To me, the cluster of metal warehouses at 1109 Versailles Road looks like a huddled mass of aluminum.
To the Rev. Kathy Ogletree Goodwin, it is a campus on which people of various cultures and stations in life can soon find disciples doing God's work.
Goodwin, the newly appointed pastor and chief executive officer of the Nathaniel Mission United Methodist Church, believes the mission's new location is a big plus for the program's future.
"I want to form a collaboration with people right here on this campus," she said. "I want to connect with the nationalities and ethnicities that are here. I want to connect congregations that way."
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The mission's building is located behind Hope Springs Community Church, a congregation in the Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church and co-founded by the Rev. David Calhoun in 2000. Nathaniel Mission is part of that conference.
Hope Springs also serves as the home of a large Hispanic congregation that meets Sunday evenings. And, just a short walk away, sits Antioch Baptist Church in Speigle Heights, a predominantly black community.
That grouping of diverse cultures is an opportunity for the Nathaniel Mission to "impose some new kinds of strategies," said Goodwin, adding that is still in keeping with the vision the founders put in place in the 1930s.
Back then, Nathaniel Mission began serving the marginalized residents of Davis Bottom, a financially struggling community often forgotten by government officials and programs. Residents were black, Irish immigrants and Eastern Kentucky transplants, all living together with poverty as a bonding agent.
The mission moved from its DeRoode Street location in the spring, forced out by the Newtown Pike Extension road construction project.
Soon after the Rev. David MacFarland orchestrated the move, he retired and Goodwin was appointed as his replacement.
Some programming has changed since the move, but the food market, the clothing bank, and diabetes education and support classes remain. Also, a hot breakfast is still served after 8 a.m. worship service every Sunday.
The transition from Coke Memorial United Methodist Church in Louisville, where Goodwin served for 17 years, to Nathaniel Mission has been made easier because of the number of committed volunteers at the mission, she said.
"It would have been harder for me had I not had that commitment," Goodwin said. "They are here every Sunday at 6:30 a.m. fixing breakfast. It makes a difference."
Born in Barnesville, Ga., the fourth of nine children, Goodwin had planned to be a lawyer. At age 12, she imitated preachers she had seen at a revival.
But Goodwin wasn't about to be a minister.
"I did not see people who looked like me preaching," she said. "That left my mind."
Later at Atlanta University, she met her husband, Alvin Goodwin, who was attending seminary, and settled on the idea of being "the cute first lady" of a church.
Again, others suggested she should go into the ministry, but she told them, "I'm going to law school. I'm going to make some money."
Obviously, God had other plans. One opportunity after another came about, all leading to the ministry.
Now, "I'm not keeping people from going to jail, but I'm keeping people from going to hell. I'm using a greater law book, God's law."
Goodwin was the first black female ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Kentucky Conference and is one of only three, she said. She started at Nathaniel Mission June 29.
And while she doesn't earn a lawyer's salary, God has never failed to meet every one of her needs, Goodwin said. She and her husband, who pastors Garrs Lane United Methodist Church in Shively, have three grown children and have been married for 32 years.
Goodwin said she has always wanted to start a feeding program and after-school program, but the time was never right. Now it is.
"This is perfect timing," she said. "I don't know how long I'm going to be here, but I am here now and I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. Right now, this is the place God has me working with God's people."
Also, Goodwin would like to start a program similar to The Cookery, a Nashville restaurant that serves as a culinary school that trains homeless individuals to work in the food industry.
Calhoun, co-founder of Hope Springs, is also an assistant professor of religion at Lindsey Wilson College with a focus on mission work. Goodwin believes the campus could become a training site for missionaries in the Kentucky conference.
"We could collaborate based on what the needs of the people are," she said. "We could erase those lines between churches and create something that everyone will be talking about."
Goodwin said she is not changing the vision of the mission. She just wants to put that vision into action. She wants to do more than feed people a fish, or even teach them to fish. She said she wants people to understand they need to own the pond where the fish were caught.
"This is a new place, but the same old mission," Goodwin said. "We are serving the people of God."
Nathaniel Mission plans to host a dedication service soon. The kitchen has passed health inspections and items are being moved to the newly finished permanent site at 1109 Versailles Road, Suite 400. The mission welcomes volunteers and donations. If anyone has a van or bus they want to donate, they would love that, too.
"We are blessed to be a blessing," Goodwin said. "That is my mantra."