At first glance, the social problems prevailing within the 72 or so blocks that make up the Sandtown neighbor hood in West Baltimore are depressingly familiar: median income below the poverty level; infant mortality at 27 percent (three times the national aver age); unemployment exceeding 50 percent; the crime rate one of the highest in Baltimore City. But a second, deeper understanding of this same community reveals something extraordinary going on within it: “New Song Urban Ministries”– an island of energy, hope, and promise in the heart of it, centered in a corner rowhouse at Gilmor and Presstman Streets. Although the name is an umbrella for a community church, Habitat For Humanity, Community Learning Center, Family Health Services, and Eden Jobs, all are functions of the ministry of a neighborhood based staff of almost 50.
This complex of human services did not spring full-blown from a planners blueprint. It came about incrementally, with much struggle, as answers to Susan and Allan Tibbels and Rev. Mark Gornik’s resolve to make their lives spiritually meaningful. “We wanted to love God,” Mr. Tibbels says, “and love our neighbors as ourselves.” With that credo, in 1986 Mr. Tibbels and his wife Susan sold their rancher in leafy-green Columbia, and with their two daughters, joining the Rev. Gornik, moved into one of the most distressed areas of the inner city.
Out of this extraordinary commitment, the development programs that define New Song have taken root in Sandtown, and are growing in reach and influence.
Here are answered prayers:
Abell Salutes “New Song Urban Ministries” — for providing energy, setting up hope, and delivering on its promise in Sandtown.