Holy Joe’s Cafe sees urgent need to move coffee, supplies due to Russia-Ukraine conflict
Holy Joe’s needs help.
Holy Joe’s Café, a coffee house ministry that supports U.S. military chaplains, is seeing a urgent increase in the need for support as U.S. military troops are deployed to Europe in response to the Russia–Ukraine conflict.
Holy Joe’s began as a ministry of First Congregational Church of Wallingford, Conn., in 2006. The cafe provides coffee to military chaplains to help them make connections with active-duty military personnel.
Tom Jastermsky, Holy Joe’s founder and executive director, said the simple act of providing coffee to soldiers gives chaplains a comforting way to reach out to troops and often initiates conversations that might not have occurred in the regular daily routine. It gives members of the military a place to talk, share concerns and get guidance that can help keep them mentally and spiritually healthier in their work.
The duties of military chaplains are broad and go beyond religious practices. Chaplains pray with units and provide them with a way to talk about issues at home or in their deployment. Chaplains also report to leadership on troop morale. The armed forces acknowledge moral leadership as critical support for troops, and chaplains play a large part in that. Chaplains also are the main contact for soldiers who wish to practice their religion. They aren’t restricted to serving members of their faith. They provide all troops with a place to hold conversations of a spiritual nature.
“As an ordained UCC minister and an Air Force chaplain the ministry we do amongst our troops is a critical one. We help to spiritually ground their deepest fears, anxieties, and hopes with compassionate accompaniment,” said UCC Air Force Chaplain Ryan Tyler-Byers.
With the rapid deployment of troops to Europe in response to the attack on Ukraine, Jastermsky said the need to get coffee supplies to chaplains assigned to those units is urgent. Holy Joe’s regularly provides coffee to hundreds of chaplains at bases around the world, but changes in deployment require logistical plans to move coffee where it is needed.
“It’s not enough,” said Jastermsky speaking about the current supplies and shipping schedules. “The chaplains have their hands totally full.”
UCC churches have a long history of supporting the coffee ministry. More information on how to help can be found on the Holy Joe’s Café website.
Drew Page is the media and data manager of the Southern New England Conference UCC.
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