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Making the Rock Even More Solid

Baltimore inner-city ministry expands by planting a church.

For three decades, Ed DiBlasio has operated a parachurch ministry in low-income areas of Baltimore that features mentoring, food giveaways, sidewalk Sunday Schools, clothing distribution, and Bible studies.

Increasingly over the years, beneficiaries of DiBlasio’s nonprofit Solid Rock Ministries have asked DiBlasio the location of his nonexistent church.

“People have a desire to go to some place for formal worship,” says DiBlasio. “I’ve steered away from it, but now I realize there is a legitimate need.”

Subsequently, at 54, DiBlasio and his wife, Gloria, acceded to recruitment by the Fellowship to plant a church, to be known as Solid Rock and Redeemer Assembly of God. Central Christian Assembly in Baltimore will have oversight. Ed DiBlasio has attended the 34-year-old church for 32 years.

Ministry, particularly inner-city ministry, is rife for burnout. DiBlasio repeatedly heard lessons about the need to delegate at a regional AG Church Multiplication Network  training event in March.

The DiBlasios, married since 2009, have learned to take time for the Lord and for each other.

“This ministry is not our identity,” Ed says

“We will tell each other when we need to rest,” Gloria adds. “Although the area needs redemption, we’re not going to work 100 hours a week; we will do it in a balanced way.”

Solid Rock and Redeemer AG will be a missions-type church in the city, reaching especially African-Americans, single parents, and youth. The area is plagued by illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, gang violence, low school graduation levels, and high incarceration rates.

DiBlasio knows the plight well, growing up in a large Baltimore family that used food stamps. The last of eight children, including seven brothers, he recalls wearing hand-me-down clothes while living in a housing project area, and how his mother cried when she received a food basket every Christmas. Distributing groceries and turkeys at Christmas has been a Solid Rock Ministries tradition for 32 years.

A life-changing event occurred for DiBlasio at age 13, when a church for which he performed odd jobs gave him a new bicycle — one of the few new possessions he ever had during adolescence. DiBlasio went on to emerge from poverty, working his way through school to get an accounting degree, a certified public accounting license, and a master’s degree.

DiBlasio and his wife could be living a more comfortable lifestyle. Ed forsook a potentially lucrative CPA career; Gloria has a double master’s in education and a law degree.

“He hasn’t let up,” says Terry V. Kirk, founding pastor of Central Christian Assembly. “His passion for the city and for the kids moved him into ministry full time.”

Central Christian Assembly, a congregation of 1,180 weekly attendees located in a predominantly white neighborhood 10 miles away, has been a major financial backer of Solid Rock Ministries for more than three decades, starting with a bus ministry that transported youth to church services in 1986.

“Ed and Gloria are a perfect match,” says Kirk, 70. “Gloria has as much commitment to the ministry as Ed has.”

DiBlasio has been such a fixture in the neighborhood where he ministers for so long he isn’t viewed as an outsider.

“When you form a relationship with people, they see beyond skin color,” says Gloria, a former schoolteacher.

Gloria experienced life as a single mom for 16 years, after her first husband died of leukemia and left her at age 29 with two girls, ages 6 and 2. Those adult daughters, Mollie Chin and Monica Amtower-Kollig, now are an integral part of the ministry.

“I know why single moms try to drink the stress away at 1 in the afternoon,” Gloria says.

Solid Rock Ministries impacts an average of 250 kids each week, through mentoring, tutoring, worship services, Scripture memory, field trips, and special events. When not engaged in ministry, Ed sustains himself by working as comptroller and estimator for a roofing company owned by a friend who attends Central Christian Assembly.

Among its other roles, Solid Rock collaborates with other ministries to supply groceries to the hungry, job training for the unemployed, yard mowing for the elderly, and toys for children at Christmas. A ministry house, donated by a Central Christian Assembly businessman, serves as a repository for donated furniture, linens, and clothing, plus doubles as sleeping accommodations for teams that come in throughout the year to help with the street ministry.

Neal Carter, 29, credits DiBlasio with helping to turn his life around. Carter, while homeless and 16 years old, says DiBlasio mentored him and took him to church. By 19, Carter started mentoring young teenagers himself through Solid Rock Ministries. Because of DiBlasio, Carter met his wife, Lichelle, who danced and perform drama as part of the sidewalk Sunday School. DiBlasio performed the couple’s 2009 wedding ceremony.

“Pastor Ed was the father figure so many of us young men longed for and needed,” says Carter, who lives in Ellicott City, Maryland. “He modeled his life, and is the key to who I am today. When I was wrong, he had the guts to tell me, and steer me in the right direction.”

With two of his brothers, Carter runs a Christian dance company ministry called Three Kings, which sponsors competitions and youth events. He continues to assist Solid Rock Ministries.

“Pastor Ed lives out what he preached to us,” Carter says. “He led Bible studies, took us to church, phoned to check up on us. Once you know someone cares for you and prays for you and invests their time in you, it can turn you around.”

John W. Kennedy

John W. Kennedy served as news editor of AG News from its inception in 2014 until retiring in 2023. He previously spent 15 years as news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and seven years as news editor at Christianity Today.