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The purpose of this project is form a team from the Body of Christ to open a grocery store as a restorative act in a “food desert” where the two socioeconomically distinct communities of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and University of Tennessee intersect in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (MLK) is the current divider between the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) neighborhood and the lower-income, historical African-American MLK neighborhood. The House, a university ministry situated in this intersection, serves as a catalyst for this project. Pastoral partnerships with local churches and with the university, combined with evaluation of the physical need of the MLK community, were the genesis for this initiative. Students from The House, area church members, and community leaders presently work together to steer the project.

This project will be discussed in three parts. Part One describes the two communities. Part Two offers a theological reflection and includes a scriptural exploration of incarnation and restoration, a literature review, and an examination of current church-planting and missional models.

Part Three discusses a strategy and timeline for implementing a pilot project. Initial stages of the project include vision-casting among neighborhood residents, local community foundations, churches, and university administrators. Pertinent steps involve discussing the community’s physical needs and the Church’s entrepreneurial role in meeting those needs. The pilot project entails crafting a business model and plan through a local entrepreneurial group. An assessment of the project strategy and goals is given. This paper concludes with suggesting steps forward to bring the store to fruition.

Content Reader: Scot Sherman, ThM, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Sherman, Scot

Document Type





University Ministries of Chattanooga; First Christian Church (Chattanooga, Tenn.); Business; Social gospel; Church work with African Americans


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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