Johnson University Florida launches first Coffeeshop of semester

KISSIMMEE – Johnson University Florida’s Student Government Association has determined how to host Coffeeshop events despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coffeeshop is an event that occurs every Thursday on the Florida campus. In the past, students would congregate at the Student Union Building to sing worship songs, hear other students expand on scriptures that support a chosen theme, and fellowship with classmates while drinking coffee.

Coffeeshop attendees listen as Brad Velez speaks at the semester’s first Coffeeshop event

Although Florida students enjoy Coffeeshop, normal activities have been abruptly disrupted this past year by COVID-19.

“We’ve had to switch [the location for Coffeeshop] from the SUB to the Commons, because the maximum number of people that we can have in the SUB is a little bit less than what we usually have in attendance for Coffeeshop,” Haden Paul, SGA president of the Florida campus, said. “We had to figure out all the audio stuff [and] get all the microphones and A.V. items… figured out, which was a little more of a struggle because we had everything perfectly set up in the SUB to do Coffeeshop.”

But COVID-19 affected more than just the location for Coffeeshop; it also affected student attendance as well.

“I think just people showing up is hard because of COVID,” Chloe Moseley, SGA Executive Secretary, said. “Since we changed the location, different people would show up and [fewer] people would show up.”

It was one challenge to encourage students to attend Coffeeshop, but another to find someone willing to preach.

SGA President Haden Paul and SGA Executive Secretary Chloe Moseley worked together to adapt Coffeeshop to meet COVID-19 protocols.

“One thing that we really have kind of struggled with this semester…is getting folks to speak,” Paul said. “We’ve had a lot of students leave campus because of virus-related things.”

Moseley and Paul expressed how important the first Coffeeshop of this semester would be, hoping it would set a positive tone for future Coffeeshops.

Brad Velez preaches about living transformed lives to kickstart first Coffeeshop.

At the event, students were engaged with singing songs of praise and listening to Brad Velez, the first student speaker of Coffeeshop for the semester. This year’s theme, “Foundation,” prompted Velez to emphasize that Christians are transformed by Jesus so that they can transform others.

Following the final song for Coffeeshop, students expressed their feelings about the event.

“I liked it a lot,” Gage Holloway, second-year student at Johnson University Florida, said. “[This event is] especially [good] for Christians [who have] kinda’ like a baby faith.”

Lane Parnell, senior at Johnson University Florida, shared Holloway’s praises of Coffeeshop.

“I think it benefits me, because it’s voluntary,” Parnell said. “Everyone in there wants to be there – the voluntary aspect of the worship team…and a completely student-led everything – that’s really my favorite part about it.”

Those in attendance voiced both their appreciation of the event and their excitement for future events like it.

“It’s just a really good opportunity, especially for young preachers,” Diego Cruz, business major at Johnson University Florida, said. “Someone just starting into it can…get that chance to speak…I don’t think it can go anywhere but up from here.”

Similarly, students expressed their enthusiasm for having time to discuss what they learn during Coffeeshops.

“I just really like… that we’re adding the devo nights to everything” Matthew Oplinger, youth ministry major, said. “And so just having a set teaching that we learned in Coffeeshop…[we can go] into a devo period where we can actually talk about it and digest it and then talk to other people…about it.”

With the first Coffeeshop in the books, SGA has begun establishing a new spiritual rhythm for the Florida campus. Join other students every Thursday at 9 p.m. in the Commons to explore the rest of Coffeeshop’s theme, “Foundation.”

In the future, student speakers will preach sermons based on an exploration of what each fruit of the Spirit means.

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