BALTIMORE — Reverend John Lunn has been hailed as a multi-faceted educator with the unique ability to teach on many different levels, a trait that has helped earns him a stellar reputation among the faithful as well as his peers in the ministry.
The pastor of the Berean Baptist Church in the Park Heights community of Baltimore, Lunn says that he and others are facing an uphill battle in trying to continue to educate a community that has often been neglected.
“The entire neighborhood has changed for the worse,” said Lunn, who has served as a pastor for 37 years. “Back in the day, we had a caring community who were actively involved with the young people.”
Now, the primary goal is to try and reinvigorate Park Heights, one of the many concerns expressed at a recent Baptist Ministers Conference attended by Lunn.
“There are no major supermarkets, no movie theaters in the area and no resources,” he said. “At one time there was a car dealership and other things that have been replaced by vacant houses and buildings. This used to be a vibrant area.”
Lunn and several other ministers who attended the conference say that it’s time for a change, and among the items on the conference’s agenda is to ensure that those who preach are not themselves getting discouraged.
“We have to make sure that the preachers are being preached to as well,” Lunn said. “That’s important. We want to be the voice of our community and we want to be heard also in the city, state and around the nation if it calls for it.”
A graduate of Morgan State University, Lunn also earned a master’s degree in education from Coppin State University, a master’s in theology from St. Mary’s Seminary and University, and a doctorate in ministry from Howard University.
Many churches, including some as far as the Bahamas, have reached out to Lunn for his expertise as a seminary and workshop leader.
A married father of five, Lunn recalls being a young man whose parents instilled in him the love for the church. “I had a strong black mother who loved the church. Her love for the church was amazing,” he said. “She didn’t make me go to church, but as a young person, you just couldn’t stay in her house and not go to church.”
While devoting much of his time to Berean and the local community, Lunn currently serves on the academic staff of St. Mary’s Seminary and University and is the dean of the United Baptist College and Seminary in Baltimore.
“Our mission is to bring the vital life of spirituality to Park Heights,” Lunn said. “I have seen several changes and the devastation of the community. Now, I’m looking for a renaissance.”
Lunn says that many of the residents in Park Heights have expressed a similar desire and there are quite a few willing to work to help make a change.
“I think there is a 70/30 situation in our community,” Lunn said. “I believe that 70 percent of the people here in Park Heights are willing to do the things that are needed to make the community a better place and, I believe, that there is still 30 percent who just don’t care.”