2 congregations will move to vacant commercial sites


June 30, 1994|By Reported by Frank P. L. Somerville

Two long-established congregations in the Baltimore area, one Christian and the other Jewish, are planning moves to

vacant commercial properties, where expansions will include rehabilitation and adaptation of buildings as well as construction.

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, which has worshiped at 1801 E. Preston St. since 1949, broke ground in ceremonies Sunday morning at a boarded-up shopping mall, the old City Line Discount Center at 6000 Radecke Ave., where a 3,000-seat sanctuary is to be built.

Also planned for the Northeast Baltimore hilltop site at the Baltimore County line are a chapel, day school, day nursery, family life-enrichment center and facility for senior citizens.

The Rev. Clifford M. Johnson, who has been pastor of the growing Mount Pleasant congregation since 1970, said financing was obtained from First National Bank of Maryland.

Also on Sunday, the members of Randallstown's Beth Israel Synagogue approved purchase of an 88,000-square-foot building -- originally designed for light manufacturing -- on 10 acres at Owings Mills Boulevard and Crondall Lane.

The Conservative Jewish congregation, which has worshiped at 9411 Liberty Road for about 30 years, intends to renovate half of the commercial building as its new synagogue and lease the remainder.

"The rapidly growing Jewish population in Owings Mills and Reisterstown has awaited Beth Israel's creation of a permanent home in which they can worship, study, educate their children and celebrate Jewish living together," said Rabbi Richard J. Margolis, the congregation's spiritual leader.

In recent years, many Beth Israel members have moved north of Randallstown, he said.

Lou Friedman, president of the congregation, said the building at 3706 Crondall Lane can be converted readily to provide a comfortable sanctuary -- to which the stained glass panels and memorial plaques of the existing synagogue will be moved -- and a religious school, library, chapel, youth lounge, social hall, kitchen and offices.

"This will be a very cost-effective and time-saving move because we're starting with a sound structure that can be modified for use in a relatively short period," Mr. Friedman said.

Meanwhile, members of Randallstown's Colonial Baptist Church are set to vote after services Sunday on a sale to another church of its complex at 4619 Old Court Road. Approval would enable Colonial's move before the end of the year to the larger Beth Israel building on Liberty Road.

The sale of Beth Israel's property to Colonial was tentatively approved by both congregations in March.

Beth Israel will move from its Liberty Road synagogue in %J November, Mr. Friedman said. During a transition period, Sabbath services will be held at Owings Mills High School and religious school classes at Franklin Middle School.

Victory marked

The Baltimore Coalition for Church Rights, an interdenominational Christian group that helped defeat a City Council bill to recognize "domestic partnerships" outside of traditional marriage, celebrated its success Saturday night at Israel Baptist Church in East Baltimore.

About 100 people attended what was called a celebration banquet.

The Rev. Otto Anthony Mazzoni, coordinator of the coalition, said, "The response shows that our efforts in unifying and mobilizing the religious community throughout the city are paying off."

Several ministers said the interracial coalition must remain ready to fight similar "moral battles" in the days ahead. The evening's speakers included the Rev. John A. Dekker, radio personality and pastor of Cub Hill Bible Presbyterian Church in Baltimore County.

& Information: 448-5041.

Pastor honored

The Rev. Daly Barnes of Greater Tried Stone Baptist Church in Washington will preach at services July 10 at New Antioch Baptist Church of Randallstown, marking the 16th anniversary of the pastorate of the Rev. Kenneth L. Barney. Information: 521-7866.

Prayers for Rwanda

Catholic Relief Services has scheduled an interfaith service of prayers for war-torn Rwanda at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Basilica of the Assumption, Cathedral and Mulberry streets, Baltimore. The public is invited.

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