June 10, 2021 | by Rev. Dr. Felicisimo Cao
Esther Taufa and Lesila Leger are currently workers with young people at Pittsburg United Methodist Church (UMC), whose Sr. Pastor is Quentisha Davis.
Prior to moving to Pittsburg, Esther and Lesila attended Laurel United Methodist Church in Oakland. Once in Pittsburg, they began searching for a closer church to attend and stumbled upon Pittsburg UMC. They were initially hesitant in attending a different church. However, upon entering Pittsburg UMC they immediately fell in love with the place.
The church’s leadership and older folk recognized a need for young people (youth and young-adults) and young-adult leaders for the young people. Eventually, Lesila and Esther were empowered to lead various young people’s ministries, like Sunday School and Youth Group. Eventually, a young-adult group emerged as youth were graduating from high school. With this emerging group, they have been meeting on Sundays to engage in Bible Study and discussion. The young people also assist in leading and coordinating the second Sunday Service every month. This effort is intergenerational, as the young people invite the children to take part in the service.
Once the pandemic hit, gatherings moved to various online mediums. In the midst of the pandemic, Lesila and Esther discovered that the topic of mental health was a needed conversation and mental health resources and advocacy were needed for young people. The isolation of the pandemic made young people feel lost and Lesila and Esther wanted to reach out to them. Consequently, Lesila and Esther began discerning a new online ministry that can reach out to young people. They state, “We wanted to see young people come to a space where they could feel welcome, and not be judged for being young or the color of their skin.” Through prayer, fasting, empowerment from Pastor Davis, and inspiration from Matthew 22:37 the ministry of Cafe Agape emerged.
Cafe Agape is an online ministry livestreamed on Facebook and Instagram. It is a space of centering the voices of young people and preaching Jesus Christ. Live conversations occur on the first and third Sunday of every month. Discussions center things happening within the community and people are invited to bring in topics they want to discuss. Recent topics of discussion include mental health awareness and advocacy, identity, and asking the question why are young people reluctant to go to church? Then, on the second second Sunday there is a live worship with a word of encouragement. Cafe Agape’s audience is diverse, engaging in discussions with individuals that are not part of Pittsburg UMC - some folks are from other UMC’s in the Bay Area and some folks are from different denominations and faiths. Although Cafe Agape centers the voices of young people, their audience is intergenerational. You never know who will come into the space, but Lesila and Esther always make sure that they are welcomed.
Lesila and Esther hope to expand this ministry through in-person gatherings. Their ministry reminds us that God is leading us in various ways through young people and that the young people are called to lead the church.
If you are interested in supporting Cafe Agape, please see the following links:
[Link to facebook is :Pittsburg UMC Cafe Agape and our instagram is pittsburgumc_cafe_agape]
[Where we can donate to support the ministry by zelle email@example.com and just write cafe agape
[We go live every 1st and 3rd Sunday and We have live worship on 2nd Sunday at 6pm]