Rev. Dr. Dustin White: Creating a Community of Compassion
Canton, Ohio has a history of Jim Crow zoning and red-lining. But there is another story in Canton. It is also home to the multiracial congregation, Radial Church and their Pastor, Rev. Dr. Dustin White.
Red-lining refers to a discriminatory pattern of disinvestment and obstructive lending practices that blocks home ownership of African-Americans and people of color.
White, an upbeat and charismatic pastor, believes in opening doors rather than locking them, is laser focused on growing a Christ-centered community of hundreds of people infused with hope, faith, and love. He aims to erase the blemishes of blight and segregation in the city, by sparking a God-sized movement of the Holy Spirit across our city, our state, our world.
White has been working closely with the neighbors to see what the needs of the community are. The church put up dream boards asking the neighborhood to write down their needs, hopes and dreams for Canton. The same suggestion kept coming up: access to spaces. The community needed safe places to exist: affordable clean housing, parks, even coffee shops.
That is when Radial came up with the idea to buy houses, fix them up and sell them to existing neighbors at no interest rate. Two and half years ago their dream came true when they received a donation, which helped the community start a nonprofit, Flourish 44703.
“Basically we just started buying back the houses from the slumlords, gutting them, remodeling from the ground up and then selling them with no monthly interest rate to our neighbors,” White said. The organization has completed remodeling a handful of houses, a community space, and bought land to eventually become a park, an orchard and a coffee shop.
As White puts it: “It’s exciting to see our neighbors empowered in a community that historically has said ‘you can’t have this,’ be so innovative and resilient and do what no one else has done before.”
This is the new story of Canton: neighbors working together to overcome the ravages of red-lining and discrimination to build a just community.
For more information on Flourish 44703, click here to see how you can help.