FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Three years ago an idea and the memory of a single cappuccino machine inadvertently led to the creation of a ministry that continues to foster fellowship and long-term friendships in the transient military atmosphere at Fort Rucker.

According to Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Timothy Bedsole, Fort Rucker deputy garrison chaplain, Morning Joe's Coffee Ministry provides a place for Soldiers to come together and share a cup and a conversation.

"It started about three years ago when one of our chaplains came up with the concept from a previous assignment and a previous deployment," he said. "I received the idea from a chaplain in Somalia in 1993 who brought a cappuccino machine to Mogadishu.

"The chaplain had everyone from generals to privates stop by his tent for a cup of cappuccino and it often times turned into a session for a listening ear," he added. "I did the same thing in 2003 in Iraq. Even in the heat of Iraq, there were Soldiers who would crave a cup of Joe and a chance to talk. I've seen the idea of a coffee ministry on many of deployments serve as a morale booster and a group unifier in sometime austere conditions."

And, in that spirit of morale and unity, a coffee ministry was born at Fort Rucker.

"It is held both before and after the 10:45 a.m. Wings Chapel service," Bedsole said. "The location of Wings Chapel was intentional. It was placed near our living areas for our training population on Fort Rucker. The Wings Chapel service is a contemporary service geared toward two things: grace and growth.

"The holding of the coffee ministry both before and after the service serves as a way to show grace toward one another," he added. "During the time of fellowship in the coffee ministry, I see families sharing together and people sitting down to talk. In that talk comes support for the harder things in life and fellowship with fellow travelers who may provide strength during the difficult times in training."

The ministry is a local effort, but, according to Bedsole, the idea is sponsored on a national level.

"It is a ministry we have at Wings Chapel on Sunday's and it is also a national ministry by a group of Christians who want to share a cup of blessings with Soldiers here at Fort Rucker and around the world," he said. "The idea for the Fort Rucker ministry is to give people time to fellowship and develop deeper relationships in getting to know others in the Army Aviation community. The coffee ministry has been one of those places Soldiers can slow down for a few minutes and grow closer to a caring community in preparation for a time of worship to grow closer to God. Anyone can visit a coffee house, but a coffee house in the Lord's house adds a dynamic that strengthens people beyond caffeine."

According to Bedsole, there should be no reservations about stopping by for a cup.

"If you walk in on any given Sunday, you will see people talking and laughing," he said. "You'll see children running around and making friends. Sometimes, after the service, we see people linger and make new friends. It's a low-key time of growing in fellowship with people and with God.

"If you would like to tie into a congregation who cares about people and is excited about God, then come by," he added. "Don't expect high pressure, but do expect the grace of God to pour out from the fellowship at the ministry."

But what if someone is interested in attending the ministry, but isn't a coffee drinker?

"We serve water, juice and hot tea, as well," Bedsole said. "We also have light snacks and sometimes--on a real good day--we serve donuts and a light breakfast. This past Sunday someone brought sausage balls and a casserole to our coffee house. No one complained!"

For more information about the Wings Chapel coffee ministry and Holy Joe's Café, call 255-2989 or 255-2012.