It was September of 2009, on a parking lot in downtown Annapolis, Maryland...often referred to as the "Old Fourth Ward" or "Harlem of Annapolis." Our task that day: to clean a chain link fence covered in vines and scattered with debris at the Stanton Community Center. This center, once known as Bates Elementary School and one of the first African American school houses in the city, now serves as a gathering place for the people of the community. The faces on the colorful mural near the entrance speak to the history and pride of what once was, and a longing for it's return.
Relationships began to form that day and there have been many since. Earlier that year we had joined a group of twenty-five individuals commissioned out of Bay Area Community Church to plant a church in downtown Annapolis called Downtown Hope. With a common understanding of our own impoverished state, and a desire to share the good news of the gospel in word and deed... juxtaposed against a backdrop of issues such as drug addiction, violent crime, homelessness, fatherlessness...the Stanton Center Missional Community was formed. Through the numerous conversations, we observed that many were without hope, without a voice, with a history of being displaced, a history of unmet promises (particularly following the construction of a parking garage in the 1970's). Our vision became increasingly clear... "to bring...and to be... a voice of life to the brokenhearted." (Isaiah 61:1-3) We began to share the good news, right where the people were...on the streets. Thus began "Church on the Lot". Every Sunday morning, on the parking lot of the Stanton Community Center, rain or shine, sleet or snow, we were there. Cookout's and music were a common occurrence.
Many partnerships were formed with local nonprofit organizations, local churches and businesses. There have been annual clothing drives, street parades, park beautification projects, back to school events... to name a few. The sense of pride and community was palpable. The gifts and talents of the community members on full display.
Every first Sunday of the month you will find us with 80-100 local residents sharing a meal together as we seek to bring "unity to the community." This has become commonly referred to as "Supper & a Story". The idea is quite simple, share a meal together... hear the stories of the people and share the stories of God's presence in our midst. This "initiative" is currently led by, planned by, and executed by a group of talented individuals from the community. This is one of the ways that we are identifying what is good about the community as opposed to what needs "to be fixed."
In June of 2013, the Stanton Center Missional Community was commissioned out of Downtown Hope to begin a new expression of church in the city...Allelon Community Church. We are one of a growing number of church plant's throughout the mid-Atlantic region through the SENT Network. Our vision remains the same. Why "Allelon?"... you may ask. Allelon is the Greek word for "one-another." We are devoted to practicing the various one-anothering commands found some ninety times in the New Testament. We are a community of followers of Jesus who are radically committed to loving God, loving others, and making disciples...one relationship at a time.
In August of 2013 prayers were answered and we were blessed with a house within walking distance of the Old Fourth Ward. This is a safe, welcoming environment for people to come together every Friday evening and Sunday morning. Bible studies (discipleship groups) are held throughout the week. "One-anothering" is indeed happening inside the walls of Franklin Street...but perhaps more importantly...outside of the walls and into the homes, the places of work and play... the everyday rhythms of life.
Over the past five years we have witnessed countless stories of God's amazing grace. Lives...families...and an entire community is being transformed for the glory of God. Our story...God's story continues as we love God, love one another and help a few to follow. We invite you to come "one-another" with us.