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Race for a Place to raise money for 'church community in action'

Immanuel's House's mission 'seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God'

July 05, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Two years ago, three women — a Lutheran minister and two lay persons — founded Immanuel’s House, an ecumenical “church community in action” dedicated to a social ministry through a strong outreach program.

The founders — Mary Gunderson King, 31, of Hedgesville, W.Va.; Carmen Winiarski, a member of Hub City Vineyard in Hagerstown; and Karen Erskine Valentine, pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Sharpsburg — met at Trinity United Methodist Church in Martinsburg, Gunderson King said.

A fourth member, Teresa Aguilera, came on board later and serves the community’s Hispanic-speaking patrons, she said.

Immanuel’s House’s mission, said Gunderson King, quoting Micah 6:8, is “seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.”

Among its efforts are providing community support to nonprofit and government agencies and churches; a Suds and Bubbles laundry program for the poor; helping people secure documents for their West Virginia ID card, which is necessary to apply for assistance programs; a cold weather shelter; a jail and prison ministry and eventually a community garden network, Gunderson King said.

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Its ministry is aimed at the elderly, youth, poor, disadvantaged, homeless and lost souls “who just need a welcoming hand by providing a cup of coffee and peer support,” a mission statement said.

For now, the church holds worship service Mondays at 5:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 108 W. Stephens St.

“Anywhere from 50 to 120 people show up for the services,” she said. “We always have a community meal afterwards.”

The members are trying to raise money for a down payment to buy a large building on Buxton Street that will serve as its worship space and community center.

Once purchased, it will take about $2,500 a month to pay the mortgage and fund the ministries, Gunderson King said.

“That will be a big leap of faith,” she said.

The community has fundraisers and accepts donations from members, individuals, churches and the business community, she said.

Last year, the first Race for a Place 5K run/walk and 10K run, held on a cross-country loop at the Berkeley County Poor House Farm Park, raised more than $4,500, said Bart Cookus, event organizer.

This year’s Race for a Place will be held Saturday at the park with an expectation to double last year’s take, Cookus said.

Registration, which costs $30 for the 5K and $40 for the 10K, begins at 7:30 a.m. with the race starting at 8 a.m., Cookus said.

The course can be as challenging as participants chose to make it. It will be held rain or shine.

To reach Poor House Farm Park, go west on King Street at its intersection with Interstate 81 for about three miles. Go left at the sign at the road leading into the park.

For more information, email Cookus at raceforaplace@hotmail.com.

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