The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Melvin moves mountains of hopelessness

Ohioan works to build stronger neighborhoods

A judge looked down from his bench in a Columbus, Ohio, courtroom. He'd just placed another boy in the care of Melvin Steward, a member of Hope Lutheran Church in Columbus.

"Mr. Steward, the East End boys I send to you don't show up back here again in court," the judge said.

After Steward thanked the judge, he took the 13-year-old boy to Wendy's for lunch. "Son, who do you think owns this Wendy's?" Steward asked. Looking around, the young man replied, "A white man, I guess."

Melvin Steward, an ELCA member and
Melvin Steward, an ELCA member and ordained Baptist minister, works with neighborhood children in Columbus, Ohio.

"No," Steward said. "A black man, like us." He introduced the young man to the owner.

Next he took the young man into a well-kept grocery store, asking who he thought owned it. "Some white man," was the response.

"No," Steward said. "A black man. Me." He took him around and introduced him to the workers.

In front of a thriving monument and marker business, Steward asked the same question. The youth hesitated.

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