White Christians

GR urban farm finds new home after clash with church

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An urban farm and youth ministry has found a new home in Grand Rapids’ Creston neighborhood.

New City Neighbors’ move comes after its host church, Fourth Reformed Church, decided to end their partnership over differing beliefs on homosexuality.

NCN announced the split in July.

“There was some decisions made on behalf of the church over some theological differences (and) some disagreements about our approach,” said Ricardo Tavarez, the executive director of NCN.

Tavarez, an ordained minister and member of the LGBTQ community, joined NCN about a year ago.

Speaking with News 8 about the split in July, Tavarez said NCN’s inclusive attitude toward gay marriage and the LGBTQ community was a big part of the church’s decision to dissolve the 13-year-partnership.

“It came to the point where they asked us to move or ended the lease with us,” Tavarez said.

Since then, new hope has blossomed.

Just as NCN harvests the last of this year’s crops, they’ve already begun putting new roots down in the community, purchasing a property of their own just down the road.

Tavarez said it was the community’s support along with a generous donation that led them to their new digs in the Creston neighborhood.

New City Neighbors, an urban farm and youth ministry, moves to Grand Rapids’ Creston neighborhood. (Nov. 11, 2020)

“One of our supporters said, ‘Hey I saw this house in the Creston neighborhood, it looks like it has a really large backyard, go check it out,’” Tavarez said. “We followed up on that lead and we realized this was exactly what we were looking for.”

The dilapidated farm house located at 1115 Leonard Street NE sits on more than an acre of land, less than what they’re used to but enough to keep the mission going.

“Even though the move (and) the situation was not ideal, the outcome has been tremendous for us in terms of finding our own space and just seeing how much support we have,” Tavarez said.

NCN will continue farming at Fourth Reformed Church until the end of 2021 as their new place undergoes renovations.

In the meantime, Tavarez has no hard feelings towards the church. He said since their fallout this summer, Fourth Reformed Church has been very supportive of their mission, willing to accommodate NCN as they undergo the moving process.

Tavarez added that he talks to the church’s pastor regularly, saying they have “a growing relationship.”

Opportunities to get involved with New City Neighbors can be found online.

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