Wednesday, June 18, 2014Download All Stories
Annie's church transforms to reach Baltimore's inner city
BALTIMORE (BP) -- Ryan Palmer admitted he was skeptical when he was called to pastor a dying church in Baltimore's inner city, where storied missionary Annie Armstrong was once a member.A theater major and attorney, Palmer had made other plans with wife Leslie, the two of them members of the Seventh Baptist Church that had then dwindled from a high of 2000 to only 17 members."And in 2003 I was actually called and asked to pastor the remnant. The previous pastor was burned out. He said, 'Brother this is where God wants you. He sent you and I believe you are the next pastor,'" Palmer told Baptist Press. "And like Sarah, Abraham's wife, I laughed. My idea was to be bicoastal. I was going to have a home on the East Coast and two aircraft, a home in L.A. and work in the entertainment industry."
Palmer's idyllic picture differed from the Baltimore he ministers to today, where openly homosexual and transsexual pastors lead churches a stone's throw away from his. It's also where heroin addicts, the homeless, prostitutes, alcoholics, committed blue-collar workers, affluent professionals, artists and college students all live within a two-mile radius of the architecturally rich church founded in 1845 and rebuilt after a 1919 fire.
On June 8, the Sunday prior to the Southern Baptist Convention 2014 annual meeting, Palmer relaunched the congregation as Seventh Metro Church. Fred Luter, who had mentored Palmer in ministry, preached the service as one of the last sermons of his term as Southern Baptist Convention president.
Luter commissioned Palmer and the 15 or so Seventh Metro members in ministry, joined on the occasion by perhaps 300 Southern Baptist friends and supporters.
"Father, in the name of Jesus, on behalf of the churches and messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention, on behalf of NAMB -- the North American Mission Board, God we right now want to pray and lift up the Seventh Metro Church," Luter prayed. "Thank you for these committed and faithful members. Bless them God collectively and individually. God we commission them. We send them out from this day forth God to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. ... We lift them up to you God. Give them the boldness and strength that they need God to go throughout the highways and the byways of Baltimore God, and compel lost men and women, boys and girls to come." Read More
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