Creating Jobs, Creating Hope

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More than 137 years ago, former slaves founded Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church. Over the many years, the church secured its home in Norcross, and as little as 12 years ago, the church only held services twice per month. With the arrival of Dr. William L. Sheals as senior pastor in 1980, the church began to grow in numbers, physical size and outreach opportunities.

In 1999, the City of Hope Community Development Corporation was incorporated to promote education, economic and social development, as well as community empowerment, for the community. This one-of-a-kind corporation has developed the Chrisitanomics Mall and Training Center and the City of Hope Child Development Center.

The Christianomics Mall, located at 350 West Peachtree Street in Norcross, serves as a #business incubator# housing more than 10 service-related businesses, with the opportunity for nearly a dozen kiosk-operated businesses.

Within the mall, visitors will find a full-service barbershop and beauty salon as well as a nail salon. A credit union offers personal and business banking services, and the Hopewell Youth Bank offers services for those 18 and under. Jewelry, gift baskets, wreaths and a Christian bookstore can also be found in the mall. And perhaps one of the favorite establishments in the mall is Fitzgerald#s Food for Your Soul # a full-service restaurant featuring healthy soul-food recipes.

The City of Hope#s Child Development Center is a licensed facility for 155 children. Serving children 6 weeks to 4 years old, the center offers 12-month programs for the community#s smallest citizens.

The City of Hope has had a great economic impact on the Norcross area. The corporation provides a tax base for 11 separate companies and employs more than 70 individuals. The land that houses the City of Hope was once a eye-sore full of junk-yard cars, and it is now well-manicured with renovated buildings improving the aesthetics of the area.

Future plans for the City of Hope include a career center offering technical and computer training, job readiness training for interviews and resume building and English and Spanish Classes. Plans are also underway for a health and wellness clinic, independent living facilities for seniors and a performing arts center.

Along with the church#s regular services and multiple outreach programs, Hopewell offers the community the Give Us Hope Youth Center, which offers tutoring, arts and crafts, recreation facilities and before- and after-school programs. Hopewell Christian Academy offers pre-K through 9th grade programs and is accredited by the Georgia Accrediting Commission, Inc. The Senior Citizens Center offers arts and crafts, sewing and quilting, pottery, games, exercise and luncheons. And the Congregational Health Nurse program is a partnership with Gwinnett Hospital System offering health screenings, awareness classes, CPR training and more.

Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church has grown from a relatively small congregation with only two services per month to a nearly 10,000-member, bustling entity with its own school, businesses and community-service programs. The success of Hopewell is a reflection of its forward-thinking mission and its openness to embracing community, church and economics.

To learn more about Hopewell Baptist Church and the City of Hope, call 770-448-5475.

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