Spend any time with Pastor Grace Dent and you quickly realize she is a dynamo. As pastor of Pneuma Chapel in the North Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland, Pastor Dent works tirelessly to bring new opportunities, assistance and mentoring to her community. From life skills workshops to a community garden to a food and bread pantry and missionary housing, the pastor’s work over the last several years is leaving a big footprint around E. 169th Street and Grovewood Avenue.
At the Cuyahoga Land Bank, we seek out collaborations with non-profit organizations and faith-based groups like Pneuma Chapel where there is a vision and solid plan to return foreclosed and abandoned properties back to productive uses that benefit the community. Pastor Dent has worked with the Cuyahoga Land Bank to acquire two long-neglected properties near the church. One vacant property was transformed into a community garden. The other, an abandoned two-story house adjacent to the church, is currently being renovated to house up to four local and out-of-town missionaries while they carry out their work around Greater Cleveland.
“The community garden has been wonderful,” says Dent, who also serves as Bishop of the Greater Cleveland Ohio Ministerial Alliance. “I believe it has made a positive impact in the neighborhood. Residents are coming out of their homes, meeting neighbors and truly getting involved.”
Another way Pastor Dent is bringing the community together is through the East 169th Street Block Club which she founded. “We bring together neighbors for ‘curb clean up’ days in which everyone works together to beautify the neighborhood and celebrate in fellowship at a cookout behind the church,” she says.
“I founded Pneuma Chapel because I truly believe we can help create a stronger community through education, ministry and mentoring young people. One person can only take care of one thing, but if we come together as a community, there’s no telling what we can accomplish.”
This summer, Pneuma Chapel hosted eight young people from Youth Opportunities Unlimited’s (YOU) Summer Youth Employment Program. The eager young volunteers helped tend the community garden and pitched in on renovations on the Missionary House. “Although our work is Bible-based we never push our faith,” she says. “We meet people right where they are.”
At the church’s community center, Pastor Dent also offers life-skills training classes on topics such as cooking, sewing and job interviewing. And, once a year she takes time out to speak to students at Collinwood High School about knowledge and learning. During her talks, she emphasizes the importance of time management, goal setting and healthy life choices.
“I tell these young people about the importance of time and how once it’s gone there is no way to get it back. If you want to achieve something, you have you sit down and make a list of the things you need to do to reach that goal. Then, throughout the day, do positive things to reach that goal,” she says.
Pastor Dent has other big plans for the area around the chapel. She is already working with the Cuyahoga Land Bank to acquire a third abandoned property to continue her mission. “We would like to have an area to hold community events and continue to bring the community together.”
If it sounds like Pastor Dent is dreaming big, don’t underestimate this go-getter. She has her own list, and she’s working every day to reach her goals. “My dream someday is to have E. 169th Street renamed Pneuma Chapel Community Way,” she says.