Today I’d like to go into more of an opinion piece that will possibly stir up some controversy within the Lutheran community. I’d like to talk about the idea of church-associated and run businesses, and why I believe they are where churches should be headed towards in the future.
Obviously there are many opinions out there regarding the ethics of this, and whether the church should be ‘in business’. I would like to address some of those, as well as some of the advantages of the church sponsoring and helping more of these types of organizations.
Our friends at the United Gospel Church in Eastern Toronto are proud to unveil the grand opening of their brand new thrift store in the same area in Eastern Toronto! They are located at 1430 E. 220th Ave and Demascus St.
The opening of the store will mark a new start and a new chapter in this low income neighborhood, and will hopefully be a catalyst for change in this neighborhood. For too many years, street gangs have run wild here, bringing drugs into our fair city, participating in vandalism and theft, and increasing the overall hostility towards the African American community.
The building that the new thrift store is located in is a historical building in Toronto, and was built all the way back in the 1920’s. It was originally built as a paper mill, and was running continuously since its creation, until production halted in 1976 because of market and industry conditions.
Rupert Moss remembers the mill fondly – “I remember going down to the mill as a young man, and working the swing shift from 11pm – 8am, making sure all of the paper got through those machines. Back in those days, there were no such thing as labor laws, so they worked us to the bone. But it always brought great money into the neighborhood, so we put up with it.”
He continues, “I’m so glad to see the old building finally used for something productive now! It’s great to not have another building just rot away with time.”.
The church initially purchased the property on foreclosure back in 1995, and have been sitting on it, deciding on direction since. The church administrators have told us that the building itself wasn’t in bad shape, but the internal systems such as electrical and hot water needed a lot of work.
The church voted on the idea to restore the old building back in May of 2009, and have been working since on raising money, cleaning and gutting the existing building, and remodeling it to acceptable and safe current standards.
Helping the Community
The main purpose of the building is to raise up the surrounding community to a higher economic standing. It will create about 50 new jobs in an area that really doesn’t have much going for it now.
A portion of the building will also go into creating a community center for the neighborhood kids, and will feature a classroom, hangout room, and activities room for engaging the youth. Funding for the community center is being split between the church and local government outreach.
Earning Money for the Church
The other purpose for creating the Thrift store was to create another stream of income for the church. Over the years, as church member age has increased, giving has decreased, so the church has been looking at alternative ways to fundraise for a number of years now.
They initially made the jump into property ownership and rental back in 2005, and have since acquired over 7 new properties in low-income areas that have been converted into prosperous businsses.
So if you are looking for a new (old) pair of pants or shirt, stop on by at the new United Gospel Thrift Shop!