Interfaith Ministries

The publication, Creative Tension (2017, edited by Carolyn Arena and Elizabeth Martin) tells the story of the development of interfaith life in Columbia, and examines the rich interactions of the various faiths that came together in the new city of Columbia, Maryland. Mission-oriented interfaith experiences, which were groundbreaking in the early 1970s, are still very much a part of our community.

Columbia Pregnancy Center

The Columbia Pregnancy Center is an independent, nonprofit medical clinic serving women and families in Howard County by providing free pregnancy-related services and life-affirming pregnancy choices. The center provides counseling and educational instruction through trained volunteers; additional volunteers provide leadership on the Board of Directors, office assistance, accounting and legal services, language interpretation, donation sorting, and event coordination.

The center collaborates with St. John’s on programs, obtains financial support from the Knights of Columbus, and relies on parishioners to fulfill volunteer needs. Other congregations are also involved in this interfaith ministry serving Howard County.

Contact: Nancy Vawter, Nancy.vawter@columbia-pregnancy.org or 410-730-3223
24/7 Hotline: 800-712-HELP (800-712-4357)

Home Repair Ministry (Appalachia Service Project and Howard County)

The Home Repair Ministry is a joint service program between St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic (SJERC) and St. John United (SJU). Although we do service projects for those in need in Howard County, our main focus is the Appalachia Service Project (ASP).

ASP is a week of service to help make homes warmer, safer and drier in the mountains of Appalachia. The program begins in October, culminating in the trip in June. Over the course of the year, volunteers participate in numerous fund-raising events (making and selling wreaths), share sales, dinners out), three days of sensitivity and construction skills training, and participation in a Howard County service project.

SJU began this ministry in 1980, and was joined by SJERC in 1990 to create this successful interfaith ministry. Together we send around 60 teenagers to Appalachia each summer. Interested students and adults are invited to learn more about this life-transforming volunteer project. Read more »

Contact: sjuaspmd@gmail.com

Interfaith Coalition for Compassion

This nonprofit organization helps prevent evictions and utility turnoffs, helps with prescriptions, provides access to a food pantry, and sponsors monthly Hospitality Center dinners. Volunteers engage with persons requesting assistance and verify the need for the requests by making calls to the organizations where the money will be sent. This organization is supported solely by donations from a wide variety of churches and synagogues within Howard County.

Contact: Sue Carpenter, sue3san@gmail.com and Jack Gegner, jacargeg@juno.com

Interfaith Hospitality Center

The Interfaith Hospitality Center is an activity of the Coalition for Compassion and St. John’s parish. The Center provides support for monthly dinners that are open to all. Volunteers cook meals, serve, clean up and provide special activities at the monthly dinners. The Center also undertakes special programs such as school supply drives, Secret Santa Shops, and holiday gift card giveaways, which are made possible by working in conjunction with interfaith partners.

While dinners were cancelled during the pandemic, we continued to provide information about resources for families through email. We also received a grant to provide cookbooks for budget-friendly meals and ingredients for one of the meals for 66 families.

Contact: Beverly Prosen, bprosen@hotmail.com

Wilde Lake Interfaith Library

The library has a collection of more than 4000 items, mostly books but with some videos and audiobooks, available for patrons of both SJERC and SJU to borrow at no charge. The library has a large collection of books on religion, prayer, scripture, and theology, as well as family life, self-care, society/social justice, history, biography, and fiction. The children’s section includes both religious and non-religious topics for all ages. The library has a small but growing collection of books in Spanish. The video collection includes DVD recordings of parish events, such as the Conversation Project talks provided by the Gift of Peace Ministry.

The library displays feature items for church seasons including Lent and Advent, and more general topics such as Black History Month in February, Women’s History Month in March, and the Season of Creation. Occasionally, the library holds special events, such as a children’s book reading, or a book discussion group. For the last couple of years, we have participated in the “One Maryland, One Book” program that supports community and conversation in Maryland by selecting a topical book and preparing discussion guides and other material. Parishioners can arrange for the donation of a new book to the library in honor of or in memory of a loved one.

Volunteers from both churches (SJERC and SJU) work together on all aspects of running the library, which is normally open on Sunday mornings from 9:00am to 12:30pm.

Covid-19 update: The Interfaith Library and the rest of the WLIFC remain closed, but we are requesting that you return your borrowed books and other items ASAP. You may drop off your items at the WLIFC office, weekdays between 9:30am and 4:00pm. Just ring the bell (outside the office door) and, following a brief delay, someone will come to open the door that is always kept locked, even when staff are working inside. If you are not able to return your borrowed items to this location / during these hours, please let us know, and we will make alternate arrangements to assist you with returning them. If you need a list of your borrowed items, likewise, let us know.

Contact: interfaithlibrary.wildelake@gmail.com

Please note: The Archdiocese of Baltimore requires all parish volunteers to be VIRTUS certified. This can all be done online, or by arrangement with the parish office.