In the last few weeks, a new cafe has opened in the south Sydney suburb of Gymea. It's not your typical cafe though, this cafe strives to serve not just traditional Greek coffee, but also assist youths’ spiritual and intellectual well-being.
John Varipatis and Kimon Giannopoulos, the founders of Orthodox Cafe, are both students at St Andrew’s Orthodox Theological College and members of the Greek Orthodox Parish of St. Stylianos, St's. Peter & Paul & St. Gregory of Palama in Gymea.
John is the son of the reverend Father Constantine Varipatis, Parish Priest and has been an active advocate in developing meaningful friendships among the parish’s youth.
Attending the Orthodox Cafe, as it is known, is a delightful and engaging experience. It opens at 11 am after the divine liturgy in the church hall underneath the church.
"We hope and pray the young adults continue to attend the Divine Liturgy before coming to the Orthodox Cafe," John said.
John and Kimon are baristas, taking coffee orders and serving, with volunteers handing out food and other refreshments. By the time coffee has been served, everyone sits around and either John, Kimon or Father Constantine begin with a prayer, before introducing the topic for discussion.
There are guest speakers too. Open dialogue and discussion are both encouraged, and everyone can ask questions.
The topics aim to enlighten people spiritually and also educate. Afterwards, people socialise and then head off to lunch.
Kimon and John told Greek City Times what inspired them to open up an 'Orthodox Cafe' and the meaning behind the idea.
"The idea of creating an Orthodox Cafe + Bookstore in Sydney would be the first of its kind in Australia. The Mission Plan also complements and supports the recent opening of The Greek Orthodox Book Centre in Northcote Victoria, as well as the Bookstore in Adelaide and the existing bookstore in the Archdiocese Headquarters at Redfern in NSW,” they said.
“This Mission Plan takes this one step further by baptising a modern communal and relational experience in taking time out of our busy lives to drink coffee together, and together reflect on the deep doctrines in our theological literature," they continued.
The opening of the Orthodox Cafe comes at the opportune time with COVID-19 restrictions lifting.
This year has been very difficult due to the global pandemic situation. Many young people have developed social anxiety due to not being able to socialise in a face-to-face setting in a very long time.
The Orthodox Cafe is the perfect place to meet new friends, build meaningful relationships, learn and pray, all at the same time.
“The Orthodox Cafe aims to 'combine the inculturation of modern society’s communal enthusiasm (κοινωνία) for coffee drinking with the rich theological literature that exists throughout the Orthodox world," they said, adding that "we think the Orthodox Cafe will bring people closer together in a post-COVID world by using coffee as the excuse for fellowship."
That is really what fellowship is all about. Bringing people together.
Greek City Times is excited to announce that we will continue to follow and support the Orthodox Cafe in an effort to bring more young people together.