Slavic Village Restoration Effort


Several years ago when Cuyahoga Valley Church was navigating a lead pastor transition, we felt the need to refresh mission, values, strategy, and vision. Will Mancini, the Founder of Auxano, led us though a process that helped us articulate our uniqueness in a way that valued the old and welcomed the new. We discovered that our Kingdom Concept involved a restoration of the brokenness in NE Ohio.

During one of the creative sessions with Will, members of our leadership team expressed a passion to be used by God to see a city block in a decaying community restored. That passion for the renewal of a broken community has increased. God has even given us a key passage of scripture that helps to focus us.

“They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations” Isaiah 61:4

We have adopted an urban area just north of us, Slavic Village, as a community where we want to focus our resources for restoration. In the words of Acts 1:8, it’s our Judea.

In the summer of 2007, according to RealtyTrac, Cleveland’s 44105 ZIP, Slavic Village, was the hardest hit community for foreclosures in the entire United States.

Over the past few years, Cuyahoga Valley Church (CVC) has had a holistic approach toward restoration in Slavic Village. We sponsored the planting of two churches in Slavic Village, Jones Road Chapel under the leadership of Joe Jaworski and Forward Church under the leadership of Jeff Bodziony – both former CVCers. Volunteers from CVC regularly support Jeff and Joe in a variety of ways.

Also, we have been sending volunteers to Slavic Village as reading tutors at the Imagine Cleveland Academy. Plus CVC attenders, Tom and Sue Wagner lead a monthly fruit and vegetable give-away to over 200 families in collaboration with the Cleveland Food Bank. While, Lynn Powers, another CVC attender, conducts job-training seminars for Slavic Village residents.Elizabeth Baptist Church (as well as Forward Church) in Slavic Village is participating in a Church Unique co::LAB that we’re hosting at CVC.

Now, we are serving with The City Mission and several area churches to restore a house on Indiana Avenue in Slavic Village. Under an initiative called New Horizons, the Cuyahoga Land Bank will provide deeply discounted homes to sponsoring churches which will acquire the home for families transitioning from Laura’s Home, a mission to provide safety and resources for women and families in crisis.

“‘New Horizons’ is a model which provides permanent housing and ongoing support services for families in need,” says Cuyahoga Land Bank President Gus Frangos.

“In our efforts to help families move from crisis to independent living, the most significant challenge we face is the lack of affordable housing. This partnership has the potential to effectively address that issue and at the same time provide so much more – security, stability and hope for the future,” said The City Mission CEO Richard Trickel. “The City Mission is thrilled to be working in partnership with the Cuyahoga Land Bank and the local church community impacting lives one family at a time.”

CVC is partnering with Renew Communities, Hope Christian Church, and The City Mission to acquire the property from the Cuyahoga Land Bank. We identified a General Contractor, Mike Smith, from Church on the Rise to coordinate renovation efforts through volunteer tradesmen and church parishioners.Forward Church‘s Jeff Bodziony, Jones Road Chapel‘s Joe Jaworski, and Elizabeth Baptist Church’s Richard Gibson – all leaders in Slavic Village – are also leveraging their leadership to help with the project.

The woman we’re serving is a City Mission/Laura’s Home graduate. She has also been mentored through The Open Table led by members of Grace Church in Middleburg Heights. Brian Upton of Building Hope in the City (with the counsel and leadership of Garnett Slatton of Bay Presbyterian) is launching Building Hope through Housing, an organization that can manage the ownership and the selling of the properties for all parties involved. The City Mission will provide “wrap-around services,” including case management, job placement, mental health and other wellness services. These services are tailored to strengthen families and allow families in crises to get a fresh start and become productive.

As for CVC, in 2016, it’s our hope that we will be working with many area churches to renovate 5-6 houses on a city block in Slavic Village. In 2017, our dream is to restore 8-10 houses. Ultimately, we want to see an entire block restored.

God is graciously allowing us to participate in His work of restoration of Slavic Village.

“They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations” Isaiah 61:4