By Melissa Lauber
Lucinda “Cindy” Kent dwells in possibility.
This fall, she starts her new position as the Baltimore-Washington and Peninsula-Delaware Conferences’ Property with Purpose Coordinator, a newly created position to assist churches in discovering new ways to use their property and create new expressions of ministry that are relevant and make a difference in their communities.
That’s a lot of “new,” Kent acknowledges. But, she believes, “the blessing of a new day is filled with new possibilities. As long as I have a new day to work with, anything is possible.”
What is not new to Kent, who also serves as pastor of Van Buren UMC near Takoma Park and as Director of Operations at National UMC in Washington, D.C., is working with real estate. Before her call to ministry, she worked for 15 years in the corporate world, managing a variety of types of properties. She has also been a member of the BWC’s Board of Trustees and the Greater Washington District’s Rev. Adrienne Terry’s Fund for Affordable Housing, helping churches to renovate parsonages into homes to rent.
“When God insisted that I leave corporate America, and that is what it felt like, I thought that was a closed chapter in my life,” she said. “But now I’ll be making use of all of that. That’s why God gives us the experiences we have, so we can be of use to other people and help someone else along the way.”
Her new position is designed to take the work of the Greater Washington District and expand it to meet the needs of churches throughout the region who are participating in Missional Action Planning as they seek to grow in vitality.
The work, Kent believes, will be layered and multi-faceted to enable each congregation to respond in a manner that best suits their distinct context. There will be paperwork and financial consultations, extensive discernment and planning, and assistance on how to best proceed in bringing ideas to fruition.
Kent, and a committee she creates, will assist congregations in finding the resources and experts that will best help them take the next steps to move forward with the vision God has given them to serve their communities.
The first challenge will be to help some congregations understand church differently. “A lot of our churches’ work involves bringing people in on Sunday, instead of thinking along the lines of what impact they can have on Monday through Saturday by being the hands and feet of Jesus,” Kent said. “We have to get ourselves out of our church walls. We have to be the church outside.
She points to Van Buren’s work as they explore building a small accessible modular house for community living on their property. The rent, she said, could serve as an income stream for other ministries.
But creating and offering affordable housing is not the only option for church property. She envisions community gardens, homework centers, and a myriad of other projects that meet the needs of the surrounding community.
A brief survey of how some churches are using their properties includes: offering community-based commercial kitchens, computer labs for seniors, galleries and studio space for local artists, dog-walking services, business workspace and conference room rentals, farmers markets, and more.
“This is not only something we could all do,” Kent said. “It’s something we should all do.”
“We already have everything we need to bring people from discernment into action and completion,” she said. “We now need to take a look and see what God wants us to do in this season. We have to have the courage to just go forth.”
Kent is beginning her work by making herself available to those who want to consult with her. “We’re building something new, we’re putting flesh onto bones. We’ll see how we can make an impact,” she said. “There’s some revelation happening here. It’s a new day. Our tomorrow can be anything.”
Contact Lucinda Kent at .