Federal programs and agencies in the Washington, D.C. area mushroomed in size and scope during the 1960’s, fueling population growth in nearby Bowie. Responding to the growth, developer Levitt and Sons' planned community in Bowie flourished. Christian Community Presbyterian Church (CCPC) at 3120 Belair Drive was the first protestant church in the new Levitt part of Bowie and was officially organized on April 1, 1962.
As organizing pastor of CCPC in late 1961, Dewey Dodds brought an amazing dynamism to his work just as droves of families began moving in. By 1963, CCPC was the fastest growing Presbyterian church in the nation. Early on, the congregation met in homes and schools until the fellowship hall was completed. Soon the young congregation dedicated an education building, followed by the sanctuary’s construction and dedication in 1994.
From its inception, CCPC members’ passion for mission has been a driving force. During the 1970s, under the pastoral leadership of Richard (Dick) Neff, the Bowie Therapeutic Nursery was established at CCPC and the Prince George’s Community Ministry began. CCPC opened a Senior Services Center and also provided emergency housing. The Food Pantry began in the early 1970s when a hungry person came to the church searching for food. In discussion with the Clergy Council, CCPC established a food pantry and Emergency Aid Fund, and by 2009 the same Interfaith Food Pantry had distributed nearly a quarter of a million dollars in food as a non-profit agency housed at CCPC.
Pastor Rex McDaniel led CCPC as its first group of youth attended work camp in the 1980s, beginning a summer tradition of youth and adults building homes with Habitat for Humanity and Hosanna Industries. CCPC was one of the first Prince George’s County churches to participate in Warm Nights, a program providing shelter and food during the winter months for adults and children who are homeless, and an emergency apartment was created on campus. During the 1990s, CCPC began a tradition of Christmas sharing by providing food, presents, and school supplies to community families in need. By 2011, the Christmas Families project had grown to 91 families representing 264 children, almost double the number of the previous year.
Reverend James Brassard, who came to CCPC in 2004, has led the church to expand its mission focus to include the gift of clean water. The CCPC Living Waters for the World team teaches classes about health and hygiene and installed water purification systems in Honduras, with additional trips planned. An Alternative Christmas Gift Market, which supports mission projects around the world, raised more than $30,000 in three years.
In addition to the robust local and world mission focus, CCPC is known for inspiring worship services and wonderful music, as well as fellowship and ministries for a diverse membership of adults, children, youth, and families.
CCPC celebrated its Golden Anniversary in 2012.
Reflections of the Service of Organization of Christian Community Presbyterian Church
James Brassard (1956-2020)
Rev. James Brassard retired from CCPC -- and from ministry – on May 31, 2020. James has been a dynamic and passionate leader during his time at CCPC and we have been very lucky to have him.
When the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) that was responsible for bringing James Brassard to CCPC first learned of James’ existence more than 16 year ago, one particular video of James immediately stood out. In that video James rode a donkey into the church on Palm Sunday. The lengths that he was willing to go to bring the story of Jesus to life was so fresh, fun, and real.The PNC reviewed countless resumes and watched many sermon videos. James instantly stood out. They invited both James and Andrea for a visit. They watched as he delivered a sermon at a church in Laurel and they were hooked! The PNC took James and Andrea to lunch and had a wonderful time getting to know them both. They knew then and there that they wanted to invite them to Bowie.
James also has a real depth of character – one that is rooted in his faith. He is a serious man who does not take himself too seriously. And, he can change with the times as he showed when CCPC began offering a contemporary service three-years ago and James embraced it.
It was a sad time when Reverend James Brassard's ill health precipitated his retirement in May 2020. A stage IV malignant brain tumor (glioblastoma) took him from CCPC again. He died peacefully at home on November 4, 2020. He had served CCPC faithfully, to the end.
December 9, 1956 — November 4, 2020
Rev. James Dewart Brassard, 63, passed away at his home on November 4. James was born to Rev. LaVern and Mary Brassard on December 9, 1956 in Connell, Washington, and spent his boyhood in Vancouver, WA. He graduated from Whitworth College in 1979 and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1984. In 1994, he married the love of his life, Andrea Belanus, in Wayne, NJ.
James held pastorates in Slippery Rock, PA, Wayne, NJ, and was senior pastor of Christian Community Presbyterian Church (CCPC) in Bowie, MD, from July 2004 to May 2020. James’ ministry was marked by his many acts of service to his church, community, and region. His unbridled and contagious enthusiasm helped support mission trips to install clean water systems in Honduras, annual building weeks for Habitat for Humanity and others, Warm Nights shelter weeks, and other community service-oriented projects. He was a hands-on pastor, taking seriously the call to feed the hungry, welcome strangers, provide clothing, visit prisoners, and heal and comfort the sick.