market helps Augsburg Lutheran rise from the ashes
Rebuilding work is continuing at Augsburg Lutheran Church, but the focus no longer is on bricks and mortar.
The church, which has battled back after a devastating fire, is continuing its effort to re-establish itself as a community resource center in the Five Points District of West Toledo.
A weekly Farmers' Market, featuring fresh produce, coffee, and baked goods, is anchoring summer activities offered by the church at 1342 West Sylvania Ave.
Held in the church's parking lot from 3 to 7 p.m. each Tuesday through Oct. 30, the market is envisioned as an informal gathering place for the residents of West Toledo. And it will provide the neighborhood with access to local farm products and other items.
Fire caused an estimated $2 million in damage to the church in 2005. For several months, services and programs were held at other locations, and church offices were housed in a trailer in the parking lot.
After extensive remodeling work, the church conducted a rededication service in December, and members now have full access to the building again.
Activities are being offered this summer as part of the church's mission to rebuild the sense of community within the surrounding neighborhoods.
The church is making "an effort to reconnect with the neighborhood," and the activities planned this summer and into fall are one way for the church to say "we're available and we're here to help out the community," said Carol Wagner, church secretary.
The Farmers' Market, a new idea for the church, provides a gathering spot where people can meet one another and spend time talking.
Held for the first time last week, the Farmers' Market has brought in a steady crowd, said Mrs. Wagner, who added that so far, it's been a "pretty good success."
Fresh strawberries were expected to be among the offerings at the market this week.
Three vendors have signed up to participate the entire season, and another vendor will be added to the lineup in July.
The church started the Farmers' Market "because we thought there was a need in our neighborhood for fresh produce where people can walk instead of driving their car," said Outreach Director Judy Encheff.
The neighborhood is the home of many senior citizens, including some who lack transportation, she noted.
The church "thought it would be good for the neighborhood," she said, adding that turnout at the Farmers' Market has been wonderful.
Some organizations will be coming to the market to offer free food samples or free information on services that they provide.
Car shows and other special events are planned as well.
Interested vendors for the Farmers' Market can contact the church about stall rental on either a weekly or seasonal basis.
This marks the second year that Augsburg Lutheran has teamed with Feed Lucas County Children, Inc., to provide free nutritious lunches for neighborhood children ages 1 to 18.
Starting this week, lunch will be served each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Last year the church served approximately 350 meals.
A successful program last year is returning this summer as well. The Smile Express Dental Van will be in Augsburg's parking lot from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 24.
A dentist and his team will conduct dental exams for children; fill cavities, and extract teeth that cannot be saved.
For those without insurance, there will be a $20 charge for each service.
More information is available through the church office.