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Cup O' Joy and American Bible Society Presents

Imagine Jan O's sheer joy and surprise when she received a message on her answering machine telling her that a producer wanted to come to Green Bay, Wisconsin to film some footage at the Cup O' Joy for a television program. Jan, who books the talent for one of the most highly regarded and popular Christian music venues in North America, reacted as most of us probably would.

She recalled thinking in disbelief, "Okay who is this? You never really know who people are. There are a lot of unusual people in the world, and with the Internet, people can get a lot of information." Remember that last statement because it is important.

"I called him (the producer) back and he seemed very genuine. I asked him if it was the same American Bible Society from whom I had received two cases of bibles. My husband works in jail ministry so we buy our bibles from them. He said yes that would be us. I thought that was pretty cool."

When I spoke to Jarczak, the Segment Producer for The American Bible Society Presents, he told me how he first learned about the Cup O' Joy. "I came across the story (in Phantom Tollbooth) while doing research during the preproduction (phase) for future episodes," he said. Did you notice the connection to a lot of information being available through the Internet?

"I was looking for stories across the country and I came across an article written by you (that's me--the guy who is writing this) concerning the Cup O' Joy. When I first read it, I thought it was an interesting article. I didn't read the whole article, and I put it aside in a big pile of stories we were going to pursue. When I had a chance to read it more thoroughly I realized what the Cup O' Joy was all about, all the volunteers and just how long they had been doing this," says Jarczak. Jan O recalls Jarczak being really interested in the unique aspect of the community involvement in making the Cup O' Joy a huge success story for the past seventeen years.

"I spoke with Jan several times and we did a pre-interview.  We discussed what the best time would be to record a concert because it is such a crucial aspect of their ministry. They feature so many genres of music, everything from bluegrass to hard rock. She said that John Cox is one of the Cup's bigger draws and he is a person everybody looks forward to throughout the year. He only comes once each year so it turns into a (big) event.  We arranged to film on that particular night which was Saturday, January 20.

"I wanted to capture the flavor of the Cup O' Joy and make sure we (covered) a lot of substantial information. We shot over a period of two days, (capturing) the John Cox concert in its entirety. We had our cameraman shooting with both a tripod and handheld camera. Although it was dark, we tried to (capture) as many shots of the audience as we could so we could get show their reactions and energy.  On the Monday we interviewed Jan and the chairman of the board for the Cup O' Joy," said Jarczak.

Jarczak admits, "I was blown away by the vibe of the place and the passion that everybody had. All of the volunteers were just great. The degree of expertise that everybody has is top notch. I was hoping for the best but you never know until you get to a venue. I told Jan that I was surprised by how professionally everything was done considering volunteers (do all the work). In addition, they only operate a couple of days per week. I was dumbfounded by how great everything was. They are very lucky to have that kind of venue in Green Bay."

American Bible Society Presents will broadcast the Cup O' Joy episode during the last week of April and will focus on the community aspect of the venue. American Bible Society Presents is syndicated nationally and broadcasts in different time slots and on different days depending on what part of the country, you live in so check with the website listed at the bottom of this article for the time and day in your location.

Jarczak explained the show's format, "The episodes are one half hour in length. This season is a little bit like Sixty Minutes or Dateline. The host introduces the stories and then we go to the locations. We will do three different stories per episode and Paul (the host) will interview someone like the Cup O' Joy, a cancer ministry or The Fellowship of Christian Magicians. We have three different stories per episode.  They run anywhere from four to six minutes each. This is the only music venue that we have done so far. We are trying to hit as many different kinds of things as we can. Obviously by episode twenty we will be repeating some topics but we are trying to keep the content as varied as possible."

Over the years, the Cup O' Joy has grown from a venue that was originally located in the inner city of Green Bay to a stage that has attracted Paul Colman, Sara Groves, Building429, Bethany Dillon, Downhere, Ginny Owens, Gretchen, Randy Stonehill and many other top performers.

The Cup was not started as merely a place to hear good music but as an outreach to those who do not know, Jesus Christ as their personal savior, and the volunteers have remained firmly focused on that quest.

Perhaps Steve Jarczak said it best, "It says a lot about the power of people to unite around an idea and around something that they believe in."

"We feel that the Cup is a blessing and we are always excited when somebody else discovers that too. We do not (attract a lot of) press so it is fun for us to see others catch the vision. I think that is what we all thought (about the filming). When somebody out of the blue has a special interest (in the Cup) we think, 'they get it, they see it, said Jan O.

Jan O added, "Isn't it neat how God builds things. It is His plan and not ours. He usually comes up with better ideas than I could to promote something or let people know about things. I think that the biggest thing people could learn from the Cup is that by working together you can really make a difference in the community. Through Christ you can put together something that really does touch people on an ongoing basis."

By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved

Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague. 



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