A flea market is the latest effort to save a dream, a warehouse
The Rev. Roy L. Clark has packed his big factory warehouse full of dreams, but the economic revival that would fulfill them has yet to arrive. And the bills are already coming due.
His latest plan to support the building in the 2400 block of Greenmount Ave. that houses his Church of Christ and Man United is to start a community flea market there. Vendors may sell their wares from tables in the cavernous cement-block rooms of the building for a rental of $10 a day, $50 a week or $200 a month.
Mr. Clark already has a thrift shop and rents out garage space a few storefronts within what he says is 15,000 square feet of building space. But it isn't enough. He says he is three months behind in mortgage payments on the building he bought a year ago for $400,000.
"I'm trying to make this building pay for itself," said Mr. Clark, who also is a landlord and a professor of speech. "I've used up all my money."
Mr. Clark founded his church in this building as a way of applying self-help inspiration to an area of economic privation. He envisions car mechanics, seamstresses and others eventually renting more space in the building for teaching their trades to young people in the neighborhood.
His mission, "to help us overcome this depression we're in," is more motivational than worshipful. His flock of 10 people or more -- a number he hopes to expand to 60 -- meets on Saturday afternoons for talks on economic independence.
"We can do it," he says. "We can take control of our destinies. We don't have to ask the government 'Don't cut welfare.' We don't have to be mad at the Koreans taking over those storefronts. We can take over those storefronts."
But first, he needs to meet those mortgage payments.
Forum tackles tough times
Because of the recession taking its toll on the city, the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Sisterhood devoted its annual Interfaith Institute forum this week to widening volunteer efforts of religious-based social service programs.
In previous years, institutes have tended to offer forums for interfaith discussion of theological issues or of political topics that affect religion. But this year, the 32nd year of the institute, organizers brought in representatives of public and private sector social service agencies to talk about how volunteers could get involved in dealing with hunger, homelessness and education. Among the more than 20 agencies represented were synagogues and churches presenting programs of their own that other congregations might adopt.
"Rather than just discussing, we were trying to get different religious congregations to act," said Naomi Benzil, first vice president of the sisterhood.
Rabbi Murray Saltzman said the departure from the traditional institute topics was prompted by personal stories of how the recession was harming the middle class as well as the poor.
Artifacts sought for exhibit
The Jewish Historical Society of Maryland is asking supporters to scour their attics and basements for artifacts for an upcoming exhibit -- "Fertile Ground: Two Hundred Years of Jewish Life in Baltimore."
The exhibit, which opens in May at the Jewish Heritage Center on Lloyd Street, will divide its overview of Baltimore Jewish life into three segments in which Jews built strong communities here: the German period, the Eastern European period and the suburban period.
Among the suburban artifacts the society is seeking for display are a complete bar-mitzvah suit dating from 1955 to 1965, photographs of families moving to the suburbs and unusual kosher packaging or delicatessen memorabilia.
Anyone wishing to lend or contribute pieces for the exhibit may call Barry Kessler, the society's assistant director and curator at 732-6400.
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