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Reaching Out

by Alicia Chiang

A one-minute walk from the Glasgow Queen Street Railroad Station, a Gothic-style church occupies the middle of a square. On a chalkboard by the front door of St. George’s Tron Church, white, hand-drawn artsy letters spell out, “Cafe.” The Wild Olive Tree is a cafe on Monday through Saturday, a church on Wednesday and Sunday, and a social services enterprise every day of the week.

“There’s just a sense of trying to meet the needs of the community and trying to be a place that reaches out to everyone,” Beth Reynoldson, the cafe manager, said. “So people who have never experienced church before will feel invited and welcomed and actually be surprised by what they find inside.”

Around the outer part of the interior, people sit down for a cup of coffee, young people work on their laptops, and staff prepare drinks and scones. Folding screens divide the middle of the room where a large green cross tops a podium amid two rows of seating for religious activities. 

The cafe church helps the community in three ways. It offers free meals for homeless, destitute people who struggle with food insecurity. For the unemployed and for people with addictions, the cafe offers job placement, training and support. Finally, the café’s proceeds are donated to two charity partners: Glasgow City Mission and Bethany Christian Trust.

Completed in 1808, St. George’s is part of the Church of Scotland. The Wild Olive Tree Cafe opened in 2015 in an effort to utilize the space to better serve the church’s mission.

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