“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”
– Vince Lombardi
FULFILLMENT is an interesting word. It expresses the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted. It also conveys the meeting of a requirement or condition, or the performance of a task, duty or role as required, pledged, or expected. Sherman and I are at the intersection of those definitions as we embark upon the next leg of our ministerial journey. On April 12th, at 11:00 am, we launch The Warehouse church in Over The Rhine in Downtown, Cincinnati. We’ll occupy the former Nast Trinity building at 1310 Race Street across from Washington Park in the heart of the City. We’ve worked to restore the inside of the building for months. This was prophetically spoken years ago, and LORD’s Word is being fulfilled in 2020, glory to God!
When the name “The Warehouse,” was revealed, I was not aware of its history. In 2001, race riots occurred in Cincinnati after 19- year-old Timothy Thomas was shot and killed in Over the Rhine by Steven Roach, a police officer. Thomas, an African-American wanted for 14 minor warrants – mostly traffic violations, had just left a local club called ‘The Warehouse.’ A chase ensued which ended with the officer shooting the unarmed young man in the heart in a dead-end alley. It was the 15th African-American man dead at the hands of police in 5 years in the City, which ignited days of civil unrest and a citywide curfew. We as clergy were called in to help to minister to the hurting and angry. I remember standing between rioters and mounted police on Central Ave in the midst of the conflict. Sherman and I were serving at different congregations at the time. An historic collaborative agreement between citizens and police ensued, as did a plan for gentrification. The economic and ethnic polarization of our community continues. We believe these divisions can only be overcome by the power of God, and His loving community.
Almost 20 years later, we are planting a multi-ethnic, inter-generational
and multi-class church called The Warehouse in the same community. Finding fulfillment is not synonymous with finding ease. God calls us to do hard things and the cross to which Jesus calls us is not self-fulfillment, but self-denial. (Matt.16:24) The LORD has always planned to unite those who believe across ethnic lines. The unity and love we have for one another through Christ is meant to be a redemptive witness to the world. (John 17:20-23) God created only one race – the human race. The divisions we experience are a social construct of man’s sinful devising. This type of enmity also existed in the Bible, but God’s purpose in Christ was and is to break down ethnic barriers and create One New Humanity of Kingdom Citizens:
14For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. (Eph. 2:14-16)
What Christ did for the Jews and Gentiles, we believe is possible for the deepest ethnic divides in America. We not only want to see Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream fulfilled…we want to see God’s dream fulfilled.
“I speak of peace, while covert enmity under the smile of safety wounds the world.” – William Shakespeare ENMITY – is the state or feeling of being actively opposed or