We invite you to learn about our team below


Pastor Jim Szakacs

Executive Director


Ms. Becky Trout

Program Services Manager

Shelia Furguson



Ben Weisbrod

Program Assistant

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Our Story

What is the Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland? How did it get started? How can I get connected? What are they doing now?

The Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland is a program of the North Coast District of the United Methodist Church.

The Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland believes that service is a spiritual gift by God’s direction.  We believe that we are blessed by our ability to serve and empower others to serve.  We strive to be the hands of God.  In every job, it is the same spirit that enriches us and leads each brush stroke, each meal served, each porch rebuilt, and each life changed.

 To learn more about the North Coast District, please visit http://northcoastdistrictumc.org/

To learn more about the East Ohio Conference, please visit http://www.eocumc.com/

To learn more about the United Methodist Church, please visit http://www.umc.org/

The Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland rebuilds lives and homes of the physically and fiscally challenged in order to sow seeds of hope.


The First Five Years

2003- 2008

It was in the Cleveland District Offices of the United Methodist Church that the Rev. Dan Drew, District Superintendent and District Associate for Missions Dr. Jan Yandell began sharing their mutual grief over the loss of mission minded congregations. Each had taken many mission trips and developed youth work mission teams that continued to be in service around the United States and beyond.

It was in the midst of that discussion that Rev. Drew looked out the window and saw the city of Cleveland below and stated, “There is so much work to be done here in the city, we should start a work mission center here and have teams come to Cleveland.”  Rev. Yandell agreed.  “Where would we have them stay?” he asked.  The answer was ready even before the question was asked.  It was as if the Holy Spirit had entered that room and was working through both of them to create what had been so desperately needed in the City of Cleveland for a very long time.

Jan Yandell had been the ¼ time pastor of People’s Hope United Methodist Church for the past year.  The Cleveland District served the 400,000 people of Cleveland of which 20 were attendees at People’s Hope.  It was the poorest church in the district with one of the largest buildings. The twenty people who attended were all very needy: physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually.  They needed more than a pastor they needed a purpose.  Yandell believed that God had appointed her to create that purpose for them and a mission for the people of Cleveland.  She told Dan Drew,  “We will house them at People’s Hope.”  Thus, it began.


2007 - 2018

By autumn of 2007 The Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland had served over 2500 persons in the greater Cleveland Area. Work teams from as far away as Elmsett, England and numbering over 5000 have built wheel chair ramps, restored porches, repaired roofs, painted homes inside and out, repaired plumbing, electrical, & heating. They had served countless meals to the poor and taught vacation bible school classes, all under the leadership of its founder; the Rev. Dr. Jan Yandell.

The summer of 2007 brought change. In the United Methodist tradition, pastors are appointed on an itinerate system. So in June of that year, Dr. Yandell was appointed to a new parish. With her re-assignment came the end of her tenure as the mission’s director. Though the mission was firmly established, People’s Hope church was no longer able to maintain the building and serve a local congregation. Consequently, on December 31, 2007 the church was closed.

Despite the closing of the church and the departure of Dr.Yandell the United Methodist Church renewed its commitment not only to The Nehemiah Mission, but also to the neighborhood in which it resides.

A search committee was formed to identify a new Executive Director for the mission. On March 1, 2008 the committee selected Jim Szakacs as the mission’s second director, and the entire church building was now under the management and operation of The Nehemiah Mission.

The mission now houses four dormitories (capacity for 50 overnight guests) and supporting restroom/shower facilities, a full dining hall with a commercial kitchen, a lounge area, sanctuary, gymnasium, game room, and project room.

The mission operates year round as a mission-team housing center, retreat center and worship space.

As of December 2018, the mission has hosted over 14,000 volunteers and completed over 1,400 service projects in the inner city and inner ring suburbs.


In response to the changing neighborhood in which we exist and the dynamic changes occurring within our denomination (as well as all other denominations) A new strategic plan was adopted in 2018 that focuses on the development of partnerships between public and private agencies including but not limited to churches, businesses, families, individuals, and global partnerships. We believe that collaboration and strategic partnerships are fundamental to improving impact.

We are constantly reviewing all of our logistical processes, group tuitions, programing, and relationships with our partners to insure that we are stewarding the gifts and resources that the Lord has provided for us well.


If you are interested in learning how you can partner with the Mission we encourage you to visit our partners page to learn how you can start making an impact in your community today.


“Ministry happens in the interruptions”


Nehemiah Partners

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:18-20

The new approach to mission partnerships emphasizes forming relationships throughout the community.  We then provide volunteers as available to assist in the services of our partners. Where appropriate partners may provide funding to the mission or in-kind donations and volunteers to aid in our outreach.


Want to Become a Partner?


Mission Partners

Nehemiah has been wonderful at engaging our young adults in various clean-up, refurbishing, and construction projects through the years. The students and chaperones enjoy working with the mission staff...thank you, Nehemiah for your beautiful outreach.
— Jeff Zulllo, S.I.T.E.S, Program Director