Our Founders

...the Lord’s different kind of ministry outreach

Back in November of 1992, a group of four couples and one single secretary retiree, all from Curtis Road Church of God, started prayer meetings in their homes where they sought the Lord concerning a different kind of ministry outreach in Champaign, one that could be a beacon of light and hope shining in the darkness. Within five months and with the support of this small group, Ervin and Marilyn Williams oversaw the opening of Restoration Urban Ministries. Its first location was in the old Sullivan Building in downtown Champaign.

Our founders
Ervin and Marilyn Williams

On the very first day, an elderly homeless lady walked in the door and discovered the ministry could help meet her needs. The ministry began preparing food bags to give away to those in need; by the end of the first week, over 125 bags of groceries had been handed out. The next week, the numbers of grocery bags given away increased. Almost immediately, clothing donations began to arrive from around the area. This was the birth of the “clothing bin”, which enabled the group to distribute clothing to those most vulnerable in our community. Donations of food and clothing were coming in from across the community and soon, storage space was at a premium.

A short time after its founding, the supporting group agreed to start praying for and sharing scripture with those who would come in to the Ministry. This outreach proved fruitful; within two weeks, a number of new believers were welcomed into the Kingdom of God. Upon realizing we had more than two dozen new Jesus-followers, a weekly evening Bible study was started. As numbers for this evening outreach increased, it became apparent that they would soon outgrow our meeting space. In addition, as these new Christians shared their ongoing prayer needs, it was evident that people with issues like family instability, legal issues, homelessness, parenting challenges or drug addiction needed more intervention than we could offer through our weekly outreach.

An overnight shelter was opened, which eventually grew into a transitional living program. Initially, a five-bedroom house was rented to house a self-sufficiency training program. A second house was added so that program graduates could continue to move toward self-sufficiency. In time, a small five-apartment unit was rented to provide independent living for singles. Finally, a 30-unit motel, on Highway 45 north of Urbana, was rented to continue this self-sufficiency training program.

By 1997, Restoration Urban Ministries expanded its services by purchasing a 72-unit motel near the corner of Mattis and Bradley Avenues in Champaign. At the same time, Restoration moved its location into a theatre on Main Street in downtown Champaign. This move was needed to accommodate the Church services and the youth programs which served over 300 children in its super “Saturday Program”, later known as the “King’s Club”.

Subsequently, Restoration rented a building on North Mattis Avenue, which provided room for a new sanctuary, food pantry, and classrooms for program participants. In 1999, Restoration purchased a 14-house neighborhood which allowed more people in the program to rent and prepare their healthy re-entry back into our community.

Finally, Restoration purchased its current office location where we now have classrooms, kitchen, offices, nursery, food pantry, clothing and a home goods distribution space, drug addiction management classes, case management services in addition to a training facility for its business “C.E.R.E.” (Champaign Economic Restoration Endeavors, Inc.) and Restoration Church. Presently, Restoration has grown from a volunteer staff of 3 to a current staff of 22 people. They lovingly care for and implement the many services that Restoration provides to our Champaign County neighbors to support them in their difficult times of need! Since our inception, Restoration has been able to house, feed, clothe and redeem thousands of our fellow neighbors; we could not have accomplished this without all of our faithful, loving and caring supporters! Please help us in any way you can so we can continue this much needed work that we have given our lives to: to provide for the least, the lost, and the hurting.

God bless you, Ervin and Marilyn Williams!