FCC and LOGOS Faith Development aid churches in transforming properties for affordable housing and community gardens
Even before COVID-19 hit, many churches were struggling to maintain their property and the pandemic made the prospect much harder. But, Faith Community Coalition aims to transform that outlook by helping South Los Angeles worship centers sustain and even expand their ministries.
The coalition is comprised of an ecumenical group of pastors and faith leaders focused on identifying financial and human resources to aid ministries in addressing issues such as affordable housing and food deserts throughout South L.A., said the Rev. John Cager, FCC president and pastor of Ward AME Church.
“We have so many churches that are land-rich and cash-poor,” Cager explained. “When something catastrophic happens, they either have to sell the church or end up losing their churches because they mortgage them. We’re trying to stop that cycle in South Los Angeles.”
With that intention in mind, FCC, in conjunction with strategic partner/funder LOGOS Faith Development, has reaped a few successes. LOGOS is a development project organization that connects builders, funders and others with churches. The combined efforts of FCC and LOGOS has resulted in positive outcomes for St. Mark United Methodist, Bethel AME and Harvest Tabernacle Bible Churches, all in South L.A.
St. Mark UMC already had a community garden and LOGOS awarded the church a grant to expand it. The church plans to sell the produce that they will grow at Farmer’s Markets that are frequented by local residents. It will especially benefit neighborhoods that lack nearby supermarkets, noted Cager.
“Churches can help fill that gap by providing the same fresh produce that’s available to folks on the Westside and making it available in South L.A.,” he said.
Harvest Tabernacle, once a thriving congregation in Southeast Los Angeles, was saddled with an aging building needing multiple repairs and a declining, commuter membership. The pastor and church leaders decided to put the property to better use by constructing affordable housing on the site.
“They’re going to do is to build a facility [with] a grocery store on the first floor (there’s no grocery stores in the area) and four levels [of] housing. It’s going to be state-of-the-art,” Cager said, adding that Harvest Tabernacle will use the proceeds from the new development to purchase another building as their edifice.
“But, they will still own the property. They’re not selling it, but developing it and will get perpetual income from that property,” he said.
A similar project is underway at Bethel AME. The church will erect a housing complex on their existing parking lot, which will include underground parking containing more spaces than they currently have on the above ground lot.
“The beauty of that is not only will it be a perpetual source of income for the church, but they will own that property and fully participate in all of the revenue. Plus, they’ve already gotten money from the project to renovate their church,” cited Cager.
FCC also offers free bi-monthly Zoom workshops called a flourishing series. This year, the theme is “Flourishing After the Pandemic” and in June, the Rev. Dr. Myles McPherson of The Rock Church in San Francisco will be the guest speaker. As the spiritual leader of the 18,000-member ministry, McPherson will share insight on “building better ministry coming out of the pandemic,” said Cager.
Last month, Pastor H.B. Charles Jr., of Shiloh Metropolitan Church in Jacksonville, Florida discussed how to build up people after the pandemic. In February, Pastor Sidney Williams of Bethel Church in Morristown, New Jersey outlined methods for churches to expand revenues.
“Churches who want to get involved with FCC or get an assessment [about their property] can reach out to us via Facebook or phone or email. I also encourage pastors and faith leaders to visit us on Facebook and YouTube every other month, six times a year, for our flourishing series,” said Cager.
To learn more, contact The Faith Community Coalition at (424) 282-5349 or on Facebook or email [email protected]