Back in 1892, construction began on New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Forty years later, workers were still laboring on the huge Gothic structure. Steel was needed for World War II, so construction was halted. But church services continued.
After the war, the neighborhood began changing. The once stately homes around the huge church fell into disrepair. Poverty surrounded the unfinished church.
Church members decided they’d rather help the poor, than finish the construction. To them, the unfinished church represented the unfinished work of Jesus in the world.
So, the church became a lifeline of food, clothing, and shelter for New York City’s poorest.
But then something grand happened. Supplying basic needs is good, but providing hope is even better. So, the church’s masonry experts trained a new generation of youthful workers from the surrounding streets. A high school dropout eventually became the stone-yard manager.
One of the largest Gothic churches in the world was finished with the labor of those who were once poor, but became skilled tradesmen. When hope is built, lives are rebuilt too.