The first thing you see when you walk out the front doors of the Church for All People is a drive thru liquor store. Since our vision is to create a “whole, healthy, and engaged community” it is ironic to walk out the doors of a place seeking to bring abundant health and see a place that targets low income people trapped in addiction. On January 1st, the liquor store went out of business. The neon signs advertising beer and tobacco went dark and the building became another abandoned property on Parsons Avenue. But instead of seeing blight, this presented opportunity.
Parsons Avenue Redevelopment Corporation recently purchased the property. The market will be leased to Community Development for All People as the new home for our Fresh Market. The market will move across the street, increasing our square footage from 700 feet to 1,900 feet, giving us the ability to store food longer in refrigeration, and transforming a “beer cave” in to a wellness classroom. While the abandoned property has been a place that has accumulated trash and overgrown weeds, a plaza is being designed that will host social, community-building activities around healthy food.
A place that once took from people and limited life will become a place that increases food access, builds relationships, and reduces health disparities.
At the same time that plans are being made to transform a liquor store in to a fresh market, an abandoned corner has become an urban orchard. The corner of Kossuth and Carpenter was once the location of an empty lot known for illegal activities. Next to the vacant lot stood a dilapidated and condemned home. Both properties were acquired by the Columbus Land Bank and sold to Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Healthy Neighborhood, Healthy Family program.
Today, dozens of community partners gathered together around this once derelict corner as a sign of vibrancy and engagement. The “Urban Forest at Southern Orchards” includes 13 fruit trees and 13 raised garden beds that will provide food for the neighborhood and build relationships among the community. Children who once walked passed this corner and saw blight now see life.
From Genesis to Revelation, God is described as the one who makes all things new.
In our work, this is not only seen in rebuilt homes and repurposed buildings, but in restored lives. Every day I see people who have been transformed from addiction to sobriety, unemployment to working, hungry to fed, prideful to humble, lost to found, and selfish to loving.
God is truly working to make all things new, including us.