By Amelia Blades Steward
When you walk in the door, the building’s historic brick walls peak through colorful murals featuring billowy clouds and blue sky, immediately giving guests the feeling of hope.
Many churches of different denominations in and around Cambridge have banded together to create a new initiative called One Mission Cambridge – a coalition of Christian churches and ministries called to meet the physical and spiritual needs of men, women and children in the Cambridge area. The organization’s name “One Mission” comes from all the churches having the same mission: to love God and to love their neighbors. All Christian Churches are invited to participate in this exciting organization.
The organization’s new home at 614 Race Street in Cambridge is the ideal location to serve some of the community’s most vulnerable populations. The building includes a storefront on Race Street with a large communal space in the rear of the building. The idea is to consolidate some of the area’s food pantries and to offer a food pantry store where people can shop for what they need in a dignified manner.
In addition, the center will offer community navigation with computers onsite for people to research jobs and complete job applications and look up resources to help them connect to community services. In the back of the storefront there is a private meeting room to offer Christian counseling and support groups. Further back, a large community space is available to host community dinners for about 120 people. These dinners hope to start in the fall on the first Monday of each month and will include a sit-down dinner, along with a Bible reading and discussion, as well as music and art enrichment.
One Mission Cambridge is about the Body of Christ working together – combining resources and people. Where church members come together with members of the community discipleship can happen.
Shirley Jackson, of Waugh Chapel United Methodist Church, stated, “Community does not mean just one, it means everyone. So, it will be a good site for us to all come together and serve.”
In the summer of 2021, a volunteer subcommittee brought people from the community together and interviewed nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies to determine the unmet needs in the community and what services could be provided. The survey revealed that people in the community have a heart for others, there are a lot of great organizations helping people, there are a lot of programs focused on youth, and there needs to be a place for people to talk, listen and provide guidance on getting help and encouragement.
“Our church had a thriving soup mission on Wednesday afternoons for several years. And then COVID hit, and we were in the process of discussing how we were going to start that back up when we learned about One Mission Cambridge and we thought this is our way to get back involved again serving the community,” stated Barbara Schneider from Cambridge Wesleyan Church.
To date, over 30 churches have expressed interest in working with One Mission Cambridge. Krista Pettit, who began working on the project as a volunteer with Grace United Methodist Church and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, recognized the need in the community when talking with other churches.
Krista, who has assumed the leadership role of One Mission Cambridge, “We just feel like God’s opened the door for this project to happen – the doors just kept opening and we just kept walking through them. To help lift this vision off the ground, the United Methodist Church awarded the group a large grant to support our operations through their Congregational Development Corporation.”
“I just love the idea of churches working together, like a team, to really be the people that we’re supposed to be,” added Tonya McClain from Zion United Methodist Church, another partner in the project.
“I think the only reason why we’re here is to serve others. I’m all in,” stated Lynette Wongus from Union Chapel AME on Cordtown Road in Cambridge.
Krista shared a story about how apparent the needs are in the neighborhood where One Mission Cambridge is located. “While having a meeting the night before, someone in crisis came in for assistance. They are already coming in and we’re not even open yet. We had to run to the store to get this person what they needed, because we don’t have it yet onsite.”
The organization wants to partner with everyone providing services in the Cambridge area, including area food pantries, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and churches who, according to Krista, are doing tremendous work in the community.
Diane Twilley, from Grace United Methodist Church, added, “We have a missions committee at our church that I have kind of chaired for many years. I am super excited to be part of this and work with other churches on one goal.”
“I think when the churches work together, it’s going to transform this community. I just know it’s going to be really powerful,” Krista added.
One Mission Cambridge will be open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, from 1 to 6 p.m. and the second Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to noon. These hours were selected as times when other organizations aren’t open and to allow people who work to utilize the services.
Visit One Mission Cambridge on Facebook or at onemissioncambridge.org or call 443-521-6825. Donations may be made to One Mission Cambridge, P.O. Box 815, Cambridge, Maryland 21613.