The Story of Ro.
Hello and Welcome Here!
Our names are Jakob and Jayme Svahn, we are the baristas (Jakob’s also the roaster!) and managers of the coffee shop, and we want to share with you the story of this place. The Story of Ro is a bit of a long one and one that we keep seeing unravel as we move forward, but let’s just start at the beginning - in 1959
Riondel Community Church
Since the early 1900’s, the christian community in Riondel had been meeting together in public spaces, lead by pastors who served much of the communities around Kootenay Lake. In 1959, the community came together and built this beautiful, church building. They filled the church with items donated from other churches in the area and built furniture with found and donated materials. They worked together to create a place for people to gather and meet with Jesus. So the Riondel Community Church was born.
The Harbour at Riondel
Fast forward a bunch of years to the fall of 2020, when Mark and Jes Hagen (the executive directors of The Harbour and founders of the Wild Goose Collective), moved from Alberta to Riondel, to start a Discipleship School and retreat centre at the old Dutch Harbour Bible Camp. The Riondel Community Church had not been functioning for a number of years and had to make the tough decision to sell the building. Fortunately, when they heard of Mark and Jes’ vision of creating a space for people to experience restoration and closeness with Jesus, as well as how they wanted to be involved in the community of Riondel and support the people who live here, they chose to gift the church to The Harbour ministries.
Church to Coffee Shop
Mark and Jes fully intended the church to be restored as a church again and it became very clear early on in receiving the church, that it would be difficult to find a pastor to do a church plant in Riondel. As they maintained the church property and got to know people in the community, there was a noticeable lack of places for the community to gather in and a noticeable desire for a coffee shop. It’s also very easy when running a retreat centre/discipleship school ministry - where people come to you, to not know your neighbours. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to give the community something they needed and wanted, as well as a way to be involved in the village, and a way to support the ministries at the Harbour. So, in January 2021 Jakob and I received a call from Mark and Jes and they asked if we’d be willing to move to Riondel from Alberta and start a coffee shop/roastery that would also become a church again as we find more people to join us.
In September 2021, we were still unsure if we would be able to start the coffee shop, but we decided to move to Riondel anyways because of the certainty we all shared that Jesus wanted to fill this need in the village of Riondel. He wanted to give a place for the residents of the East Shore of Kootenay Lake to find rest, friendship, and peace. Just like He did in 1959.
Making it Happen
A month or two after we made our big move, we received the approval and internal loans to be able to start construction on the Riondel Community Church. Thanks to Mark for his ability to find good deals on the internet and my Dad for doing all the constructing on his weekends off, using many old materials from his job sites and donated items, we were able to give new life to an old building with limited resources. During this time, Jakob did Barista/Roasting training in Vancouver so we would be able start with quality, freshly roasted beans, prepared just right.
It was a long few months of planning, working, and praying but through many helping hands and God’s provision, we opened our doors on February 23rd. We could probably write a book on all the times we saw God provide for this project and make a way where we didn’t see one. We still have lots of plans for this little place and look forward to seeing it grow, but right now we are delighting in all the ways we’ve seen the Kingdom of God, right where we are.
“For you, O Lord, have made me glad by what you have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.”
- Psalm 92:4
To Make a Donation
The proceeds from everything you purchase in our coffee shop and online, goes towards sustaining the ministries at The Harbour. We are first and foremost a ministry and if what we’re doing here is resonating with you, there’s also the option to donate directly. These donations can go toward development of the coffee shop and the Harbour property, future students of the Discipleship School (Headwaters) and they can also go to contributing to the people behind the ministries directly who all fundraise a portion of their income. If you click on the link bellow, it will take you to Canada Helps, where you can donate to the area of your choice. All donations are tax deductible.
Thank you so much for being apart of this story.