Anyone who is down on his or her luck can count on the Union Rescue Mission for help, whether it’s guidance, a basic meal, free clothing or a warm place to stay on a frigid night.
Longtime residents of Cumberland know that the mission, located on Queen City Pavement beside the CSX railroad tracks near the busy intersection of Baltimore Street, Henderson Avenue and Park Street, operates on donations and promotes Jesus Christ’s teachings of loving one’s neighbors regardless of their situations or shortcomings.
The trouble is, despite its long local track record of good works in our community, it seems as though nobody wants the shelter as a neighbor.
The city has its eye on the row of connected buildings occupied by the mission for future development, and several Columbia Street residents have objected to the possibility of the nonprofit organization moving to a renovated building there that formerly housed a church and later a synagogue. They are worried about homeless people and those with substance abuse issues and other problems. They have started a petition drive against the relocation.
It’s a classic case of NIMBY, or Not in My Backyard syndrome, in which otherwise decent, God-fearing folks react vehemently in opposition to a proposed development near their homes.
The resistance often has the desired effect, putting the kibosh on said idea.
Also known as the Doorway to Hope at the Gateway to the West, the Union Rescue Mission has been working to save lives and souls since the early 1960s, when it was founded by the late Rev. Cecil Taylor and his wife, the late Ella Jane “Janie” Taylor. Their son, the late Rev. Dan Taylor, a decorated, longtime member of the armed forces, took over the ministry and continued to feed, clothe and house men, women and children, whom Cecil Taylor called our “needy neighbors,” until his retirement.
Pastor David Ziler is in charge now, providing services to those who seek assistance with available funding and other resources at his disposal. It is a place of faith as well as food, where spiritual nourishment is also available.
The clergyman is steadfast in his belief that the mission must stay in the center of the city, easily accessible to the folks who need help. A former church seems like a perfect spot.
We hope a place can eventually be found that’s acceptable to all parties involved, where faith can overcome fear and love can surpass loathing.