This past year at South Street Ministries we have been reflecting a lot on our story. This year marked the 20th year of ministry for Duane and Lisa Crabbs, fulfilling their commitment to the community they made at the very beginning.
“20 years” has been the elusive goal, always present as Duane and Lisa would speak about the work of the ministry. “We made a 20-year-commitment.” And here we are–20 years later.
I’m writing to you all, and my name is not Duane, nor is it Lisa. My name is Amber Cullen, and I’m our Communications Director at South Street Ministries. My job is to pay close attention to our story, listening to the reverberations of the Spirit in the lifeblood of the ministry, bearing witness to where God is made manifest.
South Street Ministries is a movement and legacy that began with the Crabbs as they stepped in obedience into Summit Lake to better love God and their neighbors, and continues through us who now consider ourselves a part of the ministry and organization.
I am a testimony of the impact of the faithfulness and consistency of Lisa and Duane Crabbs. My story intersected with theirs during a pivotal season in my life five years ago where in deep recognition of the world’s pain, I sought to understand the role of the Church in it. I knew I loved Jesus, but didn’t see how to embody that love to my neighbor with my hands and feet. At South Street I saw a different way, which challenged me to question how I stewarded my time, gifts, and capacity.
This is the heartbeat of many of us who have crossed paths with South Street Ministries–stories of influence, of challenge, of connection, of discipleship, of hope.
We are unlikely partners taking shared risks to renew our communities for Christ’s sake.
Last May and June, we opened the doors of The Front Porch for a 20/20 Come and See event, focused specifically on honoring Duane and Lisa, but also inviting our supporters and unlikely partners to see the present ministry. Our AfterSchool program grew from being run by Lisa Crabbs and Mike Marshall, to being led by Bob Irwin, who grew up in Summit Lake. The Front Porch was a Croatian-American club that was handed over to Duane Crabbs, and under the leadership of Joe Tucker, Thomas Jones, Eric Harmon, and Lisa Crabbs, rose to be developed into the Café, clinic, and grassroots leadership development space that it is today. Miller Ave UCC, a church in the Summit Lake community, partnered with our programs to host AfterSchool and beyond, as well as eventually merging with South Street Fellowship to create The Front Porch Fellowship, pastored by Duane Crabbs and Bryson Davis. The Long Street House, right by Miller Ave UCC, now houses a community of women leaders in ministry, (many of whom are on staff), who are living intentionally in Summit Lake running knitting circles, Girls Studio, organizing health cohorts, and teaching music lessons. It is clear that it is no longer just Lisa and Duane, but so many of us seeking to learn, live, and love Jesus and neighbor.
This 20th year at South Street Ministries also marked the cancer journey and passing of Thomas Jones, who founded and grew The Front Porch Café. In addition to Thomas passing, Eric Harmon, the Front Porch building project manager, received a job offer as a Prison Chaplain, stepping towards his long-time calling. It also marked the unexpected passing of Mike Marshall, a life-long friend, supporter, and partner in the ministry.
I don’t know if when Duane and Lisa moved into Summit Lake that they expected 20 years later to look like this–the loss and transition of three integral unlikely partners in ministry (in addition to the many other unexpected hardships of this past year).
How does one celebrate a 20th year full of loss in juxtaposition with celebrating 20 years of ministry?
We remember where we came from, and where we are going.
20 years later, it’s not just Lisa and Duane, but so many more of us opening our hands and saying, “Not our will, but Your will, Lord.” We surrender and submit the work of our hands and the intentions of our hearts to be edified by the clarity of the Spirit. God was with us long before this year of loss and celebration, God was with us during this year of loss and celebration, and God will be with us as we continue in small steps of obedience through loss and celebration. We are not about building an organizational empire in Summit Lake and South Akron. We are about being faithful to love, being faithful to show up, being faithful to support, and being faithful to bear witness to the movement of the Spirit.
The 20-year-commitment of Duane and Lisa is now held in the hands of many through the lifeblood of South Street Ministries.
These are our stories.
Come and See.
20/20 Come and See Storytelling Series:
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