On Being Church - a blog

contributed by Marietta Wynands

The wise teacher of the book of Proverbs noted that “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (16:9). Those of us who have a life-long association with church have witnessed many changes over the years. Plans, whether designed by a Director, a Superintendent, or a Church Education Committee, have come and gone. Based on some of the book titles in my office, such as “You Can Increase Sunday School Attendance” and “77 Ways to Energize Your Sunday School Class,” there has long been the desire to educate effectively in the church. We humans plan our course, and pray that the Lord will establish the path.

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Saturday is going to be a big day at West Raleigh. First, there is MARCH MISSION MADDNES. Around seventy people are expected to participate in this day of service. It all starts with a light breakfast and commissioning prayer at 9am; then we fan out all over the city, some staying to work in the BeeLoved Community Garden and clean the church nursery or spend the morning in prayer, while others work at Habitat for Humanity, A Place at the Table, Family Promise, and hopefully (City of Raleigh permits willing), help Davie Street Presbyterian Church move back into their building. Then, after a morning of service, we will gather back at West Raleigh for lunch (Spoiler Alert: Johnny Flowe is cooking up pulled pork tacos with fancy slaw for lunch!). This is a morning for everyone – young and old, of all manner and variety of ability – to pray, to serve and to be nourished by the knowledge that we can do so much more together than any of us can do on our own. Sign up here.

But, friends, keep reading because that is not all that is happening on Saturday. After years of patient waiting and persistent prodding, the tower crane that has been swinging over the block, unused for more than three years will be dismantled and trucked away this weekend. The process will begin on Friday with the arrival of technicians who will inspect and prepare the crane for removal; then on Saturday, an assist crane will arrive on Hillsborough Street to dismantle the tower crane piece-by-piece. Businesses on Hillsborough Street, from the corner of Horne to Target will be closed as will one lane of traffic; and there will not be street parking around much of the block so that the many trucks can turn the corners as they haul away the crane. All of the work will take place over the businesses between the alley and Hillsborough Street, and technicians from Morrow Crane and the company they have contracted for this crane’s removal have assured West Raleigh that there is no need to change our plans on Saturday or Sunday. Fairmont United Methodist has also offered use of their parking lot on Saturday (as long as we are out by 1pm). So, we are all set, for a day of March Mission and Crane Removal Madness. You definitely, don’t want to miss it. I will see you there!

Keep the faith,


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I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me. – Terence

These words are lines from a play written by the ancient playwright, Publius Terentius Afer (c. 195/185 – c. 159? BC). Terrence, as he is more commonly known in English, was a Roman playwright of Berber descent who was taken to Rome as a slave. The first time I heard this line was in Maya Angelou’s humanities class when I was a senior in college at Wake Forest University, where she was a professor for many years. Terrence’s words, spoken in Angelou’s deep, resonating voice never left me.

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written by Kathy Huffstetler


February is Black History Month, and I imagine most of us would like to see this interest in black history extend throughout the year. The longer I live the more I realize there is so much I do not know that has taken place right under my nose. I think it would be fair to say that much black history hasn’t made our history books, but I think some of this can be rectified as our communities endeavor to right wrongs, begin digging into our past and unearthing new information, and providing more accuracy to what has been the narrative. Outlined below are two projects that are currently engaged in the fight to fill in our history.

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How to Listen to a Sermon

By Clement W. Welsh

How does one listen to a sermon? Even in this age of the laity the subject seems strangely neglected. So we venture to pass on a few suggestions that we hope may be helpful.



  1. Attend Church – Not as self-evident as it may seem. Sermons, unlike TV spectaculars, are Always on Sunday. “Dropping in to hear a preacher” can be stimulating, but it takes repetition to know a preacher and to be able to read between the lines of his human discourse to find God’s word. It takes the service itself, known by heart, to set instantly the framework for the sermon. Even the Opening Sentences begin to alert and prepare the sermon-listener for a discourse directed to those who live in God’s world. Write comment (0 Comments)

This past Saturday 30-40 of us gathered together in a still unfurnished living room in the Crosstowne neighborhood of southeast Raleigh. Some of us were Presbyterian, some Methodist, others Catholic, Baptist, or non-denominational, some Muslim. Some of us were native North Carolinians and spoke fluent Southern. Others were from Morocco and struggled with English. We were all there because we believe, in Katherine's words, that "building the beloved community is not a metaphor. It takes shape in neighborhoods and communities and around kitchen tables."

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