Would your church convert the parsonage into affordable housing for sober living? What about tearing up the church lawn and replacing the grass to plant crops for the neighborhood? How about turning the garage into a bike shop? Perhaps providing the "unemployable" with job training is something your church would consider.
These are just a few ways Calvary Hilltop Church is redefining community in the North College Hill area of Cincinnati.
"This is the Christian Community living out their faith through the gifts and talents of the community," said Pastor Thomas Hargis, who is appointed to Calvary Hilltop 10 hours a week. "We live into the abundance of what we have," he said.
The rest of his time, Hargis leads Jubilee, a Christian community that operates on revitalization and economic sustainability. Jubilee is sustained from the work it does in the community. Since 2016, Jubilee has completed over $2 million in community revitalization. It was seeded by an initial grant from the Ohio River Valley District Mission Foundation. Jubilee hires people from the community who some may feel are unemployable, people coming out of alcohol and drug treatment, or persons who were previously incarcerated. Jubilee's employees learn trade skills from electrical, plumbing, drywall and carpentry skills to driving farm and construction equipment.
According to Hargis, Christian Communities should be a benefit to the neighborhoods they inhabit. Now, Jubilee's model of revitalization and economic sustainability has helped the church with its revitalization plan. Jubilee partnered with Calvary Hilltop to help revitalize the church by providing at cost construction and leading mission teams through its partnerships throughout the connection. This fall, Calvary Hilltop plans to launch a new learning center.
"Our goal is to utilize 75% of the church's property to benefit the community. At this point we are close to 50% and with new community projects launching this fall, we will should meet our goal," he said.
Some of their successes include feeding 1,200 children per day (in partnership with UMC Food Ministry), donating 600 pounds of food from their farm, providing affordable, transitional housing, distribution of 200 bikes to children in the neighborhood, and 1,200 pounds of clean laundry for those who could not afford fees charged at a local laundromat.
"I am excited to be living out God's call on my life," Hargis said.
To learn more about Calvary Hilltop and Jubilee, contact thomas.e.hargis [at] gmail.com (Pastor Hargis).