Café Quetzal friends gather for gala

David Burke


Cafe Quetzal 2nd anniversary

TOPEKA – More than 60 people got a taste of Café Quetzal during the coffeehouse ministry’s second anniversary celebration on Aug. 24.

Despite an air conditioning system on the fritz, longtime customers and churchgoers, volunteers and newcomers learned about the coffeeshop in a gala to mark the first of a three-day celebration that also included its first open mic night and a daytime parking lot party.

Rev. Christine Potter, on guitar, is joined by Mikki Burcher, Lilia Potter and Barb Muench for the singing of "Crowded Table." Photos by David Burke
“There’s not another space like this,” Mikki Burcher, chair of the café’s new leadership team, said. “It’s a new kind of faith, a new kind of church, a new kind of life of Jesus followers.”

In her opening prayer, Rev. Christine Potter, the café’s “pastorista,” praised the “common vision for Topeka and your people and the way we’re connected across the community.”

Potter told of her spiritual background, being raised Catholic and meeting her husband, Rev. Jeff Potter, and feeling a call to ministry and, eventually, to form a congregation in a coffeehouse.

“We had no experience as baristas or business owners,” she said of herself and Barb Muench, business manager. “I had never wanted to start a church, but God does weird things.”

Muench thanked the realtors, business owners, architects and painters who volunteered to help the café open in August 2021.

“It was story after story of people who came along to join us,” she said. “Here, every minute is a ministry opportunity. It’s a wonderful way to do ministry and to do life.”

Potter’s daughter Lilia is a senior at Topeka West High School, a block away from the shop.

“This space is kind of perfect,” she said.

Describing herself as a “token agnostic,” Lilia said involvement at Café Quetzal “has really allowed me to grow and question.”

“You can literally step in here and feel what my mother believes is the Holy Spirit,” said Lilia, one of two teenagers in the eight-person leadership team.
About 60 people attended Cafe Quetzal's anniversary gala Aug. 24.
Burcher said that she, like many of the 30 people who attend the Sunday morning coffee church, are “spiritual wanderers.”

“So many in our space are seeking something,” she said, “and they find it here.”

Burcher was part of the “flight team” that helped open Café Quetzal two years earlier, at the same time she felt her life was falling apart.

“I lost my job, lost my friends, business community, health insurance and my income,” she said. “I hated life, I hated myself, I hated God.”

“You saved my faith,” she told Potter and Muench. “You saved me from myself. You gave me a sense of self.”

Burcher said Café Quetzal had become a “loud and proud” safe space for the LGBTQ community who felt like it was ignored in other churches.

Gala attendees dined on a combination of charcuterie and Quetzal menu favorites as the gala began.

Christine Potter, on guitar, led the singing of “Crowded Table,” first recorded by the Highwomen, the unofficial theme song of Café Quetzal, and participated in table talk, a Sunday coffee church staple, where participants discuss a series of questions.

The night also included a video by Eugenio Hernandez, Great Plains Conference multimedia producer, about the café. See the short version (3:45), or the long version (5:20) here.

The gala concluded with the distribution of the café’s first pledge cards, for one-time, monthly or annual contributions. In an interview in early August, Potter and Muench said that the goal for its first stewardship campaign was $5,000.

Contact David Burke, content specialist, at

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