Guru Java Coffeehouse - The Manifesto

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In later years we expanded on this to form a "Mission Statement", perhaps for including in some sort of Wesley Foundation annual report (I don't quite remember). But below is the original, straight out of Lawrence's brain.

Related posts:
Guru Java Coffeehouse - History and Posters
Guru Java Coffeehouse - Performers 1990-1995

The Guru Java Manifesto
by Larry VanVactor Lee, Fall 1991

There is a spectre that haunts this coffeehouse, a question that hangs over our every gathering - Why does Wesley, a Christian organization, sponsor Guru Java, a coffeehouse which, at a glance, doesn’t appear to be “Christian” in any overt way?

This question is generally asked by two groups of people. One is a sect of avowed Christians who are suspicious of our gatherings and find themselves uncomfortable with our distinct lack of altar calls and Bible thumping. The other is those who have been disenfranchised by a Christian organization, as being a ploy to lure the unsuspecting into a situation where they can be pounced on by a certain kind of person mentioned above. This manifesto is to answer both.

Why is Guru Java considered a ministry?
At Wesley we understand “ministry” as beginning at the point of need. As Ghandi said, “To the hungry, God must first come as bread before all else.” The Church, at its best, must respond to the needs of the community and the world about it. Those who began Guru Java saw the community’s need for an alternative entertainment environment, an alternative outlet for the creative element in our community, a place for those not yet 21 to see the bands and acts they’d otherwise have to fake their way into a bar to see, and open forum of artists and concerns. It is our hope that Guru Java meets these needs.

Guru Java is for the disenfranchised.
Sorry, Bible thumpers. The Jesus that we read about ate with those that the prevailing wisdom of the day considered undesirable. In these days of power lunches, the concept of eating with has lost some of its meaning, but people of that time understood exactly what this meant. These people with whom Jesus ate, they were his friends and family, for no one could share a table with one he or she could not forgive. Guru Java is a table open to anyone - male or female, faithful or doubtful, straight or gay, black, white, or whatever.

Why does Guru Java host the artists and speakers that it does?
Guru Java seeks to create an open forum. We are not looking for artists or musicians who conform with a certain religious or political point of view. We do, however,, feel a responsibility for providing a place where those outside the mainstream can make their voices heard. We support, if not fully endorse, the activities of the “counter-culture” for we see Christianity as being inherently “counter-culture.” Christ spoke out against the conventional wisdom and authorities of the day. He sought to defeat them, not through armed rebellion (as many of his followers would have him do)_, but through rejecting their empty morals and forms of authority for a higher call, “to live in the world but not be of the world.” We, likewise, look for eloquent spokespeople for views at odds with the status quo, not to inflame us with rhetoric, but to challenge us with compassion.

What does Wesley get out of this?
If you’re suspicious that Wesley’s making a bundle from this enterprise, rest assured, we’re not. Out of the door take, every week, we take out just enough to cover our immediate costs (coffee, posters, ads, etc.) and of the remaining we take a small percent (usually $5 to $15) to offset the costs of future events, the remainder goes to the featured artists. As was said in the beginning, we see this as a ministry to the Purdue community, not for what we can get out of it, but what we can give to the community. Guru Java gives us a lot of satisfaction because it is doing just what it was designed to do.

Where does Guru Java go from here?
The coffeehouse has been so successful, it’s caught some of us off guard. We’ve expanded into radio, airing every Sunday at 10 p.m. on WBQR 95.7 FM and its sister station WMRS of Monticello, we hope to move to an hourly format eventually. We are continuing to experiment with the coffeehouse itself, trying to produce as engaging and provocative of evening as possible. We receive calls and letters and tapes from artists from al over the state and nation wanting to play the coffeehouse. We have al the ingredients for an amazingly successful project. Except one thing. We need help.

We are severely understaffed. We have several people who have made a commitment to make Guru Java happen, but those few people can barely keep up with al the things that need to happen to keep the coffeehouse going week to week. There are many attractive avenues opening up to us, but we need help to make them happen. If you or an organization with which you’re associated could help us by being here on Fridays at 6 p.m. to set up, sticking around afterwards to clean up, staff the front table or the java table, help out on lights, sound, recording, or whatever, let us know.

If you like what’s happening here, don’t take it for granted. Get involved f you can, let people know about it if you can’t. Support the coffeehouse through your attendance if nothing else, especially for those unknown artists from out of state or out of town, it’s a real bummer to play to a house of twenty or thirty after being on the road for hours.

The bottom line is, we want this to be your coffeehouse, we need your input to make that happen.

Other Questions we’re asked a lot:

Who is Guru Java?
Guru Java is not me, Guru Java is not you, Guru Java is not any one of us, we are all Guru Java together!
Seriously: the picture of the Guru used on our posters is of a nineteenth century French painter who was renown for his stature, who’ll let you figure out the rest!

Who does those fantastic posters?
The header of the poster was designed by Daron Henry. Jessica Billey does the artwork for the weekly performances.

Who’s in charge of this thing, really?
No one person, really. The four people who have given the most input to the running of the coffeehouse over the last year have been Fuzzy Gerdes, Dennis Leas, Mike Spitzer, and Larry VanVactor Lee. That doesn’t mean that it will stay that way.

May I smoke in here?
Sorry, no. We do invite people to smoke outside and come back in.

Is Wesley a Church?
Not exactly, no. Wesley is chartered by the United Methodist Church as the Ministry to the Purdue Campus, our purpose being to proclaim the liberating power of Jesus Christ. We think Guru Java does that in its own way.

What other programs happen here?
Wesley has weekly worship services, every Sunday at 4:30 p.m. generally followed by a meal downstairs, and every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the lounge.

Wesley Players, our drama troupe, produces plays which have included Lovers, Waiting for Godot, A Peasant of El Salvador, Godspell, Agnes of God, Ugly Duckling, and Spoon River Anthology.

Mission Earth, an environmental group, is currently forming.

We have a number of study and prayer groups that meet throughout the week.

The Science & Theology Brown Bag Luncheon meets every Thursday at noon for discussion about current topics of concern led often by faculty or leaders from the religious community.

A number of other groups regularly use our building including the Lafayette Area Peace Coalition, the Chinese Church, numerous bands which practice here, and we share the building with the Episcopal Campus Ministry.

Wesley, as you can see, is a happening place. We invite your participation in any of our activities.