. “We each see the world so differently.”

Lifetree Café is held at 7 p.m. every Sunday at Monte’s, 110 Macomb Place. For more information, call Sue von Fange at (586) 463-2921, ext. 103.

About the author

Staff Writer Julie Snyder covers Harrison Township, Mount Clemens, Macomb County, L’Anse Creuse Public Schools, and Mount Clemens Community Schools for the Journal. She has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2003, and attended the University of Toledo with degrees in journalism and photography. Julie has received several awards for her work in Arizona and Washington, including AP awards in Arizona for breaking news reporting and feature writing.

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