New café at former Crooked Door serves up coffee and meals, takes prayer requests

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 March 2023 at 3:56 pm

Risen Café offers ‘safe place with no judgement’

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Risen Café opened on Tuesday the former Crooked Door Tavern at 469 East State St. Pictured from left include Sarah Ferguson, Terry Bryant and Jeannie Sullivan.

ALBION – Pastor Terry Bryant of God’s Voice Ministries wants to lead a 21st Century church where he said everyone is welcome, and they don’t feel out of place if they aren’t familiar with hymns, Bible passages and the usual structure of a church service.

Bryant and the church members at God’s Voice have opened the Risen Café at the former Crooked Door Tavern at 469 East State St. They serve coffee and have a breakfast and lunch menu of soups and sandwiches. They are open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday.

“Cheers without beers,” Bryant said. “Everybody can feel comfortable here.”

However, their main goal is offering people a place to share prayer concerns and develop a deeper spiritual life.

“This is a place to connect with people,” Bryant said today at the café. “We want to reach people that wouldn’t come into a traditional church. This is a very nonthreatening environment.”

The church has been meeting out of Bryant’s home the past four years. It was meeting at a Best Western hotel in Lockport until Covid restrictions sent them to Bryant’s living room.

Two of the church members moved to Brown Road in Albion. Bryant was visiting them when he saw the former Crooked Door. He saw the building as a way to serve the community, giving the public another dine-in option for coffee and meals.

But he also sensed people who aren’t connected to a church might see the site as a place to get spiritual guidance.

The congregation has been meeting in the back side of the building since November for Sunday church services at 11 a.m. That space, with a capacity for 37 people, also is used for Bible studies and other gatherings for the church.

The former bar side of the building is the café, where Bible quotes are now on the walls.

Scripture is displayed on the walls at the Risen Café. There is also a prayer corner and a spot for people to submit prayer requests.

Sarah Ferguson of Lyndonville is one of the servers at the Risen Café. She also is the church’s associate pastor. She has master’s degrees in pastoral counseling and addiction recovery. She wants to lead a Christian-based Celebrate Recovery program to help people with addictions, and also direct them to other resources in the community.

“This is somewhere where I can talk about Jesus, learn about people and pray for people,” she said. “We are creating a safe place with no judgement.”

Bryant has worked as an IT systems administrator for about 30 years. He works out of the Larkin Building in Buffalo for Kaleida Health. In 2009, he said he lost feeling in his legs from symptoms of multiple sclerosis. But he said God restored his health and he has been striving to serve God since. He earned a ministry degree while working his other job in information technology.

Bryant initially pushed his ministry with his wife Denise. She contracted Covid and passed away on Dec. 20, 2021. Bryant said he misses his wife very much. He believes that difficult loss can help him relate to others enduring heartache.

“This can be a place where we can have uncomfortable conversations,” he said. “We want to love people where they are.”