A nonprofit group associated with St. James Holiness Church of God in Christ - recently renamed The Armory - has received a $35,000 grant from the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority to develop solar panels on church grounds.
The solar project is part of a broader vision of The Armory's pastor, the Rev. Will James, Jr., to teach Christians to be good stewards of the environment while also providing job training and employment and cutting electricity costs.
The grant was awarded to the City of Compassion CDC, a nonprofit agency founded in 2002 by Mr. James. It has its own board of directors and operates independently but in cooperation with the church.
"We looked at possibilities for our land and decided we could do a solar project," Mr. James said of the 16 open acres on the church's Nebraska Avenue site.
He hopes to get the project going by spring.
The church property also contains natural wetlands and Mr. James wants to build a boardwalk and offer public tours to educate people about the need to preserve such fragile areas.
"The Bible wants us to be stewards of God's green Earth, and hopefully this project may be a template that can be replicated in other places," he said.
Mr. James seeks to combine business savvy and missions-mindedness so the church will have enough resources to spread the Gospel.
"A lot of pastors have had to settle for half a vision or a quarter of a vision because of lack of funding," he said. "The mission drives some of these economic engines to allow us to do what God has called us to do."
Mr. James, 46, received degrees from Oral Roberts University and Fuller Theological Seminary, and a doctorate in social ethics from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
He worked with Bishop T.D. Jakes at the Potter's House, a Dallas megachurch, and was a professor at Oral Roberts U before returning to Toledo in 2000 to pastor St. James "The Armory," after the passing of his father and church founder, Bishop William James.