**FILE** Courtesy of ccocmd.org
**FILE** Courtesy of ccocmd.org

Baltimore became somewhat of a political football in recent weeks as President Trump sniped with city lawmakers, but people of many races set the controversy aside last weekend during the Central Church of Christ’s 18th annual Community Outreach Day.

While many streets in West Baltimore are lined with boarded-up properties, the church in Edmondson Village has been a towering beacon of hope. On a lovely Saturday, it welcomed hundreds from small children to seniors as dozens of vendors filled the first floor of the massive church.

Additionally, gently used clothing and shoes for infants, children, men and women were distributed, along with food and snacks.

Seniors listened intently during a workshop on diabetes while small children played inside a bounce house. Meanwhile, Willie Rupert, the church’s minister, led state and city officials on a tour of a currently vacant lot where the church plans to expand.

“The importance of this event is making the community aware of all the social services available in the city,” Rupert said. “This being faith-based, it ties everything together because this is a partnership.”

Rupert was joined by state Comptroller Peter Franchot, Rev. Jerome Stephens, an aide to Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and other state officials on the tour of the block where two homes had been purchased and renovated by the church.

“Given all of the crazy things that we read in the paper, these events are crucial,” Franchot said.

Baltimore City Comptroller Joan Pratt concurred.

“It was important to have the children here,” she said. “You can see that they are having a great time. … That’s what we need — more activities for young people.”

Franchot noted how the church has purchased and renovated properties and he plans to help them do more.

“We are going to help the church unify the lot in front of us, we are going to help them with assisted living and I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

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