South Charlotte

This place is part coffee, part religion

If you travel down N.C. 51 through Pineville on a regular basis, you've probably noticed a little brick building next to the police station with a big sign that reads "The Well."

If you're like most commuters and local residents, you might be wondering about this place that claims to be a coffeehouse and church.

The Well is exactly that, or as the other side of their sign reads - church and coffeehouse.

Either way you look at it, the building that used to house the Pineville Presbyterian Church years ago is a place for both caffeine-fanatics and faith-seekers alike.

The components of this building are exclusive to one another - a visit to the coffeehouse is just that, a place to get your caffeine fix, there's nothing "churchy" about it.

The concept of The Well began years ago when Pastor Todd Zielinski, 42, began meeting with church-goers at a coffee shop in Carmel Commons shopping center.

"This local coffeehouse was a place where I went to drink coffee. I asked him (the owner) about using his coffeehouse for a church. He gave us a key and taught us how to make coffee," said Zielinski.

As time progressed, Zielinski recognized the need for a stable meeting place for his congregation.

"We weren't originally going to have a building, but it was clear that the people we were connecting with needed a safe place to come," said Zielinski.

Zielinski stumbled upon the old Pineville Presbyterian church 11 years ago and found it to be a suitable gathering place for his congregation.

However, a coffeehouse hadn't entered his mind until he spoke with the owner of the coffee shop in Carmel Commons.

"The coffee shop side just happened to be - it wasn't an idea," he said. "The dude that owned the coffee shop at Carmel Commons decided to close his business and do something different. He offered us his coffee equipment. What we decided was we wanted to do it, but we didn't want anything contractually based. So we give away everything and we've done it for 11 years. The idea was that generosity might bring about generosity.

"The generosity of people who either come to the church or come to the coffeehouse, that generosity has created so much of a potential to do good things in the town of Pineville," said Zielinski.

The coffeehouse at The Well is meant to be a haven for passers-by to come in and feel at home in a place where everyone is welcome, for those both filled with and lacking in faith.

"This whole place, every day of the week is for people that aren't members of our church. We use it, but it's for everybody. There's no religious propaganda," said Zielinski.

The Well is a modest and approachable place to hang out. There are tables and chairs (along with Wi-Fi) and bohemian-feeling artwork on the walls, even the floor is rustically unfinished.

"We want a place that is humble, small and not polished that looks more like life and a little less like television," said Zielinski.

For those that are more interested in attending a service than drinking a cup of coffee, The Well has two gatherings each Sunday - one at 9:30 a.m. and another at 11 a.m. "The Well is meant to operate as a front porch," said Zielinski, "a place where people who are messed up know that it's a good thing that they're alive and there are people who care that they are here."