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Pastor and Rabbi team up to bring community together with Duckpin Bowling – CBS Baltimore

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s not what you’d expect to see in the basement of a century-old church: a modernized Duckpin bowling alley with the latest in bowling technology.

Duckpin bowling has a long history here in Baltimore. With a smaller ball and smaller pins, this type of bowling is still great fun.

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After its closure in the 1960s, the bowling alley within the church now has a new lease of life, thanks to Pastor Dr. Terris King of Liberty Grace Church of God and Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg of Congregation Beth Tfiloh.

They worked together to secure funds to renovate floors and install equipment. The renovation of the Liberty Grace Church of God bowling alley in the small Ashburton neighborhood of West Baltimore took nearly three years.

It’s just one of many projects the men have undertaken together, as they work to educate their communities about their shared history. It’s a story that this bowling alley is part of.

“That’s what history tells us,” said Pastor King. “Ashburton was one of the first communities in the country where white people didn’t run when the African Americans came, that bowling alley and that church and that community in Ashburton was really the center of the Jews leading, working with the Afro -Americans in the Baltimore Civil Rights Movement.

“It was once home to the Jewish community, but the younger generation of the Jewish community doesn’t even know it exists,” Rabbi Wohlberg added.

As our community continues to deal with civil rights issues to this day, the pair seek to inspire future generations to continue working together by showing them that they have more in common than they realize.

“Our schools are now building good relationships,” Wohlberg said. “Otherwise our children and her children would never know each other. They would only know each other in black and white. Not as human, not as real.

Although the partnership was a positive experience, it produced some intense moments, opening our eyes to overlooked biases.

Wohlberg described such a moment.

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“One day Terris brought her choir to sing in my congregation. I saw people in tears and when I talked to them afterwards, I said, ‘Why are you in tears?’ And they said, ‘Rabbi, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but up until this point, if you mentioned black teenagers, I’m thinking of a criminal. I don’t think of a beautiful child who goes to church to sing the praises of God. It’s as basic as that.

Now, as the walls crumble, a brighter, intertwined future emerges. Pastor King is now featured on the Beth Tfiloh Centenary timeline as a symbol of the coming together of the two communities.

“It’s part of our history,” Wohlberg said. “But it’s not just part of our history, it’s also part of our future.”

Back at Liberty Grace, they too are planning an exhibit to show their story. It will be painted above a track they chose to leave unfinished.

“We left it in its original state because we want to tell the story,” King said. “To tell the story, you have to see how it was conceived.”

It’s a story that adds to Liberty Grace’s growing list of community resources. A place that already provided food, education and health services now has a space dedicated to family fun.

“It may seem controversial to join Mitchell, but I’m following God’s example and doing the right thing for my people in this congregation and beyond these doors in this community, so I’m humbled. And I believe the best is yet to come,” King said.

It’s unexpected bowling and unexpected friendship that shows what’s possible if we take a little time to get to know each other and maybe play a few games together.

“I don’t know if the Jewish community in Pikesville is going to come back here so they can use the bowling alley,” Wohlberg said. “It moves people’s minds and hearts. It’s not about moving their homes. It’s seeing each other as real and getting to know each other and everything we’ve done together.

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