Evangel Temple Holiness Church is located just a mile from the Bratenahl border in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, but its surroundings are a stark difference to the stately homes and more affluent residents of its bordering suburb. Evangel Temple Church’s pastor Bishop Ron Ferebee and his wife, Gloria, know all too well the poverty, crime, and abandoned and blighted homes that dot the streets surrounding their place of worship. The Church has been in its current location on East 105th Street and Elk Avenue since 1984.
“Our goal is to bring the gospel to the community and at the same time restore and bring the community together,” says Bishop Ferebee, who has been pastoring at the church since 2008. “Working together we can revive areas like Glenville that have deteriorated over time to make them more vibrant.”
A chance meeting in 2014 with Cuyahoga Land Bank President Gus Frangos at a community meeting with Councilman Kevin Conwell led to an in-depth discussion about the neighborhood and the Ferebee’s concerns about several blighted homes near the church. “Properties had been sitting vacant for several years, including one that had been destroyed by fire,” says Gloria. “We shared our concerns about the crime and other negative impacts these homes were having on the community and our hopes and dreams for the neighborhood.”
Since that meeting, the Cuyahoga Land Bank has demolished four of the most deteriorated houses adjacent to the church and its parking lot, making the area more appealing and safer for residents and churchgoers. “The staff at the Cuyahoga Land Bank have been a tremendous blessing for us. They embraced our concerns and were very proactive and communicative in their efforts to make this neighborhood safe,” says Gloria.
The Ferebees are currently developing plans to take over four of the properties for land re-use opportunities that include a community center and programs to support the needs of the neighborhood.
“The folks at the Land Bank touched our hearts,” says Bishop Ferebee. “They understand the neighborhood and have a passion for renewal and restoration.”
“We want our neighbors and our congregation to feel welcome and comfortable, and working with the Cuyahoga Land Bank, we feel we are helping to make that change – building the neighborhood up from the inside out.”