Church's goal: Rebuilt homes
The Towson Unitarian Universalist Church is holding a conference in March to engage local religious organizations and other private sector institutions in a program of rehabilitating thousands of abandoned, boarded-up houses in Baltimore.
The model for this project is Habitat for Humanity, an ecumenical Christian group that has remodeled old houses in the city since 1981.
Under the Habitat model, a poor family works with Habitat volunteers in rebuilding the house that the family will own. The new owners pay an interest-free mortgage that helps finance rehabilitation of other houses for other families.
George Kostritsky, a member of the Towson church and an organizer of the conference, said he hopes religious leaders, city planners, politicians, and private institutions will attend. The purpose of the meeting is to figure out ways of dividing city-owned and privately owned abandoned houses among these groups for rehabilitation projects.
The conference is scheduled for noon March 8 at the church, 1710 Dulaney Valley Road.
After four years of meeting in school buildings, the Kingsway Christian Center is inviting the public to a grand opening of its new sanctuary, which is clearly visible from Interstate 95 and the Beltway.
The Kingsway Christian Center, part of the Pentecostal Holiness denomination, has been worshiping at the new site since January. But the official opening is Sunday, starting with services at 10:30 a.m. followed by refreshments. The church is at 7403 Gum Spring Road in Parkville.
About four years ago, the congregation, previously known as the Baltimore Pentecostal Holiness Church, sold its building at 6000 Loch Raven Blvd., and purchased a 7 1/2 -acre farm at the end of Gum Spring Road for $250,000. The congregation expected they would have to wait about 18 months for their new building to be built. But delays in getting a county building permit dragged out the wait to four years.
The Rev. J. Wesley Potter, pastor, attributed the delay to several factors, including an access road that passed through a flood zone. The center had to negotiate the purchase of another acre of land from an adjacent resident where an emergency access road could be built.
In the meantime, the membership stayed more or less constant at 410 people, Mr. Potter said, but attendance at services dropped 30 percent as the church met in school buildings that often were hot. There was no air conditioning in the summer and too much heat in the winter. The church paid about $70,000 to Baltimore County over those years, he said, to rent space, first at Parkville Middle School, then at Overlea High School.
Mr. Potter said more of the church members are returning for services in the new building. He expects the prominent location, with a big sign to be floodlit at night, will draw more people.
Mr. Potter has presided over the construction of two other new church buildings at previous pastorates in South Carolina. "I've come to look at church property the way a good real estate agent looks at property," he said.
Abortion survivor to speak
A 14-year-old girl who says she survived a botched, late-term abortion will be speaking tonight at Loyola College, offering her own origins as a case against abortion.
The talk by Gianna Jessen starts at 7:30 p.m. in McGuire Hall at the college. It is free and sponsored by Defend Life, a local anti-abortion group. She gives talks throughout the country against abortion.
Miss Jessen lives in San Clemente with her adoptive mother, who has said the girl's adoption papers note she emerged alive from a saline abortion, weighing about 2 pounds.
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