In January 1989, as crack cocaine fueled gang violence began to sweep the inner city streets of Boston and other major U.S. cities, two Harvard and Tufts trained physicians started a church in a nursing home in Mattapan. Within 6 months they had outgrown their space and moved into a neighborhood community center and just three years later moved onto the Jamaica Plain campus of Parkside Christian Academy which would be their home for the next 17 years.
Three years after the start up Bethel A.M.E. Church was born, it and its inspirational co-pastor Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond were thrust into the mix of gang violence when, in response to the stabbing of a youth at a funeral for another gang member, they co-founded a movement which Newsweek magazine would later refer to as The Boston Miracle (cover story dated June 1, 1998).
Ray and his wife, Gloria White-Hammond, started a church community with a mission to “make a difference in Boston, throughout America and around the world by addressing the needs of the hungry, naked, sick or imprisoned whether they be troubled in mind, body or spirit.” 25 years later that community, in collaboration with public and nonprofit educational, community, governmental and interfaith partners, has initiated more than 20 programs that annually serve around 2300 people in greater Boston and over 4,000 globally.