Methodist Church to give $50,000 to aid rebuilding in city's Sandtown area New bishop makes pledge to city, partnership

September 16, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

City and private efforts to rebuild the blighted Sandtown section of Baltimore will be enhanced by $50,000 from the United Methodist Church, Bishop Felton E. May announced yesterday.

It was the bishop's first official act since he was appointed in July to head the church's Baltimore-Washington Conference.

May announced the financial commitment yesterday as he stood in front of a stretch of abandoned buildings across from the Ames United Methodist Church in the 600 block of Baker St. in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood in West Baltimore.

The abandoned buildings and about 80 others will be rehabilitated by the city and three groups -- Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), Enterprise, and Nehemiah Development Inc. -- by the end of next year, said Kathleen O'Toole, BUILD's lead organizer.

In a decision made before May's appointment, the conference offices on Greenwich Avenue are being moved to Columbia from their West Baltimore location, where they have been burglarized and staff members have had their cars stolen or vandalized.

To demonstrate his commitment to Baltimore, May said he would donate the $50,000 -- part of the proceeds from the sale of the property -- to the partnership.

May said he "pledged his presence, life and resources" to the effort known as Partnership to Rebuild the Walls of the City. "How can I be the shepherd of 220,000 people and not share in the rebuilding?" May asked about two dozen church and city officials and Ames members yesterday at the announcement ceremony.

May also declared the area a "Shalom Zone," a United Methodist Church program to combine church and residents' efforts to improve a community. Shalom means "peace" in Hebrew.

"Each step like this gives people greater hope," said Baltimore Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III, of the United Methodist Church's donation. Though the city has made "tremendous progress" on fixing the "bricks and mortar" in the Sandtown community, Henson said, the involvement of churches works to "uplift lives."

The brief ceremony was followed by a welcome service for May at the Metropolitan United Methodist Church in the 1100 block of W. Lanvale St.

Pub Date: 9/16/96

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