Officers Serve Food and Forgiveness at Temple Corps

By: Janeen Johnally

The Temple Corps in Baltimore serves some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the Central Maryland Area Command, and its clients often seek food assistance.

The corps, at 1601 W. Baltimore St., does not have a food pantry, so feeding options were limited – until Lieutenants Melvin and Kimberly Harvey opened a meal center there in March. No one, they say, should leave hungry or hopeless.

The Cornbread Cafe serves 80 to 120 people from 1 to 4 p.m. every Thursday. The lieutenants and church members serve every customer a meal, refreshments and dessert.

“We want them to feel welcome,” said Lieutenant Kimberly.

The lieutenants make it a point to remember every customer’s name and serve them with integrity and Southern hospitality.

Many Temple Corps clients are between jobs, lack permanent housing, or struggle with alcohol or drug addiction. Recognizing this vulnerable demographic may also need spiritual care, Lieutenants Harvey accept prayer requests from cafe customers on sign-in.

“Many of the [clients] have gotten off track. I think it’s important for them to know that no matter how you messed up, no matter how you slipped, God still loves you and he has not forgotten about you,” said Lieutenant Kimberly.

Since opening their meal center, the lieutenants have seen an increase in their congregation. Even more so, they are adamant no one is turned away.

One Sunday morning, an intoxicated man came to Temple Corps for worship. He stood by the back door, assuming he would not be welcome in church – until Lieutenant Kimberly invited him to sit. She assured him that despite his condition, he would still receive the word.

“That’s why I fell in love with The Salvation Army. I’ve been to regular churches that will turn people away, but in a Salvation Army church, you come as you are,” she said.