Embrace Baltimore

Catonsville Church Intentionally Serves Community

by Sharon Mager

When Catonsville Baptist Church made a commitment to serve their community, that community responded.

Last fall, Catonsville members served free food to over three hundred people who attended the church’s first classic car show.

“For our very first car show the community’s response was phenomenal,” Mark Klimovitz, Catonsville’s senior pastor said excitedly.
Klimovitz was also thrilled with the church’s willingness to serve. One church member shared her faith for the very first time and as a result, a woman made a confession of faith and is now regularly attending the church. Members are already making plans for another car show this fall.

In June, the church will begin hosting outdoor movie nights. They’ll close off their parking lot and invite people to bring their bicycles, lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy free inspiring movies.

It’s all part of the church’s emphasis on reaching their community for Christ.

“Our community sits on the National Highway, Frederick Road. It’s a historical landmark. We want to build off of the history of the community and use that as a venue to engage the community and share the gospel.”

After the car show, about one-fourth of the church turned out for a “More to Life” Bible study, dealing with relational evangelism. Church members went to the second floor of the building and prayed over the city. They drove their church van through the community, sang worship songs and prayed.

Thirty-five people are now attending Wednesday night services. Members meet together for worship music and fellowship and to view the video based Bible programs. Afterwards, they meet in small groups, and then return together for prayer time.

Now they’re forming an AWANA team and plan to kick off the program in the fall. Two people signed up to be AWANA leaders in December and by February God raised up a dozen people to serve on the ministry team.

Klimovitz said the community has a large population of single parents. He hopes the AWANA program during the Wednesday services will encourage single parents to attend, providing a place of spiritual nourishment for themselves and their children. Klimovitz also wants to see the church become intentional about ministering to single parent families throughout the week, discovering their needs and serving them.

The church is preparing to kick off a coffeehouse open mic ministry for young adults. They’ve moved cafe style furniture into two rooms and added coffeehouse type decor. Associate Pastor of Family and Young Adult Ministries, Pastor Barry Adamson, who was called to the church this month, will oversee that ministry.

The church is continually seeking ways to expand their ministry into the community.

“Many people think of Catonsville as urban because we’re on the city line ... but it has a small town flavor. We’re a sidewalk community, which provides us many opportunities to serve the neighborhood around us. And it’s socially and economically diverse.

Klimovitz accepted the call to Catonsville Church in October 2010. This is his first pastorate. He accepted Christ in 1998 while taking a youth group to a Newsboys concert.

“I was actively involved in the church, but I wasn’t a true believer. I took the teens but it was me God spoke to. Shortly afterwards, I felt the Lord calling me into ministry.”

He attended Washington Bible College and later took classes through the Southern Seminary extension program offered at the Baptist Mission Resource Center.

The new pastor had a 25-year career as the retail sales manager of Kraft Foods.

“I gave my boss my three years’ notice during a performance review and told him I was in seminary. He didn’t understand. He thought I was nuts,” Klimovitz chuckled. “I went from working for the world’s largest food and beverage company to working for One who offers the bread of life and living water,” he said.

“My wife, Cathy, supported me in every step of the journey,” Klimovitz said. He also relied heavily on the support of local pastors and the Baltimore Baptist Association.

Klimovitz admits stepping from a secular workplace to pastoring a church was a unique experience. He said he is very grateful for the pastors who rallied around him and encouraged him, sharing with him their own personal struggles and victories.

The BBA partnered with Catonsville Church providing support in various ways, including mobilizing a mission team from North Carolina that came and provided 500 hours worth of work on a heating system, which provided the church the funds to buy new heating units and saved the church money to use towards outreach.

“In the environment we’re in, with the economy and challenges we face, we need to be strengthening the partnerships and relations we have. It’s not just financial, though. Parnterships offer opportunities to bounce ideas off of each other, to learn what’s working in other places. You may find someone has gone down that path and they can help you and give you a new perspective.