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Someone who attends an Easter service at the Church on Strayer next weekend will go home with — a free home.
The Rev. Tony Scott, pastor, said he wants the church’s new “Home for Hope” giveaway to lift the spirits of a community that has been struggling through tough economic times. “We feel like Toledo has taken such a hit in this economy. We feel the spirit of the city needs to be lifted,” he said.
The 1,250-square-foot house has yet to be built, and the site has not been determined, Mr. Scott said. The church has architectural plans, but they will be modified to suit the winners’ needs.
Much of the construction costs is expected to be donated, he said.
“We have many people in the church who are in construction, and there are many outside the church willing to help,” Mr. Scott said. “We think the vast majority of the work will be done by volunteers.”
He said he has asked the 2,500 people who attend the church to donate to the project.
People who want to apply must attend one of the Easter weekend services in Maumee or at its Fremont location to pick up an application.
Criteria for qualifying include having stable employment for at least a year, with good references; U.S. citizenship or legal residency, and agreement to work 300 to 400 hours on construction of the home. The winner also must agree not to sell the home for at least five years.
The recipient will be responsible for upkeep, but there will be no mortgage.
The timing of the giveaway is significant, he added.
“The reason we tied it to Easter is that Jesus gave his life at Easter and we figured we should give at Easter,” Mr. Scott said. “We have always been a very generous church, and we are always giving to the community. To give a house was the most logical next step.”
A seven-person panel will review applications and select a winner within 14 days. The new homeowners should get the keys to move in to their new home during the church’s “Freedom Celebration” over the Fourth of July weekend.
The Rev. Dan Rogers, president and CEO of Cherry Street Mission Ministries, said he was encouraged to see a church undertaking a project to provide housing, which he called “the most basic of all human needs.”
“The cool thing about it is that it’s a church doing it. The church should have ‘life transformation’ built into its construct. This is not just about housing; it’s about transforming lives.”
Mr. Rogers added that the giveaway must be sustainable in the long term for those who win the home.
“There are reasons why people who would apply for housing don’t have a house. It’s because they did not have the ability or they lost the ability to sustain their own housing. So it’s not just about housing, but stable housing.”
Mr. Scott said he hopes to make the giveaway an annual event. If the community rallies around the concept, he said, the church may be able to give away more than one home per year.
Mr. Scott said he will be interviewed by T.J. Holmes on CNN live by Skype at 8:20 a.m. tomorrow about the “Home for Hope” giveaway.
Mr. Scott has been pastor of the church since 1974, when it was Sylvania Church of God with about 45 members. The church moved to Alexis Road in 1983 and was renamed Cathedral of Praise, then moved into the former corporate world headquarters of Trinova Corp. and Aeroquip-Vickers Inc. in Maumee in 2005.
The Church on Strayer, 3000 Strayer Rd., Maumee, will hold Easter weekend services at 7 p.m. Friday, 4:30 and 6 p.m. April 23, and 9 and 11 a.m. April 24.
At its Fremont campus, at State Rt. 53 and County Rd. 41, Easter services will be held at 7 p.m. April 23, and 9 and 11 a.m. April 24.
Contact David Yonke at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.