from Tipton Life magazine, by Barney Quick

“An oasis of hope.” That’s how Faith Ministries founder Jarvis Cooper describes the meditation garden that was installed this summer and fall on church grounds. The garden, circular in design and featuring a fountain and carefully planned landscaping, is intended to be used by anyone and everyone in Columbus who needs healing and restoration.

It’s envisioned as the first phase of an ongoing project that will eventually include walking trails throughout the 15 acres on which the church is situated. The property is on west State Road 46, not too far north of Tipton Lakes.

Cooper, a Northlake Shores resident, had a career as an organizational leadership specialist, at Cummins and then with his own consultant firm. He describes his ministry activities as a leap of faith, likening it to the parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites escaping Pharaoh’s oppression.

“Leap of faith” is also the term he uses to describe the meditation-garden project. In fact, he includes construction of the present church building in that characterization.

“Money came from unexpected sources,” he saids. “Our bank believed in us, and we’ve never missed a payment, and we started the garden before we had all the needed resources in place.”

When the congregation moved to the site in 2005 from an east side location, it met in a fellowship hall. The present building was completed in 2009.

Within a few years, Cooper’s wife fell ill and subsequently passed on. Their son, Jamal, graduated from East High School and went off to college. Through it all, Cooper nurtured his dream of a meditation garden. When COVID came along and presented financial challenges to Faith Ministries, Cooper bought their land, which he now rents to the church.

Two major players in bringing Cooper’s vision to reality were Art Hopkins, a landscape architect, and Sam Vasquez, who handles contracting work for Tipton Lakes.

“Art could draw it, but he couldn’t see everything Sam could see,” said Cooper. “I just kind of stayed out of the way.”

Vasquez lives in Brown County, but he is known to Tipton Lakes residents as burly, white-haired man with a long, flowing beard, a hearty laugh and possessing a storehouse of Tipton Lakes lore.

Jamal now lives in Boston, where he works on new ventures for Northeastern University, but he comes home somewhat frequently and consults on the garden project with his father by phone.

“There isn’t a resource like this on the west side of Columbus,” he said.

Jarvis Cooper and the church have been reaching out to various community groups to discuss ways the garden can be utilized. He said Columbus Regional Health has been open to the idea that it could be a place where ‘people can come recuperate another way.”

He’s also been in contact with addiction-recovery resources, such as the ASAP Hub and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, although he stressed that the garden is “not just for those in recovery, but anyone regardless of what their angst is.”

The Indian community has already been holding meditation classes there.

As a next step, Cooper envisions a second fountain and a babbling brook.

He also mentioned the possibility of a memorial wall, for which people could purchase plaques, with the proceeds going to the site’s upkeep.

A city bus line currently stops at nearby locations. Cooper said he imagines a time when it might stop at the garden to let off and pick up those seeking a healing interlude.

Cooper also plans to get in touch with the Heritage Fund and schools about possible field trips.

He makes clear that the entire project is going to be a work in progress for the foreseeable future.

“This is a launching pad, not a landing strip,” he said.