The two organizations celebrated the arrangement with a ribbon cutting and Sunday dinner on July 17. They said the transfer of the building, which took place by quit-claim deed on March 23, is a welcome solution to both their needs. The small church – though active in feeding the community – had grown too small for the 20,000-square-foot main building at 2800 Archwood Avenue and the 1,700-square-foot parsonage next to it.
And Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center – a tenant at Archwood since 2018 and at other West Side locations before that – wanted a home with plenty of room to grow.
Archwood UCC, which turns 203 years old this month, had more than 1,000 members back in the mid-20th century, before interstate highways carved up the neighborhood. “We knew our congregation had become significantly smaller over the past 20 years,” said the church’s moderator, Judy Schumann, a lifelong member of the congregation. “How could we continue our ministry and help our neighbors when our membership and financial resources were not what they had been? What was the next new thing that God was calling us to do?”
Starting in 2014, the church undertook a detailed self-assessment, aided by the wider UCC’s “New Beginnings” program. “For us here at Archwood, the mission itself was pretty clear,” Schumann said. “We wanted to continue to serve our neighborhood in significant and timely ways. We felt called to further develop our ministry around issues of food insecurity. But what else could we do and how could we make use of one of our best resources – our huge, historic building – a building that was definitely being underused?
“It was at that time that we began to explore the somewhat radical idea of eventually giving the building away to an organization that would be able to make use of this resource and use it to serve the community.”
The church engaged the Metro West Community Development Organizationin a study of the property. Metro West suggested the church connect with the Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center. In 2018, the Center became a tenant in the church building. “Though it has only been four years since we moved into this building, it feels as if this has always been our home,” said Letitia Lopez, executive director of Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center. “And now we are so very grateful to call this beautiful neighborhood gem our forever home. From the moment we were introduced to this congregation, we knew that this was the right place and fit for us. We were welcomed in – not as tenants, but as partners in this journey that has led us here today.”
She said the center’s programming has grown “from two programs and two signature events each year to over 10 programs, dozens of workshops and six signature events annually.” A recent addition, she said, is “Unidos por el Arte, a much-needed artist initiative that now has a growing list of over 220 local Latino artists of all disciplines. … What was once the parsonage is now a home for our artists, where they can showcase their art, create in one of four studio spaces and develop their teaching skills by hosting workshops and talks. Last year alone we were able to directly support 38 artists in that space.” And the former church gym is now a dance studio with mirrors and ballet barres.
The church remains active – not only with worship at 11 a.m. each Sunday, but also with a low-cost produce sale in the basement twice a month and connections with other community organizations. It contributes meals, for example, to Denison Avenue UCC for its varied programs.
And, meantime, it’s glad for the historic building’s new vitality. “We have seen Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center offer a wide variety of arts programming to our diverse neighborhood and surrounding communities,” Schumann said. “There is life in the building once again – not just on Sunday mornings.” “We have filled every bit of this building not just with our belongings but with lots of laughter, life and community,” Lopez said. “So much has been accomplished here, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.”
Mask Policy Update Archwood will, following CDC recommendations, go to a mask optional policy for in-person worship. You may be unmasked providing you feel well and are symptom free. Masks will still be offered for those who prefer to use them, and we respectfully ask that you consider zoom-attendance if you are unwell. Please know that this policy is fluid – meaning that we will resume masking if so advised, or if local rates warrant it.
DONATIONS of BOTTLED WATER NEEDED! NorthEast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) is in need of bottled water-(single serving sized) for their outreach services to our homeless neighbors. If you can help, please contact them (Toni Burton-Mickey) at 216-432-0540. You may drop off any amount of bottled water or other needed supplies Item Donations — Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (neoch.org) at their offices, 3631 Perkins Ave, Suite 3A-3, Cleveland, OH 44114, M-F from 9am-5pm. Or contact the church office. Thank you for helping our vulnerable neighbors!
Pay to Stay Legislation Support NEOCH is organizing housing advocates across Cleveland to make an impact in city hall, and they need your help - they’re looking for at least 50 advocates to commit to contacting their city legislators and/or make public comment at city hall to push for Source of Income protections and Pay to Stay legislation to protect Cleveland renters, especially low-income renters. To sign up to be one of these 50 advocates, or just to find more information, click here.
Next produce sale: August 14 Archwood UCC sells produce to the public at discount prices on the second and fourth weekends of each month from 11am to 1pm. Without a supermarket or farmer’s market in our neighborhood, we’re doing our bit to offer fresh fruits and vegetables that can otherwise be hard to find. We also offer free breakfasts at these sales. Interested? Questions? Contact us!
Podcast Recommendation New Faith New Media is an independent media network discussing faith with a social justice lens. It currently features three podcasts - one of which is by our very own Aidan McCormack! Aidan’s show is called Breaking Fast, and it’s available to listen to on https://anchor.fm/nfnm. Check it out - and while you’re there, give the other two shows in the network a listen too!
Past Weeks’ Sermons Previous sermons can be viewed on YouTube. Sermons from Aidan McCormack can be viewed on Aidan’s YouTube, and sermons from George Graham can be viewed on Archwood UCC’s YouTube.
Two Ways to Give to Archwood United Church of Christ Covid-19 is keeping us physically apart, but Archwood UCC remains committed to strengthening our connection to God and to one another through virtual worship and prayer. Support this work by joining us Sunday morning for worship and consider chipping in with a financial contribution in one of two ways:
Make a check out to Archwood UCC. Put “Offering” in the subject line and mail it to 2800 Archwood Ave., Cleveland, OH 44109.
Send money via Venmo to @Archwood-UCC
Thank you for your support!
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