Abundant Life demonstrates God’s love through holistic community development in the Prospect neighborhood.
To reflect the glory of God to the Prospect community by reflecting the values of God’s Kingdom.
The Prospect neighborhood (including Greenstone on 5th Apartments, Prospect Avenue, Orangedale Avenue, Bailey Road, Rock Creek Road, University Manor, and 7 1/2 Street) is a diverse neighborhood of nearly 400 families, primarily African-American but with increasing numbers of Latinos and African and Asian refugees. Community assets include a Resident’s Council, the Prospect Prayer Group (weekly prayer meetings and monthly worship services), Greenstone on 5th Apartments (HUD funded) and its Neighborhood Network Center, Forest Hills Park, Buford Middle School, Cherry Avenue Boys & Girls Club, Smith Aquatic and Fitness Center, proximity to the University of Virginia and its hospital, and the Abundant Life Family Center. The Prospect community is one of five federally-defined low income neighborhoods in the city of Charlottesville. Nearly half of the adult residents have not completed high school; unemployment and underemployment are common. About 70% percent of the residents are among the “working poor;” 30% are fully reliant on public assistance. Sometimes drug trafficking is observable in the community with violence occasionally erupting; at other times, seasons of relative calm prevail.
Abundant Life developed initially as a partnership between Trinity Presbyterian Church and leaders in the former Blue Ridge Commons (now Greenstone on Fifth) community. The Community Leadership Team (CLT), composed of six neighborhood residents and eight Trinity members, met throughout 1995 to assess the needs and assets of the Prospect community and formulate plans for an on-site Christian community center. Former Residents Association President Lula Rogers (pictured at left in 1996) and Trinity member Amy Sherman co-chaired the CLT. The design of the ministry was influenced by research on church-based urban ministries that Sherman was completing at the time (which is summarized in her book, Restorers of Hope). Drawing on the lessons learned from effective ministries around the nation, and on comments solicited by neighborhood residents when the Community Leadership Team completed a house-to-house survey in Blue Ridge Commons, the Abundant Life Family Center opened its doors June 14, 1996.
After Ms. Roger’s passing, the Abundant Life Family Center’s meeting space was named the Lula Rogers Room in her honor.
Dr. Amy L. Sherman is our founder and former Executive Director. Dr. Sherman is currently a Senior Fellow at the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research and Director of the Center on Faith in Communities at the Foundation for American Renewal. She also serves as the Editorial Director for FASTEN (the Faith and Service Technical Education Network), and Urban Ministries Advisor at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Charlottesville, Virginia. She is the author of four books, most recently Reinvigorating Faith in Communities (Hudson Institute, 2002). Her 70+ articles and essays have appeared in such diverse publications as Policy Review, Christianity Today, Philanthropy, and The Washington Times. Her two most recent booklets for church leaders areEstablishing a Church-based, Welfare-to-Work Mentoring Ministry: A Practical “How-to” Guide and Sharing God’s Heart for the Poor: Meditations for Worship, Prayer, and Service. She is also the author of the first major national study of the “Charitable Choice” provisions of the 1996 welfare reform law (the report, The Growing Impact of Charitable Choice, is available from the Center for Public Justice in Annapolis, MD.) In 1996, Dr. Sherman was named by Christianity Today as one of the “Top 50 Evangelical Leaders Under Forty.”
Abundant Life believes in whole-family, holistic ministry, with incentive-based programming. Parents of children enrolled in tutoring, for example, complete two hours of volunteer service. Children learn about the predictable consequences of their behavior by earning “blue bucks” which are redeemed at our monthly “store” and for special field trips.
- Our programming spans grades 1 through 12; our desire is to develop long-term, lasting friendships with parents and children in order to share the love of Christ and encourage the positive development of our community.
- Prayer undergirds our activities and we teach Biblical principles in many of our adult and youth programs. It is our aim to depend upon God, to seek to glorify Him in all we do, and to live out the Gospel in our actions as well as our words so that more people will be drawn to Christ.
Five goals guide our program development:
- Home-grown Leadership Development
- Parental Involvement
- A Community of Faith
- Adult & Family Economic Development
- Ministry Sustainability