Author of Today’s Post is Kristin
What an amazing day it has been. The journey to see God at work among the Church of All People has begun. The welcoming style was incredibly evident by the greeting we received from Paul, a long-time attendee. He gave each and every one of us a huge welcoming hug along with an ear to ear smile as our mission group entered the breakfast room, just off of the sanctuary. It was clear that Paul made it his endeavor to achieve a smile from all he encountered, and to be sure that all felt the “family connection” as they attended this amazing church, and it’s service, where all came to show their love and devotion to God. While attending the service, it was clear that this church truly encompassed “All People”, those who were homeless, struggling financially, facing addictions and mental health issues, along with those who would be considered “middle to upper class.” Although these differences may separate us in our “typical daily lives” in many areas of the country, there was an undeniable bond that was seen throughout the congregation by the care and love shown to one another. Our group had the opportunity to engage with the members, while eating breakfast, hearing their prideful statements about the different aspects of the church from the Free Store, to the Fresh Market, the Bike Shop and the affordable housing projects. An eclectic array of music clearly joined everyone during worship as people sang, clapped, shook their tambourines and shouted out Amen along with the enthusiastic music. The topic of the sermon was on being in the present, letting go of the past, not worrying about the future. We all need to allow ourselves to enjoy this “gift”, also known as, “the present”, that we sometimes are too busy to appreciate. Oh how true this is for each and every one of us, and what a lovely reminder to those engaged in this adventure, to be in the moment, while being hands and feet of Jesus this week.
Their pastor has stated in a US News and World Report Article, written 10/9/18, “From a Vicious Cycle of Poverty to a Virtuous Circle of Success.”, as a description for how the Church of All People has viewed it’s ministry and mission for the city of Columbus, OH. We heard from a regular attendee on this very topic. She went from a homeless resident of Columbus 5 years ago, to a role as a church assistant with their breakfast program on Sunday mornings. She now has stable housing and a stable job, working as a security officer, ironically protecting employees from the homeless they encounter in the parking lots as they come and go, whom they have admitted they are afraid to be around. Gwen finds this role to be perfectly suited for her, as she can understand the concern voiced by the employees, and can do her job to protect, but also provide enlightenment about this group of people, who some refer to as “The invisible”. Their voices count just as much as the next person, their souls are just as virtuous as ours, and their love of God, the dreams they possess and their desire to belong is no different than our own. What a beautiful gift to all, and especially for Gwen, who has helped bridge that gap, while allowing it to support her and bring her an opportunity to enter the “circle of success.”
We were also very blessed to have a tour of the affordable housing work that has been done. This is no small feat, as there have been $80 million dollars worth of rehabilitation and construction of housing over the last 13 years. Rent or mortgages are often $300-$500 monthly, making those with limited incomes able to live comfortably within their communities. Their philosophy is that everything is an asset, nothing is a deficit, which has allowed them to take boarded up, abandoned homes, and turn rows and rows of such homes, into a gorgeous street of beautifully painted, landscaped and safe houses. This offers an opportunity to those who would otherwise not have been able to live in such circumstances, and helps to rehabilitate neighborhoods that were dying, into neighborhoods that are thriving.
Our eyes have been opened to the beauty of community among all of God’s people, a gift to this city and all who have been a part of the projects this church has undertaken. We are very excited to embark on our week of developing relationships, contributing to lightening the load of volunteers for the Fresh Market, Free Market and improving the housing issues for one special lady, Mary, a congregant of this amazing church.