Shepherd's Crook Gathers Flock At New Location - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Shepherd's Crook Gathers Flock At New Location

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St. Paul's By The Sea - Episcopal Church St. Paul's By The Sea - Episcopal Church
Lands End Fellowship Lands End Fellowship

OCEAN CITY, Md. - Because of inclement weather on Tuesday, Shepherd's Crook volunteers set up shop at a new location. They continued their food ministry indoors, because of the generosity of another community church.

A makeshift sign outside of Land's End Fellowship, on 102 Worcester Street, marked the location.

Volunteers say everyone was invited to come out of the cold and rain to grab food, a warm cup of coffee, and fellowship. "We're not giving up. It's still alive," volunteer Gabriel Mills tells WMDT. "God is still here."

The fire at Saint Paul's By The Sea, Episcopal Church, more than two weeks ago, has not stopped volunteers from handing out food and clothing to those in need. Just a day after the fire, volunteers were reportedly outside the ruined rectory, serving the community. But Land's End Fellowship offered them a roof over their heads. "I am so grateful," says Brenda Dingwall, who was at Land's End helping with the food ministry, "I am grateful to Pastor Rich, and ministry, for letting us use their building and letting the Shepherd's Crook continue, even when our building isn't there.

"Just because our building isn't there, doesn't mean that people aren't hungry. And for us to have the opportunity to continue to feed people, and to gather, is just an amazing gift.

"Yeah, it's kind of nice not to be standing out in the rain," Brenda said with an appreciative smile.

WMDT sat down with Brenda and a number of volunteers to discuss the state of the church, the food ministry, and the death of Reverend David Dingwall. Brenda tells WMDT's Emily Lampa she is doing okay. "David and I had had a number of discussions, because we knew that his ministries were not riskless," explains Brenda. "He's been chased around by people with knives before. And he's had other things happen.

"We had decided that each one of these people is so important that it was worth the risk, and we made each other a promise that if anything happened to either one of us that we would continue to serve."

And now Brenda's focus is addressing what she believes is a glaring need in the community, "Anybody who has lived on the shore knows that there is not enough mental healthcare and we need to change that."

She hopes to create a comprehensive center, through the Shepherd's Crook, that not only offers food and clothing but social and legal services, as well as physical and mental healthcare.

"Everything that people in need need to get back on their feet. We're just starting in this process," Brenda tells WMDT's Emily Lampa, "You're the very first person, I've articulated this vision to, and so, at this point I'm going to put it out to the community.

"This is what we need to do. Let's do this together. Let's make a difference for our community and make sure that we can service those in need so that nobody ever has to set themselves on fire again, because they're in so much pain."

WMDT asked Bruce Young, volunteer coordinator, how the homeless community is responding to the tragedy, to which Bruce Young responded with tears, "I've talked to several of them that feel guilty because their community did this, and I said, 'No, was not anybody's fault.'"

According to police 56 year-old John Raymond Sterner of Ocean City was responsible for the fire. Investigators say he doused himself with gasoline, set himself on fire, and walked into the church rectory on November 26th.

In terms of the future of the church, Young tells us a considerable amount of work still needs to be done. The rectory itself requires many repairs, but no word on what that entails or how long it will take. The sanctuary was spared much of the damage, but Bruce Young tells WMDT cleaning is still underway. WMDT drove by the church on Tuesday to find a number of cleaning trucks still parked outside the church. Young says crews moved all of the pews out of the church for cleaning and they need to move it all back once the cleaning is complete.

In the meantime, church services are back on property, but are being held in the church hall on 3rd street, instead of in the sanctuary. We're told there will be Christmas Eve Services in the church hall.

If you would like to donate food or clothing to the Shepherd's Crook, Young asks that you hold onto items for the time being. They currently have no place to store donations. Just call the Shepherd's Crook at 410-289-3453 to tell them what items you have, and they'll let you know when they need them.

At this time, volunteers plan to continue distributing food on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10am - noon, as usual. But they're not sure where the food ministry will take place. This Thursday, they will be back at Land's End Ministry on Worcester Street. The Shepherd's Crook services about 48 people on an average day.

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