Carlisle church opens new city centre community cafe

A Carlisle church launched three years ago to encourage young adults to explore the Christian faith has opened a new city centre café.

The Rev’d Matthew Firth is pictured in new city centre community café Lost On A Mountain.The Way Church in Carlisle was set up in 2013 by the Rev’d Matthew Firth, chaplain of the University of Cumbria and Young Adult Mission Worker Andy Dykes.

Their congregation has grown and continues to meet at the university’s Fusehill Street campus chapel and in house groups.

Now The Way team has opened the new café – Lost On A Mountain – in Bank Street in Carlisle city centre to serve the community, develop as a fresh expression of church and help fund wider mission.

Matthew explained: “A while back members of The Way started to talk about the possibility of us opening a café for outreach and we felt God’s call to push ahead. This is all about developing a model of mission through business.

“Hundreds of hours of work have gone into making this happen, from developing the constitution and legal framework, through to renting the property, decorating and raising the money to make this happen.

“There has been a lot of sacrificial giving and we’ve also been supported by various trust bodies for which we’re really thankful.

“We hope the café will be particularly attractive to students and people in their 20s and 30s but we’re also seeing a full spectrum of ages coming through the door which is fantastic.”

The café officially opened for business to the public in August, following a launch event attended by guests including the Bishop of Penrith, the Rt Rev’d Robert Freeman and the God for All Fresh Expressions Enabler Richard Passmore.

The menu includes a full range of sandwiches, salads, soups, burgers and filled sweet potatoes, with cakes, teas, coffees, smoothies and shakes also on offer. The venue will also host student dinners for up to 40 people – who pay just £1 for a meal – on Wednesday evenings between 5pm and 8pm.

Pictured outside Lost On A Mountain, from the left are the Rev’d Matthew Firth, Ben Wilde and Alasdair Gorniak, who are part of the front of house team.Matthew is currently managing a team of five at the café. Profits from the business will help go towards the cost of The Way’s ministry resources as well as contributing to the diocesan Parish Offer, to help support other Church of England congregations across Cumbria.

Other profits will also go towards supporting Project Riandu, a student-run venture which The Way already has links with and which aims to build see a secondary school for deaf children in Kenya.

“A lot of customers in the café have been excited that we’re supporting projects like that,” Matthew said.

“The first step in any fresh expression of church is about loving and serving. The café is obviously about serving and we understand that it will always be difficult to engage missionally with people during the day.

“But people are beginning to love the place and so that helps build that sense of community. By developing more out-of-hours events we can build on that and offer a chance for people to explore discipleship.

“We have spotted God’s hand in this by the fact; we managed to secure this city centre location and raise all the money we needed.

“If, through the out of hours events we can make a connection with ten or fifteen new people who come to discover more of God and Jesus in their lives, then all the money and time spent will have been worth it!”

Notes to editors
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For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at