An agency of the national United Methodist Church awarded a $450,000 grant to 10 community development projects in Baltimore neighborhoods where the denomination has a presence.
The money from the Methodists' national mission board is the first installment of what could be a three-year commitment to funding the projects, said Bishop Felton Edwin May, who leads the denomination's Baltimore- Washington Conference. The urban churches, supported by Methodists in the more affluent suburbs, will be expected to match the grant, either in cash or through volunteer efforts.
Although the Methodist church has funded individual projects or initiatives in individual churches, this is the first time it has made this kind of a commitment to a citywide initiative for community development.
"We feel we have churches that are strategically placed in Baltimore to carry out these initiatives," May said. "The denomination is investing in us because we have the potential to do what the denomination has been talking about in urban ministry over the years."
May noted that Baltimore is the birthplace of the United Methodist Church. The Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1785 during the Christmas Conference of Methodist preachers held at Lovely Lane Chapel in Baltimore.
"We are very pleased that Baltimore, as the birthplace of our denomination, was chosen to model for the nation how churches working together with each other and others across the city can make a difference," he said.
The first projects to be funded include:
A health center at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Forest Park.
Outreach, education and counseling with at-risk youth through the St. Paul's Christian Education Center in East Baltimore.
Family, children and youth ministries coordinated by Mount Winans United Methodist Church in Westport.
Child and youth programs at Arlington United Methodist Church in Pimlico.
Women and family ministries through the United Methodist Susannah Wesley House in Mount Vernon.
In addition, the conference will establish a regional center that will provide assistance and training to the city's Methodist churches in planning, economic development, program evaluation and fund raising.
These initiatives are based on the Methodist's Shalom Zone, a community development model that was developed under May's leadership after the 1992 Los Angeles riots. In a Shalom Zone, a local church gathers representatives from the community who represent its assets, religious and secular. Then they decide on a strategy for improving the community.
Pub Date: 12/22/98