KIPP Indy Public Schools’ Community Partner Highlight: Pastor Wallace & Pastor Middleton of New Spiritual Life Christian Church

Community Partner Highlight: Pastor Wallace & Pastor Middleton of New Spiritual Life Christian Church

In this interview, Pastor Wallace and Pastor Middleton share their personal connections to the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood, the importance of collaboration between community mainstays, and how they think community organizations can better partner together. This father-daughter duo serves as co-pastors of New Spiritual Life Christian Church.

As told to Mary-Chapin Snow

Tell us about yourself. What is your connection to the Martindale-Brightwood community?

Pastor Wallace: My name is Anthony D. Wallace and I’m a Pastor at New Spiritual Life Christian Church. We were actually raised in this neighborhood. My wife and I started working with and advocating for children in the neighborhood early in our adult years and it turned into a ministry. We feel that God called us back to this neighborhood because the need is greater than it was when we left and he put it upon our hearts to come back and make as much of a difference as we can.

Pastor Middleton: My name is Pastor Lena Middleton. I grew up in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood and my grandparents also live here. At the start of my career, I actually worked at IPS School 110 which is now KIPP Indy. This neighborhood definitely holds a large space in our hearts. When we started our own ministry, we had the opportunity to move up north but we made a very conscious decision to minister in this community. We wanted to do God’s work and be of service for people who need it. We’ve chosen to stick and stay in the community and be a part of the solution.

Why do you believe strong partnerships between community organizations and schools are important?

Pastor Middleton: I visualize it as a web of support. If we all work together, our web becomes tangled and we can ensure we hold everyone up. No one entity can hold everyone up and provide a solution. That’s what I love about where we are located- we are sandwiched between KIPP Indy and Deaney Equipment. With the three of us together, we can actually hold something up.

Pastor Wallace: Churches, schools, and corporations are all mainstays of any community. They all benefit from the well-being of the community and therefore should all have the obligation to give back to the sustenance of that community, which we are calling our brothers and sisters, employees, or leaders.

How have you seen organizations in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood working together during the COVID-19 crisis?

Pastor Middleton: A church around the corner had to close their buildings during the crisis and therefore they couldn’t operate their usual food pantry. We partner together all the time so it only made sense that we would move the food pantry to our church. So that people can still walk or ride to get whatever they need within our neighborhood. KIPP Indy has also leant their parking lot to us for churches services. It’s simple for those of us who are open-minded- why not work together?

What are specific opportunities where KIPP Indy and other community organizations in Martindale-Brightwood can better partner together?

Pastor Wallace: Corporations are sustenance resources, but our parents are also a resource within the community. In the neighborhood, we have a disproportionate number of children that don’t have their biological father in their home. I think schools have the opportunity through different parenting groups to provide opportunities for both parents to stay involved in their child’s life.

Pastor Middleton: I think we need greater communication. We all need to know what each other’s individual needs are. If we understood that, we can share information that would help us better impact the common community we are serving.

We would also benefit from figuring out what specific expertise lies within each organization. For example, Resurrection Community Church has an amazing homeless ministry and my dad started an incredible program for fathers through Security Dads at Arlington High School. If we had this information collected somewhere, we could look within our neighborhood for help instead of going out. We have a great deal of talent right here.