Building a ministry in Sandtown
A group of young white suburbanites came to West Baltimore's Sandtown area in 1988 to establish a Christian ministry called New Song Fellowship. One of the group's goals was to start a Habitat for Humanity housing program in the poor, predominantly black community.
Three years later, the Sandtown Habitat for Humanity has rebuilt four vacant houses with volunteer labor and privately donated funding and materials, and then sold them at cost to local families. The monthly mortgage payment for each house is about $200.
The fourth home, at 1539 N. Gilmor St., was dedicated during a ceremony last Sunday.
New Song's pastor, the Rev. Mark Gornik, says the materials and workers for the home were provided by Annapolis Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Both the Annapolis and New Song congregations are members of the Presbyterian Church in America.
New Song officials estimate that there are more than 600 vacant, boarded houses in Sandtown. Which means the Habitat group has its work cut out for it.
Award for CURE:
Clergy United for Renewal of East Baltimore was scheduled to receive the Johns Hopkins Health System's third Clarence Du Burns Award for Community Service today in ceremonies at the medical institution's Turner Auditorium.
The $1,000 award is given annually to an East Baltimore individual or group judged to have contributed greatly to the community's quality of life in the preceding year.
CURE, an ecumenical group of ministers formed in 1988, has provided services including health-screening and food and shelter for the needy and the homeless, counseling for prison inmates, literacy training for adults and tutoring for students.
In 1931, the congregation of St. Barnabas Roman Catholic Church on Biddle Street moved a few blocks west into St. Pius V Church at Schroeder Street and Edmondson Avenue, merging with that congregation.
The merger's 60th anniversary will be celebrated at a 10:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday at St. Pius. Former members and students of the St. Barnabas and St. Pius churches and schools are expected to be on hand. The public is invited.
St. Pius was established in 1878, St. Barnabas in 1907. By 1931, St. Barnabas had a large congregation in a small building, while St. Pius had a small number of worshipers in a large building. Archbishop Michael Curley hit on the logical solution of joining the two congregations at the Schroeder Street church.
St. Pius, under the guidance of Josephite priests and brothers and the Oblate Sisters of Providence, is a leading black Catholic parish in the Baltimore archdiocese.
Blessing of the Pets:
For religious pet-lovers, the place to be last Sunday was St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 6515 Loch Raven Blvd., where the annual Blessing of the Pets was held.
Started in 1984, the event occurs around the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, which is tomorrow. The Italian Roman Catholic mystic who died in 1226 preached joy in creation and the love of all living things. Many statues and paintings of St. Francis depict furry little creatures scurrying about his sandaled feet.
The blessing was given by St. Andrew's pastor, the Rev. Albert Clark, who sprinkled holy water on the animals and presented each pet owner with a blessed St. Francis medal.
"We usually get 20 to 25 pets every year, mostly dogs and cats," the pastor said. "One year, a child who was allergic to pet hair brought his stuffed dinosaur."
A press release from the news division of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. in Louisville, Ky., notes that the bulletin of a certain (unidentified) Presbyterian U.S.A. congregation recently included the following item:
"Tonight's sermon: 'What is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice."
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