Last Sunday, Rev. Charles Jenkins made a real estate announcement of biblical proportions to the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church: The historic Chicago congregation is now the owner of a 14.5-acre site that was once the headquarters for the Soft Sheen beauty products company. In an extraordinary display of philanthropy, the foundation of Hobby Lobby, a national arts and crafts chain, donated the landmark property to the church.
The congregation is implementing a mixed-use development strategy that is expected to bring four hundred jobs to the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago. The total estimated cost of the project is $26 million and includes plans to construct a new church, school, health and wellness center, youth services, a casual dining restaurant, and seven retail stores. The development strategy emerges from an initiative called the Legacy Project, which seeks to “build people and community focusing on personal growth, job creation, education, youth development, healthcare, economic development, and community empowerment.”
The dynamic ministry of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church embodies the wisdom of Jeremiah 29:7, which instructs us to “seek the welfare of the city … for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jenkins echoed this scriptural sentiment in his remarks:
“The church is committed to working toward reducing unemployment, crime, and violence, rising resident morale, and providing hope to the community overall,” Jenkins said. “This donation is the first I have heard of in this community and one of many examples of God blessing our effort and dedication to serving Chicago.”
Congratulations to Fellowship Church on acquiring the site and being an example of holistic Christian community development.