Well, sometimes when you wish something to come true… it does!

I remember the very first time I saw the buildings known as Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  It was May of 2000 and our friend, the Rev. David Bahr, who was pastor of Archwood UCC at the time, was showing Craig and me around Cleveland.  We were visiting from New York City and were interviewing at the United Church of Christ National Offices for positions in their newly restructured denomination.  I had received an early call from the Rev. Jayne Ryan Kuroiwa, then Associate Regional Minister for the Christian Church in Ohio, about the possibility of being a “Redevelopment Pastor” for one of the open and viable congregations in the Region.  One being Franklin Circle Christian Church.

So… David, being a good clergy colleague, brought us to see this church I may or may not be considered by or called to.  I remember thinking a couple of things.  First, with its size and placement on the site it looked like a fortress.  (The yellowed and cloudy plastic covering on the stained glass windows didn’t help with this perception).  But I also remember the words on the sign board out front: “We Are Not A Museum!”  I thought (out loud, I believe), “Thou protesteth too much!!!”

It was then, or shortly thereafter, that I made my magic wish.  “I think it is a crime for a church, especially an urban church in a neighborhood in need, to be unused most of the time.  A church should be considered and used as a community center with lots of different activities and opportunities going on inside and around it.  And not all have to be church-related!

Well, yesterday and today are an incredible tribute to that wish coming true.  Last night, there were at least five things going on in our facilities: the Olin Mills Church Directory Portrait photography sessions; the Near West Side Yoga group; the Board of Election training for today’s Election; the Youth Group meeting; and a meeting for InterAct Cleveland, which has its offices in our space.  Wow!  Today, we’ve got the Election going on in the gym (and by the way: LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE VOTING!!!), the Women’s Outreach Center has their session going on, the photography sessions continue, and the Elders will be meeting tonight.  That’s in addition to some regular church stuff!

I must say, this did not start with me, and it is not happening only because of me.  Years before I happened upon the buildings in 2000, this church was known as a community church.  In fact, if records are accurate, our Community Building was built in 1915-16 in order to serve the community more fully! We’ve had everything from a Montessori School, to a Senior Meal Program, to a Boy Scout Troup, to the offices of the local American Indian group, to Covenant Teen Alcohol & Drug Rehabilitation Program, to… to… to…  Well, you get my point.

And I also must give kudos to Al Betts, Chair of the Official Church Board and Upkeep Team Chairperson.  His vision of what a church should be melds so well with mine, that we work in tandem with each other.  To be honest, it is his hard work and nurture that makes it possible for all of this to take place.  We would not be a polling site if he were not on board and in charge of the facilities!

So, let me advise you… be careful what you wish for.  You just may get it!

God’s Grace Is Abundant!

Pastor Allen