Vineyard church accepts all

Michelle Bair

Local artwork and lively paintings surround the room. Live bands perform at night, with lyrics of the songs projected on a screen. The dim lighting of candles and old-fashion gold Christmas lights sets a relaxing mood on Sunday evenings. There is a coffee bar and tons of seats to choose from. A laid-back gathering place for people to come together and share their faith.

“The Vineyard is where broken folks mend broken hearts,” said Scott Budzar, the pastor of the non-traditional, community church located in a small brick building on North Depeyster.

“We are made up of moms, dads, artists, drug-addicts, recovering drug-addicts, occasional visiting doctors, doubters, very new-new monastics (striving pastors), hippies, conservatives, musicians galore, poets, architects, professional cussers and skeptics who enjoy pounding coffee, the company of friends and pondering to the goodness of God — So all that to say… we’re all His kids.”

Olivia Stone, junior psychology major, said for her first two years of college, she was looking for a church in the area and started going to The Vineyard last January.

“I never felt welcome, accepted and comfortable at other churches,” she said. “The first time I came here, I felt at peace. We would never turn anyone down, and we aren’t here to judge. That’s what I felt when I came here.

“Now it’s my second home, and it’s nice to have a group. Everything is super raw and brutally honest. I like that I can go on stage, say whatever I want and feel support. The people here are awesome and everyone is here to help.”

Stone said she met a lot of people and built a lot of friendships at The Vineyard. In November, she started bringing her friend Emily Vincent, a junior hospitality management major.

Stone and Vincent said they fell in love with the community service, and their commitment to Anonymous Relief Mission.

“The gift-card giver is (a) non-profit (program), and we give all of what we raise through gift-cards,” Stone said. “I know we have raised over $1,000, and we have been collecting since March 5. We have received a lot of feedback, and a lot of people are willing to donate.”

The church is involved with other various offerings for people in the area.

“Feed-a-Friend is where volunteers put together a big potluck lunch, and sometimes it has a theme,” said Franci Zelasko, a Vineyard member since 2000. “We take it to the Center of Hope in Ravenna and hang out with them.”

Another option for the ladies is Women’s Night.

“It’s every other Monday, and it’s open to whomever,” Zelasko said. “Just connecting with other women and praising the Lord. It’s a good place to vent.”

She said every once in a while, they have a pampering night for women in shelters, and “it’s a lot of fun.”

“When I first started going to the Vineyard, I wasn’t following God,” Zelasko said. “But I wanted to find a place, and when I came it felt like I was part of a family. I live far away from my immediate family, so it was heart-warming to know people cared. Here, it’s not so traditional. Other places I got lost in the crowd, like I didn’t even exist. It’s nice to be a part of a community that cares for the poor. I fell in love with that.”

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