By JOE SUTTER
The Lifetree Cafe branch in Fort Dodge was recently chosen as the 2012 Lifetree Branch of the Year, distinguishing it from over 100 other Lifetree branches located across the country.
The Lifetree Cafe located at 18 S. Third St. is part of a national network of "conversation cafes" where topics relating to life and faith are discussed in a coffeehouse-type setting. The Fort Dodge Lifetree Cafe is operated by Cana, a ministry directed by the Rev. Barbara Huisman.
Lifetree Cafe's National Director Craig Cable said, "One of the goals of Lifetree Cafe is to create a safe and welcoming place where people of all beliefs can share their thoughts and perspectives. We feel that the Lifetree Cafe in Fort Dodge personifies the Lifetree Cafe values."
The honor came as a surprise, Huisman said.
"I think it affirms for me that what we are doing is important, and it is authentic," Huisman said.
Lifetree Cafe grew out of the Christian publisher Group Publishing, she said. Group came to Cana filming for a documentary about churches across the country that are dying out, and those that have a new vision for walking with others.
"They came out in August because of the buzz about all the things going on, and filmed for two days," she said. "Thom Schultz, the founder of Group publishing, said Cana epitomizes what it's all about, and it's about relationship.
"We're part of a national conversation. I was asked to speak at a national future of the church summit. I was on a panel of four church innovators."
Huisman said the visitors were impressed by how little she had to do herself.
"He said, we could have come here and you as pastor could have hosted Lifetree, but I stood back and let all the things God had done just rise up," Huisman said. "I wasn't responsible for things, but I knew God was already at work, and lives have been transformed. And I love that."
Lifetree Cafe is offered at noon and 7 p.m. every Tuesday. Admission to the 60-minute events is free.
Questions about Lifetree Cafe may be directed to Huisman at 302-8036 or firstname.lastname@example.org