CMR traces its founding to the 1967 merger of a Presbyterian Church USA congregation and a United Church of Christ congregation. Together they became Rockville United Church with a parish minister and a community minister. The community ministry, named The United Church Center for Community Ministries, included a counseling service for parents and youth and an advocacy program directed toward the city and county governments. The Reverend Al Winham succeeded Reverend Donald Maccallum in 1976. Winham used his past experience in race relations to respond to growing unrest in local high schools and to aid residents of Lincoln Park. He also helped establish Rockville’s first Human Rights Commission.
The Reverend Mansfield “Kasey” Kaseman took over the ministry in 1979 and began to emphasize political advocacy among quality-of-life constituent groups. Kaseman converted the group to a formal nonprofit organization governed by representatives appointed by member congregations. Its first advocacy initiative was to lobby county offices to replenish funding for a substance-abuse program. He also implemented an emergency assistance program to relieve a financial burden on families being cut from welfare roles or being “RIFed” because of employment cuts or reorganization in government or industry. Kaseman persuaded the mayor and city council to promise that no Rockville resident would ever go without basic food, shelter, and health care needs. This led to the creation of the Rockville Emergency Assistance Program (REAP), which helps those without sufficient resources to pay for rent, utility bills, prescriptions, baby formula, and other essential items. Also in 1982, The United Church Center for Community Ministries changed its name to Community Ministries of Rockville and its symbol from a cross to a burning bush.
In 1986, the Elderly Ministries Program was created to address those needs not being met by the Rockville city government. Later that year the Program expanded to provide home health care for the elderly and several years later added a home repair program. CMR was also instrumental in establishing the Rockville Senior Center.
In the mid-1980s, CMR made advocacy for the homeless its new priority. After helping St. Martin’s Roman Catholic Church to open Stepping Stones Shelter for homeless families and Catholic Charities to open Dorothy Day Shelter for women, CMR addressed the need for a men’s shelter when in 1983 a homeless man, Calvin Chase, froze to death on the streets of Rockville. In his memory Chase Partnership House, the first shelter for men in Montgomery County, was established in 1987. With this undertaking, CMR moved from advocacy to direct service. Subsequently, in 1991, CMR established Jefferson House for previously homeless men. Jefferson House was the first Personal Living Quarters Program in Rockville. Later in 2002, CMR operated Hope House, which was actually three additional houses; two serving previously homeless men and one serving previously homeless women. CMR operated Chase Partnership House and Hope Housing until 2011 when the County consolidated management of those programs under new operators.
CMR established the Language Outreach Program in 1993 to provide English as a Second Language classes to adults. The program provides childcare services for small children and homework help for school-aged children while their parents attend English classes. CMR’s most recent program came about because of the interest of a local businessman, Raj Shah, CEO of Capital Technology Information Systems, in funding medical care for the uninsured and underinsured in Rockville. Mr. Shah funded a study and first year operation of what is now known as the Mansfield M. Kaseman Health Program. In collaboration with Mobile Medical Services, it operated 12 hours per week at donated facilities and provided primary care to patients and referred them for follow-up care when needed. In November of 2009, CMR established the Mansfield Kaseman Health Clinic which offers health care and health care education to uninsured adult residents of Montgomery County and homeless women. The Clinic, located in downtown Rockville is open three days a week. Primary care is provided together with the services of three specialists; an endocrinologist, a orthopedic physician and a podiatrist. Referrals are provided for other specialty care as well as prescription assistance.