Bible camp in the street: Ministry on a troubled corner

Five miles west and a little to the north of the tourist hub of Baltimore is a neighborhood called Mosher, which many refer to as “the other Baltimore.” Mosher is known as a rough area. More than half the children in the neighborhood live below the poverty line. It has an unemployment rate of 24 percent, with 90 percent of children in neighborhood schools receiving free and reduced lunch, and only 35 percent of eighth graders passing the state math exams in 2013. In many of the houses, three or four generations live under one roof. Other houses are vacant and boarded up.

Two years ago a local leader named Richard Parker asked Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church to consider providing a peaceful presence in Mosher. Parker had seen the spike in Baltimore violence and organized an antiviolence rally. Although the church is located only a mile west of Mosher, none of the members of Hunting Ridge live in the neighborhood. Members had been eager, however, to find a way to be engaged in the community.

Pastor Deborah Mc­Eachran and others from the church gathered every Friday at a street corner known for drug dealing and gang-related crime. The group stood on the corner for a few hours to reclaim it as a peaceful space.