Plans are underway to reopen a former church in Fairborn as a youth and family center to serve residents in Greene, Clark and Montgomery counties.
A rent-to-purchase contract has been signed with California-based CDF Holdings LLC, the owners of the former Emanuel Ministries property, 206 W. Dayton-Yellow Springs Road, according to the buyer, Pastor Ancil Carter of Victory Temple.
The church campus, which sits on nearly three acres and features a carpeted gymnasium, large kitchen and dining facilities as well multiple rooms and offices, is valued at more than $2 million, according to the Greene County Auditor’s Office.
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The property has been vacant for a few years. Carter, who will be celebrating his 95th birthday in July, said he had the original section of the church built in 1963 and led a congregation there for three decades. He said he sold it to the current owners and now has worked out a deal to buy it back.
The facilities will be opened next month as a youth and family center. Carter said they are looking for volunteers and donations, but the plans are to make the location a destination place for hundreds of children, teenagers and their parents in the tri-county region.
“We’re not going to babysit. But we’re asking the parents to bring the little fellows, and while we teach them and train them, we’ll have something for the parents to do,” said Carter. “Our first thing to do is to lay a foundation with the young children and the mothers and the teenagers.”
Carter said he is answering a spiritual calling that has been tugging at his heart for about a year, quoting the Bible passage in which Jesus tells his apostles, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”
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“I feel in my heart the lord wants me to start,” he said. “Anybody we talk to, seems like their heart is touched that they should volunteer to help. I feel that when we get started, we will have plenty help, and plenty of people to carry out.”
Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said Pastor Carter has reached out to him on a few occasions to talk about his plans.
Fischer said coordinating through a family resource center may be a good plan for the potential youth center.
“Heroin continues to be a problem and will be a problem for sometime,” he said. “I believe the pastor wants to help the forgotten victims, the kids of parents on drugs. Faith-based programs have aided victims in the past and hopefully will continue to assist in ongoing issue.”
Part of an advisory board met in the broad entryway at the church building on Friday. Donna Carter, the pastor’s wife, retired social worker Barb Stamper and parent/volunteer Julie Rickert brainstormed some ideas on creating a mission and vision statement, as well as planning the open house next month.
Rickert said she hopes the building can be a safe, positive place where “people can come and feel loved.”
“I think we’re kind of lacking things that kids can do after school. (We need) a more positive environment,” she said.
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