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A Message from Executive Director, Jim Szakacs

May 9, 2021

Our executive director of 13 years has just gotten an appointment at Hope Ridge United Methodist Church in Concord, Ohio. We wish him the best of luck in his new position, and thank him for his selfless, tireless, and dedicated service to the Nehemiah Mission. 












Nehemiah Mission Opens Its Doors to People Needing Shelter

FEBRUARY 3, 2021


By Pastor Jim Szakacs*

It’s common for the dormitories at The Nehemiah Mission in Cleveland to be a revolving door for short-term mission teams coming and going to and from neighborhoods around the mission site. But that wasn’t the case most of last year – and probably most of this year – due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Through the month of January and the first few days of February 2021, the dorms have remained empty and silent.

So that a good resource doesn’t go unused, the Nehemiah Mission, a Health & Welfare agency of the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church, has partnered with the Metanoia Project to become a temporary sheltering facility for people in need.

The Metanoia Project is a 501(c)3 that is focused on forming authentic relationships with men and women who are un-sheltered by responding personally and creatively to fill a gap in the social service structure. The organization provides multiple programs to help the most vulnerable, who often find themselves underserved and living under bridges, and in alleys and parks. The team at Metanoia Project has formed creative ways to provide hot meals, showers, clothing, and hygiene products as well as overnight sheltering.

We have worked with Metanoia at various levels in the past and have desired to help with emergency sheltering. In past years however, with our dorms in use for short-term teams, we were unable to offer them. If there can be serendipity in COVID, this would be it. We are pleased to welcome up to 15 guests each evening through the cold weather months, providing overnight shelter and co-hosting with Metanoia.

Metanoia Project Executive Director Heidi Goblirsch is pleased that our organizations are partnering to assist residents of our neighborhoods.

“Allowing us to serve our most vulnerable community members at The Nehemiah Mission has been a blessing for us this season. It has allowed us a safe place for people to seek shelter out of the cold, get a meal, connect with others, and seek help. We are able to have conversations and seek out their goals. Many would be left on the streets unable to find the help they so desperately need. When you add into the mix of COVID it becomes even harder for everyone to find a place to stay safe and without the help from Nehemiah Mission many of the connections would be lost,” she said.

*Pastor Jim Szakacs is a full-time licensed local pastor in the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church currently serving in extension ministry as the director of the Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland.


Hollywood Comes to the East Ohio Conference; Scenes of a Newly Released Movie Were Shot at the Nehemiah Mission

FEBRUARY 4, 2021


By Rick Wolcott*

On October 8, 2019, with a film crew setting up in its front yard and movie extras filling its worship area the Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland looked like the center of the Hollywood universe. East Ohio Conference Communications was granted access to the movie shoot as long as we agreed to not publish our story or photos until after the movie was released.

Since 2003, the Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland, located in the former People’s Hope United Methodist Church building, has been transforming the community. But on this sunny autumn day it was director Robert Lorenz who brought change to the neighborhood. For his movie The Marksman the corner of W. 65th Street & Bridge Avenue was renamed W. 18th Street & S. Allport Street, and the building housing the Mission, which is an Advance Special of the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church, was turned into St. Percy’s Church.


Onlookers, being kept away by security, strained to see around the semi-trailers full of gear, and past the camera crews, lights, makeup artists, and extras in the hopes that they could get a glimpse of the movie’s star – a box office action hero known for his “special set of skills.”

“I got a call from the locations guy saying they were filming a movie here and they were going to be on our corner, and they needed a place to feed the cast and crew and in the midst of the call he said, ‘we’re going to be shooting from across the street so your yard will be in the movie,’” Pastor Jim Szakacs, the director of Nehemiah Mission, told me as we stood “on set” while the scene and the camera rig were being reset for the next take.

Location manager David Rumble explained that the movie is set in a very specific Chicago neighborhood so, they needed to shoot in a place that could stand in for the Windy City.

“We’re basically shooting in four areas here. You’ll see the front of the church (the Nehemiah Mission), the exteriors of the store and the house across the street, and we’re shooting inside of the house. This neighborhood fits a number of different needs for our movie.”

The Marksman tells the story of retired U.S. Marine Jim Hanson, who is now a rancher on the Arizona border. He becomes the unlikely defender of a young boy fleeing Mexico who is being chased by the drug cartel assassins who murdered his mother. Hanson is portrayed in the movie by Liam Neeson, well-known for his starring role in the Taken movies, and other action/thriller films. Relative newcomer Jacob Perez plays the young boy, Miguel.

“I was excited to see that we were shooting at one of our United Methodist mission sites but it’s too bad it won’t have The United Methodist Church name in the movie,” said Willa Sandra Prewitt, a member of Church of the Saviour UMC in Cleveland Heights, who was cast as an extra in the movie.

Szakacs explained, “Because the movie is set in a very specific Chicago neighborhood that is highly Hispanic the producers thought that it was more appropriate to have a church named Saint Something in the background, so our United Methodist Nehemiah Mission became a Catholic church for the movie.”

“I think this is fantastic. It’s a great opportunity for The United Methodist Church, even though it doesn’t say United Methodist on the building for the movie. All press is good, and local news stations are covering the shoot. People in the community know about the ministry. So, it’s neat,” said Craig Cowles of Rocky River UMC who is the manager of the church’s Twice Blessed Store that is housed inside the Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland building.

Cleveland was just one of the locations that stand in for Chicago, Arizona, and Mexico in the movie. The film was partially shot in Cuyahoga, Lorain, Portage, and Geauga counties in Ohio and also in New Mexico – all of which kept Rumble busy.

“On a location I’m in charge of wherever we shoot, wherever we eat, where we go to the bathroom, and security, police, road closures, fire departments, and logistics. My job is to make sure people just show up for work and everything has been figured out for them in advance,” he said.

On this movie he was working for director Robert Lorenz, who has been nominated for Best Picture three times as a producer and has been first assistant director several times on Clint Eastwood-directed films. He made his directorial debut in 2012 with Trouble with the Curve, which starred Eastwood and Amy Adams.

For the shoot outside the Nehemiah Mission, the front yard was turned into a community bake sale, with Prewitt playing one of the persons behind the table.


“We’re supposed to be very lively and happy because the little boy that’s coming through the neighborhood hasn’t seen many happy people or scenes since he’s been on his way from Mexico because everything has been very harrowing and disturbing for him,” she said. “They’re shooting from across the street showing what the little boy is looking at as he walks with the man that Liam Neeson plays. Unfortunately, they’re not coming over to our side of the street.”

“This all happened so fast,” Szakacs shared. “I just got the call last week, and now look at it. It’s pretty cool.”

Editor’s Note: The movie industry has taken a severe financial hit since the COVID-19 pandemic began six months after shooting wrapped on The Marksman. With the majority of movie theaters across the country and around the world closed because of the pandemic, many studios have delayed releasing their new movies or have made them available for viewing on streaming services, but The Marksman opened in theaters on January 15. It was the number one movie in America for two weeks before falling to fourth last weekend.

*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.



June 26, 2019 - We are excited to announce that our group tuition rates have changed! Due to some great new partnerships and new operational strategies we are announcing a REDUCTION in our pricing. Effective immediately our pricing for 2020 summer team registrations has been reduced to $329.00 per person. This is a $46.00 reduction from 2018-19 tuition! Further, our off- season custom stay rate is now just $38.00 per person per night with NO group supply fee. New this year… There is no charge for clergy group leaders that accompany a team. Give us a call for more details or visit the Groups information/registration pages on this site.


Covid19 Response: Updated May 29, 2020

Dear Friends;

On March 11 of this year we made the difficult decision to suspend our programming due to the COVID 19 Virus. Within a few days it became apparent that we would also need to suspend our regular summer program. During the past several weeks we have remained in touch with many of the families that we interact with and have continued to provide services in the form of clothing, food etc. where appropriate. ButterPear, while not a program of the mission but a unique partner of the mission has been sewing face masks and at last count provided over 1800 masks for sale, with the proceeds benefitting the African refugee community in Cleveland and mission stations in West Africa.

Today I am announcing that we will begin a gradual re-opening our ministries on June 9 with the re-start of Bread on Bridge Tuesdays (BOB . While BOB will look a little different than what we are accustomed too, we are looking forward to reuniting with our BOB community. Manna for Men will restart on Friday, June 12 and a limited version of #Corner65 will restart on June 15. We have made a “Day Trip” program available to local groups interested in serving the city this summer. Please email us: or call: 216-9671-6968 ext 10 to plan your visit.

Boy Scout Troop 515 and The Twice Blessed Free Store a ministry of Rocky River UMC, have not announced restart dates as of this writing. Please refer directly to those agencies for updates.

We are appreciative of all the ways you have continue to support us during this time and look forward to seeing you at the mission soon.


Pastor, James F Szakacs, Executive Director


See the latest video about The Nehemiah Mission! (February 2020)


Check us out on WKYC TV 3 in Cleveland! (January 2020)

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