Have you heard us talking about the Swamp Rabbit property and wondered what that's all about? We've interviewed Pastor Chris Armfield to give you some details and the opportunity to hear his heart for the property and the neighborhood to which it belongs.
Interview with Pastor Chris Armfield
TIFFANY: How long has CITYLIGHTS had the Swamp Rabbit property?
CHRIS: We've owned this property since 2012, the same year we launched. The Swamp Rabbit property came with 60,000+ sq ft of buildings sitting on 7+ acres of land. We've nearly finished removing 20,000 sq ft of unusable buildings, due to their poor condition and design. The remaining 40,000 sq ft belong to the main structure, which remains sound even though it was built in the 1930’s. We've purchased 3 more acres, so we're now working with 10 acres of land.
TIFFANY: What can you share about the needs of the community where it is located?
CHRIS: Our location is an exciting crossroads, or bridge if you will, of socioeconomic divides. Originally, we were drawn to this location due to the uniqueness of having almost 1,000 linear feet of the Swamp Rabbit Trail running through our property. This reality has kept us coming back to this project over several good options, some of which were in downtown Greenville right off of Main street. Currently the Swamp Rabbit Trail is number three in the country for “Best Urban Trail” by USA Today 10 Best. Last year over 500,000 people enjoyed the trail, which means 500,000 people walked on our property. This excites us greatly!
The location also is a “crossroads/bridge” of ethnicity and polarizing socioeconomic divides. The three mile radius around us has some of the lowest income presence, yet it also has some of the highest income presence of the Upstate. We hope to be a place of hope, a meeting place for all kinds of people.
TIFFANY: What vision has God given you for how we should use it to advance His mission in Greenville?
CHRIS: Our ideas are many and in many ways unlimited. Our desire is to become a place of connection, safety and understanding. When I have shared some of the vision for the property with people from the city I often hear a response like, “Oh, are you building a type of community center?” Though we didn’t necessarily set out to create a traditional community center, our ideas lend themselves to being just that.
We see this property as an equipping and sending hub for the gospel both locally and globally. Our vision of equipping disciples who make disciples can truly be unleashed with plenty of space for all kinds of gathering.
We hope the property will someday be a destination for trail users to park freely and choose to relax on sitting areas, run or cycle north towards Furman University for beautiful nature gazing or grab a bite to eat at Tandem in Travelers Rest for the best crepes around. Or, they could head just a few hundred feet south to the Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery (which is the CL staff's favorite spot for organic goodness of all kinds).
TIFFANY: How can we as the CITYLIGHTS church family support this project in prayer?
CHRIS: With so many possibilities to care for the Church and the city, we need wisdom to stay focused on our calling of equipping and sending while not forsaking the expression of God’s kingdom here on earth as the place where heaven meets earth.
-- Posted by Tiffany Deluccia, CITYLIGHTS Creative volunteer