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Maryland

Rev. Heber Brown III to step down as pastor of Baltimore’s Pleasant Hope Baptist to lead food security network

The Rev. Heber Brown III, a community activist in the Baltimore area for more than half a decade, will step away from the church he has led for 13 years to focus on developing a food security network.

Brown, 41, who has served as senior pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in North Baltimore since 2008, announced Sunday during a weekly online service that he’ll leave the post in May to concentrate his energies on developing the Black Church Food Security Network. He founded that initiative during the unrest that followed the death of Freddie Gray while in Baltimore Police custody in 2015.

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Pleasant Hope members have raised fruits and vegetables in a garden on the church grounds for more than a decade.

During what he has called the Baltimore Uprising of 2015, Brown said, he was contacted by so many other churches seeking produce from the garden that he decided to encourage other congregations to do the same on their grounds, and the network was launched.

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More than 70 churches are now members, including 10 in Baltimore and others as far away as Nebraska, Georgia and New York City. Brown and his partners in the nonprofit organization say there’s so much interest in the project that the network could double in size in the coming months.

While he said it’s difficult to step away from a congregation he loves, another mission is calling.

“Especially given the ongoing pandemic and the supply chain challenges we’re facing, issues of food and hunger have grabbed me and my passions so much,” Brown said. “It’s crucial to keep creating food systems around the country.”

His last service at Pleasant Hope will be May 1, he said. No replacement has been chosen.


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