September 15, 2008

Lighthouse Blazes a Christian Trail

By Denise Jewell Gee

LOCKPORT -- The menu offers mochas and chai. Candles flicker, and live music fills the room.

It could be any coffeehouse on a Saturday night, but this event is different.

It's in the former sanctuary of Lockport Alliance Church, and the bands that play are focused on Christian music.

Lockport's Lighthouse Cafe & Coffeehouse has become a monthly draw for dozens of people -- mostly in their late 20s, 30s and early 40s -- looking to gather together in a place that's not fueled by alcohol or cheesy pickup lines.

"It's something positive going on in Lockport, where people of faith, and even people that don't go to church, have an uplifting and positive place to be," said Mark Weber, the creator of the Web site "One of the reasons it exists is to be welcoming to all people. It's just a coffeehouse with some good food, some good music and some good people."

Organized by Lockport resident Terry Ford, Lighthouse Cafe & Coffeehouse -- now in its second year -- comes together at 7 p.m. the third Saturday of each month. A new music lineup will begin Saturday with the contemporary Christian group Created for Worship.

Ford, president of Solid Rock Ministries, said he started the monthly Lighthouse event to give area music groups a venue. Ford started the nonprofit Solid Rock Ministries two years ago with the goal of promoting and producing Christian performing arts events.

A bassist, Ford found there were few places to play Christian- focused rock when his band formed several years ago.

"Being a musician, I just really like bringing in a variety of different bands," Ford said. "Whether it's blues, rock, alternative, I like to mix it up a little bit. I think people do like to hear variety."

On Oct. 18, Lighthouse will feature the Pennsylvania-based harmony trio Precious Seed. On Nov. 15, Christian alternative rock band Orchard Drive of Rochester will play.

Each Lighthouse event, held at 555 Davidson Road, Lockport, has a $3 admission to help pay for the bands and other costs.

Lee Hoffman, a member of Created for Worship, said Lighthouse is one of about three or four coffeehouse events throughout Western New York that support Christian music.

Hoffman said Created for Worship plays both Christian and secular tunes that are "up beat and fun to sing, fun to listen to."

"I've been playing in Christian bands for probably ten years now, and there's not a lot of venues," he said. "Terry's is a really great place. They always have a lot of people come out, and it's very well run."

Weber said the Lighthouse events -- which offer both music and a menu of pizzas, nachos and desserts -- draws new faces each month.

"There's a lot of people that gather there and every time there's a different mix and a different crowd," Weber said. "There's always new people there to meet."

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Originally published by NEWS NIAGARA BUREAU.

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