I’m Moving to Crosstown Today
I have given more tours of Crosstown than I can count. It started over four years ago. A group of artists led by Todd Richardson and Chris Miner had a vision to create an artist colony in the abandoned Sears distribution center in Memphis known as Crosstown. They wanted Church Health to open a small clinic to help care for the struggling artists’ health needs when the time came. I pondered their request. Then I asked, “What if we move in there with you? All of us. Everything.”
And so the odyssey began. I joined them on an impossible journey.
There were many turning points in Church Health’s Crosstown journey, but one was when I convinced three of our board members to provide private planes to fly to Minneapolis to see the Sears building that had recently been rehabbed there. It was in an area of town once known as “Murderopolis.” The day the building opened, they had a murder in their parking lot. But by the time we got there, it was fully alive. The mayor and CEOs of major companies who made the trip began to believe it was possible to transform our own Sears Crosstown building into something that would serve Memphis in a meaningful way.
To be honest, I had my own doubts before that trip. Who wouldn’t?
The building was abandoned in 1992. Literally every single one of over 3,000 windows had been broken out. It was a huge, ugly building and that was all it was. My friend Henry Turley had proposed that it be torn down. It was just too complicated and expensive to repurpose. Could it be that he was right?
But after the trip to Minneapolis, I never looked back. I never doubted. I knew it would happen. And I’m not just saying that.
This week we began our move into this giant adventure of a dream.
Of course, I left town as soon as the real work began. I entertained special guests from out of town the first day of the move then got on a plane and flew to speak at a conference in LA. My wife Mary and staff members have been sending me pictures. They are all laughing and smiling. Mostly. I can tell they are anxious. No one likes change. But I also believe they sense what is possible. God’s imagination is truly bigger than we can see ourselves. In fact, the word imagination has the same root as the word magic. Magic creates a transformation that is extraordinary. Imagination allows us to make a difference in our lives so that we can live into the way God calls us into being. Both are part of what, I believe, is happening at Crosstown. At least for me, but also for Church Health.
Today, I will walk into my new office and sit down and look out the window. I will also walk through the open work area where so many of our staff will be making a nest. Setting out pictures on their desks. Getting their space just so. I will get to see people every day that for years I rarely saw because they worked in a different building. Now we are together.
Despite the anxiety, I am confident we will live into the possibilities in powerful ways. I really do believe that God is with us in this endeavor.