In late 2014, John (my husband) and I talked about starting a community or arts center; a place where we could offer community involvement and a gathering space, and he could have his pottery studio, wood-working studio, but not only to express his creativity, but to share it with others. As an art lover community volunteer myself, and someone who has always enjoyed crafts, creating with my hands, and appreciating the creations of others, I was in agreement that this was a worthy endeavor for us to consider.
In the early discussions of this project, we would drive around areas of Indianapolis, hoping to find just the right building that would accommodate such a space. We looked in neighborhoods that were not close to any creative opportunities, areas of town that were run down, but still had a large population of families, children, and residents that were intent on making their communities survive without a lot of support. We looked almost everywhere but Mars Hill.
As we continued our search, John and I both, being people of strong faith, continued to pray that God would show us where he wanted us. There were buildings that we came across from time-to-time, but either the location, layout, or price weren’t quite right. We kept looking, did research, but came up with no possibilities.
About six months into what we thought was just an idea, John got a call from a good friend who had found a building that he thought was just what we were looking for. Originally the idea was to find an old warehouse building that would provide the arts center and community space on the first floor as well as living or loft apartment space above. This building had the arts center and community space opportunity, but no second floor. John looked at it anyway.
When he arrived and realized where the building was, he texted me. The message said, “You know that building Allen told me about? Well if you had a good arm, you could throw a rock at it from your office.” I was floored! The neighborhood I had worked in for almost 12 years; the neighborhood that provided my employer with some of the hardest working and most loyal workers; the neighborhood that we had served and given to in community service opportunities; and the neighborhood of Indianapolis that had been forgotten the most, right in my “backyard” was where God was leading us.
A couple of weeks later, John attended the auction of the building. He had a top price in mind. And unbeknown to me, and as any strong believer knows to do, he prepared by praying and fasting to hear God’s instruction. He was listening. The other bidder left as John got to his top price; he just walked away. It was ours. To tell me the news, John texted, “Some idiot just bought that building!” My reply, “Was that idiot you?” Of course, it was!
We now owned a building! The plan was in motion.
What we didn’t expect was the red tape we would have to work through with the city. Three years of heart ache and stress, wondering if this was truly what God wanted us to do. We did not quit. We had received early answers that this was where He wanted us. We weren’t giving up. While we waited, we realized we needed to truly put be a part of the community. We sold our home in Speedway and moved 10 minutes south to Mars Hill, only 7 blocks from the arts center. Mars Hill is now home.
He had us waiting for a season for a reason. The wait gave us time to get to know our neighbors and more people in the neighborhood to find out even more ways we can serve. And the wait prepared our hearts, our finances, and our mission.
We are now only months or weeks from completing the project. We have met people who want to help. We have connected with other art community volunteers in Indianapolis who can provide resources, and we have been introduced to people who may be able to utilize our facility to serve the neighborhood. And the promise of the Mars Hill Arts Center is becoming a reality!
So why Mars Hill? Without even thinking to look here, this is where we were led, and it is where we now call home. It took only a ten-minute move south to realize it. We are hopeful that this arts center provides a creative outlet for the people in Mars Hill and for those that have the desire to experience art, music, crafts, health and wellness opportunities, and smiles and laughter! We are thankful that we were led here. It was the last place we would have looked, yet it was right where we needed to be. The grand opening will be happening very soon!