By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
BROOKLYN, Md.—Streetlite Christian Fellowship’s “Transformation Center,” dedicated on June 8 on Pontiac Avenue in Brooklyn, Md., is “the fruition of a dream—of a God-given vision,” said Brian Zimmerman, pastor of Streetlite Christian Fellowship, Federal Hill.
Originally, the building on the Pontiac Avenue site was a Methodist church founded in 1868 and an historical document records “Rev. Zimmerman from Federal Hill” spoke there as a guest speaker. Now, over a century and a half later, the Transformation Center continues the legacy of those long-ago believers. “Rev. Zimmerman has returned,” Brian Zimmerman said with a smile.
The new center will be a place of refuge, offering food and clothing, health services, family restoration services, arts and media, addictions counseling, vocational training, a school and a church.
“We believe that the key to an exponential movement of God in our city is for the transformed to become the catalyst of spiritual transformation,” Zimmerman said.
The dedication service packed the old Pontiac Avenue sanctuary. The traditional facility has stained glass windows, wooden pews and an organ. In addition to the praise band leading worship, including a rallying cry song, “God of this City,” the organ was used for a rousing rendition of “To God Be the Glory.”
Jimmy Draper was the special guest for the event. Draper is a former Southern Baptist Convention president and president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources. Draper and Zimmerman served together at First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas.
Draper said, “What we celebrate today is when the past meets the future. “And God knew how it was going to come together.
Over 20 years ago, Brian Zimmerman made a commitment to serve Jesus at the Mallory Center in Baltimore, a mission established to help those in need. It is where he met his wife Carol, whose parents ministered at the Mallory Center where Streetlite Christian Fellowship is currently located. James Brinkley, Carol’s father was Zimmerman’s spiritual mentor. After Brian attended seminary in Texas, the Zimmermans returned to Baltimore to start Streetlite Christian Fellowship. Over 2,000 people have made commitments of faith at Streetlite since it began in 1995. Over 800 have been baptized.
“We are standing on the brink of a new beginning,” Draper said at the dedication. “We can look to the past with gratitude and to the future with confidence.”
Draper prayed that when the news media sees the results of the Transformation Center as years go by, they describe the results as something only God could do.
The congregation and visitors gathered outside for the official ribbon cutting of the new center.
Streetlite, under Zimmerman’s leadership, has had a missional strategy to focus on establishing transformational ministries in five targeted neighborhoods of Baltimore: Federal Hill, Brooklyn, Cherry Hill, Westport and “Pigtown,” a southwest Baltimore neighborhood.
For over a year, a group of Streetlite members gathered at 5 a.m. outside, in all kinds of weather, to pray for God to open a site for a transformation center. “We claimed the many promises and prayed for the privilege to spread the Kingdom of God to our city.” They also used devotional material from Mark Batterson’s “Draw the Circle: The 40-Day Prayer Challenge,” based on Joshua 3, relating the account of the Israelites preparing to cross the Jordan River. God commanded the priests to walk into the river. They had to take that step before God parted the waters.
“We’ll never see God part the Jordan River if our feet are firmly planted on dry ground. But if we step into the river, God will part it. If you want to see God move, make a move,” Batterson writes. Streetlite Christian Fellowship took a step of faith. They are moving forward.