INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Eastern Star Church opened 100 years ago during one pandemic and now the church is powering through another.
While a lot seems to have stayed the same over the years, a lot has also changed.
On top of the church’s ministry is the Rebuilding our Community for the Kingdom, or ROCK. The initiative provides access to affordable housing, financial literacy and other resources.
For one century, Eastern Star Church has made the Arlington Woods community its home. With the average yearly salary in the Arlington Woods community at about $25,000, church leaders said the initiative is vital work to help build up the community.
Senior Pastor Jeffrey Johnson said the walls of the church at 5750 E. 30th St. have stood to see the ongoing fight for social justice and two pandemics, the 1918 flu pandemic and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During this crisis, we’ve tried to step up what we do in community and come alongside and help people,” he said.
The community has never been one of the wealthiest in the city, but, Johnson said, the church has tried to create wealth in community, particularly through the ROCK initiative.
“With the ROCK initiative we sought to enhance community, financial literacy, education and housing.”
The ROCK initiative has helped fund home renovations, a food market, new apartments, and the building of affordable homes.
“Growing up, my mom used to say every time we lived in an apartment, when you leave, all you really have is a box of receipts for what you paid,” said Ma’at Lands.
She grew up in the community and now owns one of the homes built under the initiative.
“Purchasing a home is a huge thing. It’s something that’s permanent. So for me, I wanted to do this with people that I trusted.”
She said the church’s commitment to community trickles down through the congregation and motivates others who want to see the community grow.
“Somebody prepared a way for you and I. So, now we feel like we need to continue to create opportunities for Black and brown people,” Johnson said.
Church leaders say for every new house built here in Indianapolis, a new house in Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, is also built.