1 We learned earlier this year your church was buying the former YWCA campus on Wells Street – what has happened with the property since then?
Since taking ownership on Feb. 26, we have had an outpouring of internal church volunteerism that kick-started the renovation process. We have begun improvements to the grounds, have made substantial changes to some of the interior spaces, and are well into the replacement of nearly all the heating and air conditioning systems of the large main building. Ultimately, we anticipate that the sale of our Wallen Road facility will provide the funds needed to not only complete these projects, but also several other major improvements. In all of this, our desire is to return as many features of the campus to their original condition as much as possible, given the options that are available today.
2 Your two locations – Wallen Road and the near-downtown campus – are in very different types of neighborhoods. Why were you interested in being close to the central city?
While our church has existed since 1959 on Wallen Road, its local roots go back to Immanuel Baptist Church, which was located at Hessen Cassel (Road) and McKinnie (Avenue). A large part of Immanuel's vision was to view our entire city as the neighbors we are biblically commanded to love. Our conviction to uphold and enhance that vision has outgrown our facilities at Wallen Road. So, God willing, our move to Wells Street will allow us and future generations to not only continue, but expand on the vision to serve our city and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are very excited about the future and how our new campus might serve as a center for Christian ministries, not only locally for Fort Wayne, but regionally and around the world.
3 Your church has been supportive of Fort Wayne United and other inner-city ministries. How will the second location assist you in those programs?
Our hope is that our new location will allow us to dive deeper into our ongoing relationship with the Fort Wayne United initiative, coming alongside them with Christ-centered ministries. As we continue to learn more about the lingering consequences that racial turmoil has had on our friends, brothers and sisters, we are convinced that the message of Christ has answers for our culture's questions, including those that revolve around racial difficulties. We acknowledge that we have not always lived up to the high standard that the Bible has set for us regarding many issues. But we are committed to becoming a church that will genuinely seek to apply our savior's message of loving our neighbor to everyone ... always. That message begins with the hope of salvation for anyone and everyone who believes in Christ and his Gospel, and can be lived out through meaningful partnerships like Fort Wayne United.
4 Initially, some residents near the Wells Street location were apprehensive about the church's plans for the site. Have those concerns been addressed?
In fairness to the neighbors, we recognize that we are the new kid on the block. So, why would they not be apprehensive about us, considering that we are an unknown to them? Our responsibility is to earn our place as a trusted part of the neighborhood, not barge in as an outside interloper. But that takes time and shared experiences. We know the Wells Street area is a great place already, and we are honored to now be a part of it. We are convinced that the future for the area is bright, and we are eager to be contributors to that future. So far, we have been able to participate in The Great American Cleanup held in May. We have also begun to host the Bloomingdale Neighborhood Association meetings, and we are hosting a July 4th block party. (More on that below.) These are the beginnings of what we hope will be decades of neighborhood camaraderie. And increasingly positive feedback from the neighborhood is reinforcing that hope.
5 Headwaters Church on Wells has a big celebration set for July 4. What do you have planned for Thursday?
Our July 4th block party is an opportunity to gather the neighborhood to enjoy some food, music and fun leading up to the city's annual fireworks show. Our Wells Street campus provides great views of the fireworks, which will be launched from atop the Indiana Michigan Power Center just a few blocks away. Our party kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday with traditional American grill and Latino foods. Live music sets will start around 6:30. We'll also have popcorn, bounce houses for the kids, yard games and more. The big fireworks show then starts at 10 p.m. (We ask that no fireworks be brought on site.)