Rock Island Baptist Church seeks to revitalize East Chattanooga

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 10/13/15. Rev. Ron Cook speaks on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 about plans to build affordable housing on property that the Rock Island Baptist Church acquired across the street from their worship facility in East Chattanooga.

An East Chattanooga church is buying up - and building up - the neighborhood.

"It's OK to wait on the private sector to come, but I know it's really difficult to build affordable housing and make money," said pastor Ron Cook of Rock Island Baptist Church, who is overseeing the church's purchase of six nearby land parcels to put homes on. "Our idea is to help develop the community ourselves."

The church's endeavor is an effort to create both jobs and affordable housing.

And instead of making money, Rock Island Baptist Church will focus on developing people's job skills and uplifting East Chattanooga, said Cook, who celebrates 15 years as pastor of the church this month.