Sunday, February 17, 2008

John Wallace Rebuilding Homewood Block by Block

Kudos to John M. Wallace, pastor of the Bible Center Church of God in Christ (Homewood section of Pittsburgh). This Rev. is also a noted PhD. Rev. Dr. Wallace’s day job is Associate Professor of Social Work (Univ. of Pittsburgh). Wallace’s research and ministry focuses on the role of faith-based organizations in the revitalization of urban communities.

Wallace is not just all talk. Wallace invites members of his congregation and willing college students to join him in cleaning up the Homewood area of Pittsburgh. You’ll find Wallace leaving his Bennett Street church on Saturday mornings, broom and trash bag in hand, to embark on some heavy duty beautifying. It gets even better—Wallace also delivers small gifts to the residents of Homewood (a bottle of water or a small snack). All that he asks for in return is their prayer requests. Wow!

And it doesn’t stop there. Wallace’s congregation is buying up vacants around his church and renovating them. The renovation efforts are done in conjunction with his youth program. Youth pitch in on the renovation, learning some useful skills along the way, and in the end they get their very own youth center. By the way, they aren’t building a run-of-the-mill youth center. This one is all about empowerment and development. For example, art classes will be offered. A barbershop and hair-braiding salon is on tap. A recording studio is going in there too.

Homewood could use more Wallaces. The neighborhood is tough—too many shootings and other violence, too much drugs, too little economic growth, and too little attention paid to this community’s strengths and heroes.

Sisterdoc knows of what she writes. Upland Street, Formosa Way, and Braddock Avenue was once home. Sure, there was (and is) blight; but Sisterdoc also remembers that her house, built of brick, has stained glass windows, and that it has architecture you can’t find in homes anymore. The streets are wide and level. And somehow the hilly South Side with its claustrophobic alleyways is seen as “prime” property these days?!

I believe in what the Rev. Dr. Wallace is doing. Why not stop by the Bible Center Church of God in Christ at 7236 Bennett and tell him that you do too.

(Image: 7340 Frankstown Ave., Homewood)


Anonymous said...

I whole heartedly support John Wallace and his endeavor. I visit Pittsburgh weekly and am familiar with Homewood. If I can volunteer, ler me know how.

Read the in-depth article on Prfessor Wallace in the Fall 2008 PITT magazine. This lead me to search him out on the inernet and ultimately to this site

Sisterdoc said...

Anonymous: Yes, what Wallace and others are doing for Pittsburgh is fantastic! Thanks for the Pitt Magazine tip. If you meet him, you might want to share this blog entry and the Magazine article with him. Very often we are hit with complaints, but rarely do people share with us the 'thank you's'.