A fading sign at the corner of Cleveland’s East 79th Street and Golden Avenue announces the Last Stop Bonanza Inc. as “the stop that has your everyday needs”—even though the gate is locked and the space is filled with trash.
Farther down East 79th, Pastor David Cobb Jr. presides over a block party where smiling children ride ponies, Christian rappers perform and young men play basketball near older adults in conversation at shaded picnic tables.
“This has the potential to be a safe haven for the community, for the city and for those who want to serve God,” says Cobb, the 35-year-old pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church. “God is going to do it. God is going to use us.”
So many in the inner city have given up: businesses, the middle class, many of the predominantly white churches that filled this once-thriving neighborhood. But black churches—Emmanuel and more than 30 other congregations within a ten-block radius—have stayed.