TWU House in Fort Langley
by Keri Vermeulen
The beautiful, heritage village of Fort Langley, bursting with BC history, scenic Fraser River views, funky eateries and artsy shops has quietly acquired yet another attribute – “college town”, thanks to the forward thinking of one of Trinity Western University’s key leaders, and a warm, friendly university student culture..
TWU’s Senior Vice President of External Relations, Scott Fehrenbacher saw great untapped potential between the university community and Fort Langley when he arrived on the job last January, from Phoenix Az. Bringing with him a background in organizational growth, brand development and a love for Christian university culture, Fehrenbacher has set out to merge the best of both worlds.
“Historically, Trinity Western has not reached out to become a member of the community very actively, and a lot of people here didn’t know who we were,” shares Fehrenbacher over coffee on the sidewalk patio at the new Trinity Western House coffee house, nestled between the old train station and the dragon boat dock on the river. “So my approach is to annex Fort Langley as a university. As far as I’m concerned, this is campus. Our students are really part of the DNA of this community, and they make up part of the culture of this community.”
Trinity Western House has become the hub for this merger between town and university. A community gathering place, it’s located in the quaint building formerly known as Bedford House. The idea is to provide a casual meeting place for university students – where they can sip a latte and study for two hours (without taking up customer space at other local coffee shops) – and also be welcoming to non-students. It’s where the people of Fort Langley, and its visitors, can get to know the student culture of Trinity Western University.
“Let’s have a place where we have students, music, coffee and lightning speed free internet,” enthuses Fehrenbacher, adding that the relationship with Fort Langley is intended to be mutually beneficial. He points out that behind the tree lined TWU campus on Glover Road are 4,000 potential consumers for the merchants of Fort Langley. “They’re going to help business, and it will be awesome. We want to be an accelerator to local business.”
Trinity Western House boasts vibrant, social and casual atmosphere. The coffee is fantastic (house blends such as “Spartan Spike” are roasted locally by Republica Coffee Roasters), and in addition to roomy coffee bar space (for up to 30 people), there is a smaller, fireside room, the Spartan Faithful Lounge where people can watch livestreaming live TWU sports events. There are plans in the works to foster live local music, and showcase local artistic talent. Visitors are welcome to bring in food and drinks from outside and enjoy them at TWU House. “We want to create kind of an Austin, Texas feel here, with live music, and community. The by-product of that is that people get to know the hearts of our students. When you meet them, by and large, you’re going to think, ‘I love these guys.’ They’re courteous, warm and a great part of this community.”
TWU House Manager, Deanna Rule, says the space is ideal for music, and intelligent conversation. “I had a cool thing happen here the other night. It was our Thursday music night and we had a conversation with two guys who aren’t from our university,” shares Rule. “We started talking about politics and we had a disagreement on viewpoints and the guy said, ‘you know, this has got to be the first political conversation I’ve had that didn’t end in shouting.’ It was really cool.”
Stay tuned for an announcement about a TWU House concert, May 4, featuring a big name in Christian music! Trinity Western House is open from noon to 8 pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Thursday is music night. All are welcome here – to enjoy a great coffee, music, conversation and university atmosphere..