Reimagining church space: The Juice Bar
Reimagining church space: The Juice Bar

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Two summers ago, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, had an idea. What began as a way to connect with a local school district became far more than we imagined. We called it the Juice Bar.

Rightly named to acknowledge that many students come to charge up their MacBooks and other devices, the Juice Bar is a free, safe, after-school spot for local teenagers. Open four days a week and regularly serving more than twenty-five students, the Juice Bar in a new innovation for our parish.

Students sign in upon arrival and find a comfy spot to hunker down and plug in. The Juice Bar offers free Internet access for all students and provides chargers for them to use during their time there. We have thirty outlets available, and serious Wi-Fi speed. Snacks and drinks are also provided daily. Volunteers from St. Christopher’s and the local community are present in the Juice Bar for adult supervision.

There is no programming, no agenda, and no bible study.

It is simply a place for teenagers to connect, unwind, work on homework, and use our facility. It is a safe place where many students come as they wait for their parents to get off of work each day. Rather than heading home to an empty house, they are able to work with peers and socialize. 

When the local school district went digital and gave every student at the high school a MacBook, they learned that many student still did not have Wi-Fi at home. The Juice Bar offers this free service as a community outreach and welcomes teenage neighbors to grab after-school Internet access weekly.

Raiford Collins, the children and youth director for St. Christopher’s, runs the Juice Bar and coordinates volunteers and snacks. After she proposed the idea, St. Christopher’s was eager to help make the concept a reality. In just seven weeks, construction of the Juice Bar was complete. We were ready for its students to arrive.

With support and love from its volunteers and the St. Christopher’s community, the Juice Bar has been a tremendous success. We hope it will continue to grow and provide a place for fellowship and learning in our neighborhood. 

Raiford Collins is the children and youth director at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Spartanburg, a church of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina

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