West Bank LGBTQ+ groups raise awareness about Seven Corners Coffee background

The coffee shop is run by Wooddale Church, an evangelical Christian church.

by Farrah Mina

University of Minnesota student Lindsay Sacco went to Seven Corners Coffee almost every day since its opening, but after learning of the coffee shop’s potential connection to conversion therapy, she’s taking her business elsewhere.

Seven Corners Coffee, which opened in September on the West Bank campus, is owned by the evangelical Christian church, Wooddale Church. Sacco’s decision came in the wake of an email from OutLaw, the University Law School’s LGBTQ+ student association, which shared a link to Wooddale Church’s counseling referrals, including a local organization that practices conversion therapy. 

“The concerns expressed to us with regards to Seven Corners Coffee surround Wooddale Church’s stance on homosexuality, given that the coffee shop is financially linked to the Church,” the OutLaw email sent in late September reads. The organization sent the email to those in the OutLaw community to “allow everyone to make an informed decision about whether or not they want to patronize Seven Corners Coffee.”

The Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to ban conversion therapy for minors last week. Mayor Jacob Frey released a statement in favor of the ordinance.

Morgan Alexander — a University law student and then-president of OutLaw — said the group’s concerns stem from the Church’s links to Outpost Ministries, an organization that practices conversion therapy. On Wooddale Church’s website, various counseling group referrals were listed, including Outpost Ministries, which is stated to provide counseling “to meet the needs of men and women seeking freedom from unwanted same-sex attractions.” The list is no longer available on the Church’s website. 

Ben Carlson, who was hired to start the coffee shop, said he asked the Church about any conversion therapy ties after community members voiced their concerns. The Church told him it did not advocate for conversion therapy.

“We’re for community. We’re for showing love and grace to everybody. We’re for having an exceptional environment, exceptional coffee, exceptional service, regardless which community you’re a part of,” he said.

Though the coffee shop is funded by Wooddale Church leadership, the church does not receive the revenues, Carlson said.

After learning about these links, Sacco — the co-president of Compass, the Carlson School of Management’s graduate LGBTQ+ student group — also penned an email like OutLaw’s to inform MBA students about the connection, allowing them to make their own decision about where they spend their money.

“As Compass it’s important for us to be open to all types of diversity and being intersectional, so not just celebrating sexuality and gender diversity but also diversity in religious expression,” Sacco said.

Since sending the email, Sacco said Compass received several responses from students thanking the group for sharing the information about the coffee shop, which has become popular on campus.

For Sacco, Seven Corners Coffee filled a gap in coffee shops on West Bank. Though she used to be a Seven Corners Coffee regular, she said she needed to shop elsewhere in order to align her actions with her values.

“It was really hard for me because I both loved going to Seven Corners … and that it existed, and was upset to feel like they might not have the same respect for me as they might for another customer,” she said.