The Nevada-Utah Conference has teamed up with Pastor Ryan Hablitzel of the Ogden Seventh-Day Adventist Church to establish a Center of Influence in Ogden, Utah that is focused on offering sustainable employment for youth involved in ministry in the area. Press Together is an organic cold-pressed juice bar started in Buckhead, GA by Jason Churchwell and Jared Thurmon in 2013 eventually expanding and establishing two additional locations in Atlanta, GA. As of 2018, Press Together is no longer located in Atlanta, but is now located on Historic 25th Street of Ogden, Utah as a Center of Influence.
In 2015, THRIVE, a summer youth rush canvassing ministry started by young Adventists moved to Utah working alongside Pastor Hablitzel. THRIVE is a nine month program where young adults sponsor churches and offer lifestyle coaching to members of the community. They also “train church members, engage in Bible studies, organize medical clinics and promote holistic health” (PressTogether). Young adults involved in THRIVE are practically volunteers that live in the homes of various church members for the nine month period. Through this young adult outreach, Pastor Hablitzel realized that young people in ministry attracted other young people to the church and wanted to find a way to make this ministry more sustainable long-term. The idea of a juice bar was conceived to not only provide employment for young people involved in literature ministry but also as a hub for outreach and an alternative church setting.
Pastor Hablitzel managed to combine the tools of church planting from Milton Adams with the concept of Centers of Influences to create a space where young people can be on the forefront of ministry in a community that is waiting to be reached. Jason Churchwell who originally owned Press Together discussed the idea of this Center with Pastor Hablitzel and with much prayer decided to sell Press Together to the Utah-Nevada Conference. Churchwell is still heavily involved in the development of this Center.
“Our church really only speaks one language, but this juice bar requires that we mold into a different model of community outreach,” Hablitzel said.
Press Together is not only on the forefront of Centers of Influence but also on the forefront of juice bars in Utah. This raw organic cold pressed juice bar offers the highest level of juicery possible, unpasteurized with special machines to ensure quality. Community members are anticipating this Center’s opening, Hablitzel said.
“We want this juice bar to be community focused,” Hablitzel said. “When you think of a Center of Influence you don’t think of a place that will hold baptisms or communion. You think of a secular venture into the community. The juice bar is more than that, it’s a spiritual community wanting to be a rallying point for activity.”
Individuals who have been involved with THRIVE will be top picks for employment at the juice bar because of the collaboration with this youth program.
“Our goal really is to create a prototype for a vibrant young adult ministry in communities for a manageable cost,” Hablitzel said. “Just as a church can choose to subsidize a school as a ministry, we would like to see churches subsidize juice bars in their communities as a method for outreach.”
Sierra Emilaire is a recent graduate of Southern Adventist University and the managing editor for Best Practices for Evangelism.