Manna Christian Cultural Center will hold first observances March 28.

Black, brown or white, rich, middle class or poor, fervent believers or someone burdened by doubt, all are welcome at Dover’s Manna Christian Cultural Center.

The center is a newly established ministry, pastored by the Rev. Leandra Casson, who will hold her first service Sunday, March 28.

Those wondering about the church will find a loving, praying house of worship, dedicated to spreading the gospel via word and deed, Casson said.

“We all serve,” Casson said. “My goal is to have a multicultural, multiracial, nondenominational church, all pointed in the direction of Jesus Christ.”

Born and raised in Dover — she is a 1986 graduate of Dover High School — Casson is an assistant professor of history and political science at Delaware State University, and has a background in Russian and Chinese studies. She speaks both languages, has attended schools in Russia, the United Kingdom and the Republic of China, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University.

She’s also a recipient of the United Kingdom’s Chevening Scholarship, which allowed her to study in that country.

Casson undertook her theological studies in Georgia and Delaware and has received her teaching certificate in Biblical studies.

So why, after all that study and travel, did she elect to return to Dover?

“My home is in Delaware, and I wanted to start my ministry among the people I love,” Casson said. Her family, including daughters Giovanni and Mashiah, plus her fiancé, live in Dover as well, she said.

Ordained by Dr. Richard Avant’s Calvary Baptist Church, and having served in other churches, Casson felt the time had come to strike out on her own.

The Manna Christian Center will be an evangelistic ministry, with emphasis on all races and cultures.

“When I think of Jesus Christ, I think of a liberating gospel,” she said. “I think of a gospel that needs to be preached to the world, to all ethnicities. I want to proclaim it to all who will listen.

“That’s what grounds me, that’s what I’m rooted in.”

As part of her effort, Casson plans sessions where she’ll talk about historic figures and the roles they played in establishing social justice.

“I’ll talk about how Jesus would have helped feed the poor or help those without shelter,” Casson said. “He said that when you help these people, it’s as if you’ve done it for him.

“It’s a social gospel, and my whole life has embraced that kind of mission.”

Currently, the center has approximately 50 members, many drawn from Delaware State University. She’s looking for young people to take part in her ministry, to include single mothers and young families.

In addition to Sunday services, she already has set up a Tuesday Bible study session and a Wednesday service featuring guest ministers from other churches in the Dover area.

So what does her future hold?

Casson knows there’s only one way to find out.

“This is my first time pastoring on my own,” she said. “But God has called me to do this, so I’m happy I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll just go and do what I know I’m supposed to do.

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