Category Archives: New Hanover County churches

House of Mercy grows; looks to become a community center

House of Mercy volunteers pray with a guest. Photo courtesy of Global River Church.

Andy Lee

By Blogger Andy Lee
Walk the Talk

Global River Church’s entire ministry is based on Ezekiel 47. In this chapter, the prophet describes a river flowing from the threshold of the temple of God. Ezekiel experiences the water deepening into a river that flows into the Dead Sea, instantly purifying the sea into fresh water where fish can swim and live. Everything that touches the flowing water thrives. Trees line the border of the river, and the trees contain healing in their leaves.

This is the vision that constitutes GRC’s mission to bring healing, both physical and spiritual to those in need. One way the church fulfills this mission is through its House of Mercy. They not only give monetary assistance, they also pray for physical and emotional healing, and they have witnessed miracles.

When I interviewed Pastor Michael Satorre, the pastor of GRC’s benevolence ministry, I was struck by Satorre’s humility and gentle spirit. He is a man who has given his life to service for others and the God he believes in. But the House of Mercy did not start with Satorre. In fact, he never planned to be a pastor.

A former pastor named David Green and another member of the church, Annie Shaw, started House of Mercy. His experience of living in poverty as a child made him passionate about helping people.  They counseled and assisted those in need the best they could with a small monthly budget of $500.

Not long after Green started this ministry, he died of a heart attack. His funeral was filled with people from all walks of life who shared testimonies of how Pastor Green had helped them. They told stories of him buying groceries for their families, giving away air conditioners, and bringing Christmas presents to children. The testimony of his generous heart made an impact on the leadership of the church who knew this ministry must continue.

Since his death, Green’s ministry has more than tripled in size. It has a much greater budget, more volunteers and serves a wider demographic. People from three surrounding counties come to House of Mercy for assistance.

The House of Mercy’s doors are open 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Fridays. It is

House of Mercy volunteers work with guests. Photo courtesy of Global River Church.

located in the Global River administration building behind the church. Participants can call ahead to schedule an appointment, but appointments are not necessary. Volunteers are available to counsel and pray with each client, and participants are provided a $20 Food Lion card and other assistance if needed.

Beyond their Friday ministry, the House of Mercy also prepares for hurricanes and disaster situations with its House of Mercy Response Team. The team stores enough canned goods and other non-perishable food to feed at least 250 people three meals a day for two weeks.

The House of Mercy also plans to start an after school feeding outreach that would involve traveling to different schools around the city to feed children who don’t get a meal when they go home.  For many of us, it is hard to believe there are children in our city who have no food at home. But this is the reality.

The program is modeled on the St. Louis Dream Center in Missouri.

“I see in the future of Wilmington a Dream Center, a place where broken families and single moms and just broken people can come and receive the love of Jesus without condemnation or judgment,” Satorre wrote in an email. “A place where they can receive healing and encouragement and especially hope. A place where they can receive medical, financial, spiritual help and shelter for homeless families, abused children and individuals.”

Sounds like a village of hope to me.

For more information contact Pastor Michael Satorre at 910-392-2899, ext. 103 or email him at mercy@globalriverchurch.com.

Advertisements

BRIEF: Lifepoint Church celebrates its grand opening this Sunday

Lifepoint Church has been busy converting a former furniture store space off South College Road into its first permanent worship space.

The church will hold a grand opening celebration of its 30,000 square foot building 9-11:15 a.m. Sunday (April 15) at 3534 S. College Road (right next to Food Lion).

The grand opening will include firetrucks, inflatables, free Rita’s ice cream and free hot dogs.

Details: 910-794-3100.

– Amanda Greene

VIEWPOINTS: Why do you think the church is losing young adults?

By AMANDA GREENE
WilmingtonFAVS.com

This week’s Viewpoints question had many of our writers really buzzing.

Why do you think the church is losing young adults?

A 2007 Lifeway Research poll found that about 70 percent of youth leave the church of their childhood after high school. About 35 percent of church dropouts said they resumed church attendance by age 30.

Some political analysts are pointing to a ‘God gap; with young people feeling alienated by politicians who incorporate their belief systems into ideas about policy.

Here is what WilmingtonFAVS’ writers had to say.

Victoria Rouch

Victoria Rouch

I blame arrogance and the incursion of religion into politics for driving young people away from churches. Religion should be – first and foremost – about strengthening their fellowship’s link with the Divine. In the past, churches were seen as places where those in need of guidance could gather for support in their spiritual walk. There they were encouraged and uplifted. The churches’ role in the community facilitated this; by encouraging the fellowship’s reaching out to the community, it encouraged charity and love. By being helped and uplifted during spiritual crisis, members learned the value of being part of a supportive community of like-minded believers.

But today, Christian churches seem to have turned away from providing spiritual support to becoming moral scolds. They’ve become huge, both in scope and in arrogance. Megachurches transmit three services a Sunday on theater screens. Preachers like Pat Robertson who have reached celebrity preacher status use their popularity to raise money from people often hard-pressed to send in the donations they’re asked to give. The popularity of these preachers has led too many of them to get into politics and seek to influence political races.

Young people at uncertain places in their lives may no longer see churches as a refuge or a place they can go for supportive environment of spiritual growth. Part of Jesus’ appeal to his followers – and to so many young people – was that he was a bit of a rebel. By loving the sick and needy and rebuking the Pharisees, he bucked the system of his day. Today, so many churches don’t buck the system but are part of it. That’s bound to make anyone cynical, especially young people.

David Scott

David Scott

I have a daughter, age 23, who like me, was raised as a liberal Christian. It has been very revealing to watch her religious evolution. As she grew older, we watched her belief system mature from one base on naiveté into critical thinking on her own. She began to observe the hypocrisy in the organized church and the requirement to accept blind faith instead of scientific and verifiable facts on which to base life’s decisions. She, like me, became more and more appalled at American Christianity’s silence when it came to social issues and our country’s addiction to perpetual war. And, not to become partisan, the church’s alignment with the hate-filled theology of neo-conservatism sealed the deal for my daughter and me. I believe in Christ’s philosophy, but I’m finding modern-day Christianity difficult to swallow.

Steve Lee

Steve Lee

As usual, a Buddhist perspective on this question will be something different. Dharmanet.org indicates that about 1400 locales in the US have some sort of activity that self-identifies as Buddhist. Very few of these, however, are institutions, churches, or temples that are places of worship. Many are retreat centers or groups meeting in homes. Considering the variety of teaching schools, lineages, and practices, it is difficult to reach any reasonable conclusions about growth or loss of practitioners. The general sense, however, is that Buddhism is growing rapidly.

Adherents.com—a growing collection of over 3,870 adherent statistics and religious geography citations—does provide some information about the growth of Buddhism. Of the top five largest religious groups in the US (self-identified through the American Religious Identity Survey), Buddhism has grown the most in the indicated time period.

On a local note, I can report a general increase in interest in Buddhism and a lowering of the average age of those engaged in exploring the Buddhist path to awakening. A local social media site for all things Buddhist, Wilmington Dharma, reports 40.2 percent of all those reached by the site are in the 18-34 year old demographic. Surprisingly, about 60 percent of that age group are males. The number of local practice groups has nearly tripled in the last five years.

Is this local growth all “Buddhist” in the sense of traditional religion? No. Buddhism is reinventing itself in the west, and Wilmington is no different in that regard. Much of the local growth is from people interested in mindfulness and meditation as tools for living. Traditional Buddhist practices rely heavily on such techniques, but the techniques are not the be-all, end-all to awakening.

Cynthia Barnett

Cynthia Barnett

I think young people, like many other thinkers today, are searching for something authentic. This spiritual search may take them away from creeds, rituals, dogma and even established denominations. They want a fresh look at what it means to follow Good, or God, in this world, and they want to discover it for themselves.

I like to think of church as a living idea, not limited to a building, service or doctrine. I’ve been taught that it’s the structure of Truth and Love; that it rouses us from material beliefs to spiritual ideas and gives us proof that it’s useful in our individual lives, our communities and our world. Church heals, and more. It gives purpose, meaning and unconditional love for us to express. So it’s up to us. That’s a challenge!

Clay Ritter

Pastor Clay Ritter

Why is the church losing young adults? There are a multitude of reasons, but one I would submit is this: Resistance to change on the part of church leaders.

The message should not change (truth is truth), but how we deliver the message can and must change. Young people are searching for truth. They want to make a difference in their world. Case in point: Candidate Barack Obama’s success in uniting the college vote – these kids wanted to make a difference!. But they see the churches of their parents as stale and not relevant.

As leaders, we must be willing to assess what is not working, and be willing to change it so we can reach the next generation. These kids WILL run the world after we are dead and gone, so we had better make sure that they have a foundation of truth, character and courage to carry into their high calling.

I read recently that Howard Hendricks was called in to assess a church that was declining in attendance, and this was his recommendation: “Put a fence around the church and charge admission to people that want to see how church was done in the 1950’s.”

All we need to do is look at Western Europe, where great churches that were the guiding moral compass in society are now being converted to restaurants and clubs.

Bottom line: truth will always be truth, and we should never seek to water down our core beliefs, which will only negate the power of our message. Style, delivery, communication mediums, music, these are things that are not core doctrinal values (if they are, then you have another problem altogether), and must be made relative to the culture we seek to reach.

Josh Stephens

Josh Stephens

The church is losing young adults because society is selling them a better story (a better life) than the church. Society knows what young people want. And the church, or churches, have refused to adapt. I’m not saying the church needs to invest in some sexy back-up dancers in worship or tell people Jesus looked just like Channing Tatum. But the church does need to sell young adults a better story. For too long the church has condemned young people for succumbing to the ways of the world. Instead, they should be loving young adults, despite their faults.

The church has condemned while society has accepted.

Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Shouldn’t the church be accepting the outcast, tattooed, gay, pierced, hurt and broken? The answer is, simply, yes. But this isn’t always the case. Young adults have grown up in a society where religious organizations have turned their backs to these people. And, in turn, young adults have turned their backs on the church.

If I didn’t not grow up in a family and church who, at their core, love God and people (no matter where they come from) I would probably be joining those young people who have turned their back on the church.

We can place the blame on the loss of young adults in the church on the church as a whole, but you ARE the church. If you want to see young adults coming to know Christ and get involved in the church, you have to love these young adults where they are.

Instead of condemning these young adults for what they’ve done, let’s open up our arms. Then we can share with the the incredible story that Christ offers them.

Laura Frank

Laura Frank

I have over 12 years experience working as a youth and young adult minister. I have seen this problem up close several times. First, this is not another conservative versus liberal argument. I once worked for a liberal-leaning pastor and church, and due to their resistance to change, the youth program died, and the young adults stopped attending. A vibrant theatre arts program that brought youth and adults from the church and from other churches together in Christian fellowship was also squashed. The theatre program -though highly successful and a great service project -proved to be too far out of the box of normal church ministry. It became obvious the people giving the most money to the church (the older population) had the loudest and most pervasive voice in the church going forward.
Youth need to have the freedom given to them in Christ to express their love and devotion to God in their own unique ways -they need to be accepted where they are at that moment. That can be through sports or technology and even from my experience -the arts.

If their individual ways of expressing their faith is not accepted in their church, they will leave and possibly never return to the faith. Their voices deserve to be heard. The church belongs to them just as much, even though they probably don’t give as much money.

Han Hills

Han Hills

In a word, information. The modern technological era has made available a huge variety of material online that exposes and demands the reassessment of differing viewpoints. In this environment, churches no longer have control over the information to which our youth are exposed. Through social networking, it is inevitable that the Internet generation reads, hears and sees alternative viewpoints which vastly contradict any singular dogma or rationale espoused at the pulpit. Since the earliest times, religious institutions have fought against the dissemination of information, fighting the translation and publication of texts, especially those that challenge often narrow and archaic viewpoints. Today, this is a battle they can no longer fight nor win. Young people can plainly see that those outside their own traditional faith are not an immoral enemy, but rather a collection of groups vastly similar to themselves. The argument could be made that the young still need social community, but again, they are increasingly finding this online. Blogs are the new pulpits, and social networking the new community for our next generation.

Christine Moughamian

Christine Moughamian

In 1969, my family relocated from Beaune to Chartres, France. I was 16. Both my parents found new jobs; my siblings and I went to new schools. Three months later, I had made new friends, got good grades and was my class mascot.

But deep inside, I was lonely. Something was missing in my life.

My parents didn’t give us a religious upbringing. One day after school, I took a chance and walked alone into the massive cathedral. I walked around the pews, then to the confessional. I knew I had to address the Catholic priest as “Father,” but I couldn’t make myself do it. I sat down in the tight wooden structure. It felt unfamiliar, almost scary.

I couldn’t see the priest’s face in the dark.

“Sir,” I said in a low voice, “I feel something’s missing in me. I don’t believe in God, but I really want to.”

In response, the priest told me to “make friends at school, get good grades and be happy.”

I left even more distraught than when I’d walked in.

God’s priest had let me down.

Looking back at that experience, I think the priest had good intentions, but also lacked appreciation for an adolescent’s drama. I was a “well-adjusted” teen. I did not need advice on how to “make new friends or good grades.”

But I did need guidance into spirituality to help me deal with a world of chaos and war. I needed to know: “How do I feel God’s presence in my life?”

In 2012 America, our society is even more frightening. Christians and “God’s representatives” must learn to address the reality and the poignancy of a young adult’s spiritual quest.

Andy Lee

Andy Lee

I am a mother of three. My kids are ages 20, 19, and 14. We were a military family who moved often, and I’ve had the opportunity to watch my kids respond to the different styles of worship and teaching in the many churches we’ve attended.

It’s quite simple. My kids need and desire a church where they can be themselves. Sing to music their generation listens to. Listen to preachers who make the message relevant to today. They need this in a church because our faith isn’t just about Sunday. Faith is 24/7. That’s why Sunday needs to resemble this generation’s “every day.”

The new church movement with rock bands and preachers in jeans and sneakers is really not very different from what Jesus did. The Pharisees were not pleased with his new “worship style” either. He healed people on the Sabbath and ate with sinners. Radical. We sing in the dark to the thump of a bass drum, a far cry from the churches of 50 years ago. But it is a place my kids want to be. It’s a church where they are growing their faith. Not mine.

Jesus told those questioning his methods that new wine cannot be poured into old wineskins. In the same way, the church must grow and evolve with each generation. We cannot force our style on them. The heart of the message does not change, but the format must.

My middle son has recently posted a video on Facebook that gives an answer to our Viewpoints question. Why don’t we ask a young person?

A church graveyard on the night before Easter? It’s all about light and hope.

Attendees at St. Andrew's On-the-Sound's annual Great Easter Vigil carried their candles from the church's graveyard into the sanctuary on April 7. Photo by Amanda Greene

By AMANDA GREENE
WilmingtonFAVS.com

The sun had just set Saturday (April 7), and the graveyard behind St. Andrew’s On-the-Sound Episcopal Church was filling with the living.

Solemnly, the church’s rector, the Rev. Richard Elliott, lit a flame in a grill in the middle of the graveyard. From that flame, the congregation each lit small white candles.

Elliott said a blessing in remembrance of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and for the hope embodied for Christians in his resurrection.

The crowd of about 50 members silently filed into the church’s darkened

Great Easter Vigil attendees participating in the service Saturday April 7 at St. Andrew's On-the-Sound. Photo by Amanda Greene

sanctuary for St. Andrew’s yearly Great Vigil of Easter. For congregants, it’s a time of quiet reflection and scripture readings in preparation of Easter Sunday (April 8).

For Elliott, the Easter vigil is “one of the times I feel I really get to go to church.”

Before his liturgy, associate rector, the Rev. Mark Powell, directed the congregants to blow out their candles.

“Hallelujah, Christ is risen,” he said.

“The Lord is risen indeed,” they responded.

But for 50-year-old James Richard Criswell, it was also the night of his

James Criswell says his vows to renounce sin before his Easter vigil baptism. Photo by Amanda Greene

baptism and a new beginning. Elliott explained that in the ancient church, the Easter vigil was a customary time for baptisms, though it’s not as common a practice today.

“It was just time for me to get serious about faith. I kind of got a little choked up when I was up there,” he said after his baptism. “It’s been a big, uplifting experience for me.”

James Criswell's baptism. Photo by Amanda Greene

BRIEF: Myrtle Grove Presbyterian to present Maundy Thursday drama

Jesus from the Deesis Mosaic

Jesus from the Deesis Mosaic (Photo credit: jakebouma)

Myrtle Grove Evangelical Presbyterian Church will present a visual narrative of the final days of Jesus in Jerusalem at 7 p.m. Maundy Thursday (April 5) at the church, 800 Piner Road. The presentation will be a multimedia experience including worship and communion. Childcare will be provided for kids ages two and younger. Details: 910-791-6179.

– Amanda Greene

 

Packed crowd for annual Wrightsboro Living Cross Easter cantata

A scene with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in The Living Cross drama on Palm Sunday (April 1) Photo by Amanda Greene

By AMANDA GREENE
WilmingtonFAVS

No seats could be found inside the sanctuary at Wrightsboro Baptist Church for its annual Living Cross Easter drama on Sunday (April 1).

And the centurions were getting restless — standing outside the church

The centurions and members of the crowd in Jerusalem wait for their entrance. Photo by Amanda Greene

practicing their most menacing “Grrrs” while waiting for their parts at the end of the drama following Jesus Christ’s life, ministry, death and resurrection.

But the 3-month-old actor playing Baby Jesus just slept serenely through his part in the spotlight.

The performance features a 50-member choir singing 19 songs and standing inside a huge cross-shaped choir loft on stage overlooking the drama of Jesus’ life below.

The drama’s cast is also huge including about 100 community members.

The free Living Cross performances continue at 7:30 p.m. on April 3 and April 6 at the church, 2736 Castle Hayne Road.

Details: 910-763-3181

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Holy Week means remembering Jesus and remembering family

By Contributor Tracy Bua Smith

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week, and it’s exactly one week before Easter Sunday. Each Palm Sunday, Catholic Churches hand out blessed palm branches to the congregation.  The above picture are palms from last year that we made into a cross.

Did you know that the ashes from Ash Wednesday come from the burnt palms from last year’s Palm Sunday?   About.com Catholicism states this about Palm Sunday, “Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entrance of Christ into Jerusalem  (Matthew 21:1-9), when palm branches were placed in His path, before  His arrest on Holy Thursday and His Crucifixion on Good Friday. It thus marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent, and the week in which Christians celebrate the mystery of their salvation through Christ’s Death and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.”

Here is a Palm Sunday collage video I wanted to share: (the resolution isn’t the best, but the messages and images are still beautiful)

The three holiest days of the Catholic church’s calendar are coming up on this Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These three holy days are called the Easter Triduum.  This is a special time in our family’s life, not only because we remember Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.

But also it was six years ago at the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday that my husband and his cousin, Sharon, entered into full communion with the Catholic Church.  Here we are just before this special Mass began.

My husband was baptized a Baptist, but he attended Mass with me while dating, when we were newlyweds, and when we had our three older children. His cousin, Sharon, visited many churches during her lifetime. After 50-plus years of praying and searching, she realized what she was missing all her life was receiving Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Holy Eucharist. (John 6: 48-68)

It was a blessing and a glorious day to see my husband and Sharon enter the Catholic Church at Easter in 2006! Sharon was a saint here on earth, and now she is in heaven since 2007 when her 5-year battle with lung cancer took her away to be with Jesus and Mary’s loving and awaiting arms.  Her son, Patrick, followed her seven months later.  We miss Sharon and Patrick so much, but we are comforted that Sharon is no longer fighting her cancer, and Patrick is running freely in heaven after being in a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy during his 21 years of life.

May you and your family and friends have a blessed Holy Week and Easter!

One Brave Christian Experiment: Day 40, “Am I a brave Christian?”

Editor’s Note: Contributor Christine Moughamian has blogged for 40 days of Lent (including Sundays) about her progress becoming “one brave Christian.” This was the last day of her Lenten experiment. Read about her experiment by searching this site for “One Brave Christian Experiment.”

By Contributor Christine Moughamian

Today’s day 40 of my 40-day Lenten experiment. I ask myself the question: “Am I a ‘brave Christian’?”

The answer that comes to me is: “Yes and No.”

If being a Christian means “accepting Jesus as my savior,” the answer is “No.”

If it means “living my life in accordance to what Jesus taught,” the answer is “Yes.”

What I have learned from this experiment is what I already knew:

– First, my Bible study gave me the certainty that the words and

Good Shepherd

Jesus as the Good Shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

teachings of Jesus are aimed at leading us back to our inner divinity.

– Second, in my understanding of the scriptures, Jesus opened that path for us through the gates of forgiveness and love.

– Third, I think these teachings point to a universal truth. They belong to all spiritual traditions and are not exclusive to Christianity.

My experience strengthened my world faith approach to spirituality.

I am grateful to both Sam Teague, the creator of the experiment, and Danny Morris, the author of “A Life That Really Matters,” for this program.

Special thanks go to Stowe Dailey Shockey for giving me her book “Flying High,” and to her co-author Calvin LeHew for sharing his experience as a “brave Christian.”

I enjoyed the discipline of writing everyday. I think it made me a better writer.

I am grateful to www.wilmingtonfavs.com editor, Amanda Greene, for believing in my commitment and supporting me along the way.

I deeply appreciate the opportunity I had to share my process with my readers. I am thankful for their comments.

My fondest gratitude goes to my boyfriend, Jim Downer, for his unfailing support and listening presence. I love you, Jim!

Blessings of Love and Light to All!

Steel walls arrive for the new Coastal Christian High School; students embrace site with prayer chain

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By AMANDA GREENE
WilmingtonFAVS

After years of waiting, students, teachers, administrators and church officials connected to Coastal Christian High School saw the steel walls of their new building arrive Wednesday (March 28).

“Spread out arms-length, but leave room for Jesus!” yelled teachers as they positioned students around the plot for the 26,000 square foot facility.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a wide circle around their high school plot behind the Myrtle Grove Post Office, about 200 students joined hands, prayed and sang hymns for the success of the construction project.

CCHS Sophomore Madison Ashcraft said she wasn’t sure before today if the new school would be completed before she graduated. The high school has been meeting in Temple Baptist Activity Center since it began in 2006, and the new building is set for completion in January 2013.

“It’s pretty crazy because for so long we’ve been cramped up in that building. It hasn’t been real until I came out here today,” she said.

Principal Kirk Nielsen gave the first blessing of the morning’s prayer service.

“Each and every one of us are living stones of God’s house, and we need to stand as living stones of Coastal Christian High School,” he said.

Concrete footings for the building were poured last week, and school officials expect the walls to be erected in the next two weeks.

BRIEF: Caregiver conference coming to downtown Wilmington

Caregiver joins her striking caregivers

Caregiver joins her striking caregivers (Photo credit: Simon Oosterman)

Lower Cape Fear Hospice & Lifecare Center will present the free Live Well. Every Moment Matters community caregiver conference 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. Friday (March 30) at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside in downtown Wilmington.

The event includes lunch, all materials presentations on preparing to be a caregiver, communicating with people with dementia; caring for your spirit while caring for others.

The event is targeted to individual caregivers as well as church leaders.

The conference sessions include:

Prepare to Care: What Caregivers Need to Know with Suzanne LaFollette-Black (AARP)

Finding Meaning in the Moments: Communicating with People with Dementia, Melanie Bunn (Alzheimers NC)

Keeping your Spirit Healthy when your Caregiving Duties and Responsibilities are Dragging You Down, Benjamin Pratt (Author/Speaker)

Living with Loss, Living with Hope, Susan Dunlap (Duke Divinity School).

Details: 910-796-7943.

– Amanda Greene