Mt. Paran Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Baltimore is a living testimony to God’s command to us to welcome the stranger in our midst.
Less than a decade ago, this congregation with a part-time pastor and a handful of elderly white members opened its arms to embrace the culturally diverse community sprouting up around its edges.
At that time the congregation had been struggling financially. The people were tired and ready to give up. “We did an honest evaluation of ourselves, looked at our composition, and prayed for God to make us like the community,” says Edward Terry, a commissioned ruling elder who became the congregation’s spiritual leader in 2005.
It didn’t take long for God to answer their prayers. Two weeks later, an immigrant family from Cameroon visited the church. The family joined the congregation and told many others in their tight-knit, immigrant community about the friendly little church.
Today, Mt. Paran is a vibrant, multicultural, economically diverse congregation, with more than 200 members from several cultures: Native American, African, American, and Asian. The church’s diversity has also led to greater outreach to the local community.
Prayer is the key to Mt. Paran’s miraculous transformation. “We try to learn the best part of each culture and incorporate them, but it takes patience, time, and education,” says Terry. “Through it all, we remain devoted to prayer; preaching, teaching, and applying God’s truth as recorded in the Bible; celebrating the sacraments; and the fellowship of believers.”
Mt. Paran is one of 72 congregations in the Presbytery of Baltimore.
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