Category Archives: Nondenominational

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

Empty Bowls Wilmington fundraiser sees its largest crowd ever

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The parking lot was packed and lines snaked through First Baptist Activity Center for the Empty Bowls benefit for Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard and Good Shepherd Center today (March 23).

Organizers of Wilmington’s Empty Bowls Lenten lunch event said it had a record attendance, selling about 1,800 tickets.

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard gives emergency food to the poor, and Good Shepherd Center shelters the homeless and helps reconnect them with housing.

Area potters and ceramic artists crafted about 1,900 bowls for Empty Bowls attendees to take home after the event. Three dozen area restaurants donated soups, breads, cookies and drinks for the crowd.

There were even a few celebrity soup servers including author Clyde Edgerton, Cucalorus Film Festival director Dan Brawley and New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield.

A night with The Wilmington Prayer Furnace

Sara Clark

By Photographer Sara Clark

WilmingtonFAVS’ photographer Sara Clark recently spent a night capturing a Friday night worship session called Prophetic Explosion at The Wilmington Prayer Furnace at 101 N. Kerr Ave., which will celebrate its first anniversary in May.

Learn more about The Wilmington Prayer Furnace here.

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Ministry toolbox: A pastor’s reflections on perfecting worship, part 1

Clay Ritter

By Contributor Pastor Clay Ritter

Note: The following is the first of a series of articles I will be writing about the Calvary Chapel Essential Worship Conference, held March 8-10 at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale.

On March 8, 13 members of the Calvary Chapel Wilmington’s worship ministry drove to Ft. Lauderdale for the Calvary Chapel Essential Worship Conference. The conference was a three-day event for worship leaders to be refreshed, inspired and equipped for the ministry.

Speakers included Pastor Bob Coy (Senior Pastor, Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale), Pastor Tony Evans (Senior Pastor Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship), and Pastor Pedro Garcia (Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Kendall). Well known worship leaders and Christian musicians performing or speaking included Christy & Nathan Nockels (Watermark, Passion City), Phil Wickham, Anthony Evans, Mia Fields (Hillsong), Bernard Harris, Ascend the Hill, along with many others.

In a teaching session on the first day with Pastor Bob Coy, he spoke of the important role the worship leader plays in cultivating the soil of a congregation’s heart to prepare for the planting of the word of God. I felt that was a perfect metaphor, as I often come into church carrying the problems and issues of the prior week.  I find the time I spend in worship is like a fresh rain on the dry and rocky soil of my heart.

In Matthew 13, Jesus spoke a parable about the sower, which illustrates how the condition of our heart can affect how we receive the word of God (Matt 13:3-9).

Pastor Bob also brought out four points I felt were worth sharing.

#1 Character (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

As a worship leader, we should be more concerned with substance, rather than style; with being faithful rather than being famous; with being holy rather than happy. A worship leader with character will be more concerned with bringing glory to God, rather than themselves.

#2 Obedience (Hebrews 13:17)

When God gives a gift to one of his children, like the gift of music, that gift is a tool to be used in obedience to the Lord. We should be focused on using our gifts in line with the call of God in our life.

#3 Skill (1 Chronicles 25)

Skill as a musician or singer is obviously needed, but not everyone has the skill to be on the stage. In 1 Chronicles, we see men who were skilled in music were the ones placed in the ministry of worship. A person may have a heart for worship, but that doesn’t mean they are called to lead the congregation. A good worship leader needs to be able to discern between the two. Being a worship leader also requires skill with people, especially if we have to tell someone we don’t believe they are gifted to be on the stage. We never want to crush someone’s spirit. This is not American Idol!

#4 Sensitivity (Leviticus 10)

A worship leader must be sensitive to the leading of the Lord and the Holy Spirit. In Leviticus 10,  Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, brought “strange fire” to the altar. We aren’t sure what this strange fire was, but we know it wasn’t what God called for, and they weren’t being sensitive to God’s word in the way they worshiped.

The next session I attended dealt with “Raising up the next generation of worship leaders.” Stay tuned!

The banner from the Essential Worship Conference. Courtesy of Pastor Clay Ritter.

Pender prison to break ground on its chapel Wednesday

Wilmington Faith and Values

It’s been six years of fundraising with donations coming from 74 area churches and 88 people in Southeastern North Carolina. But this week Pender Correctional Institution in Burgaw will break ground on its freestanding chapel.

PCI will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the 4,200 square foot facility at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Only invited guests can attend.

With labor donated from N.C. Baptist Men, the Pender County prison hopes to complete its new chapel in six months.

For many years, the space used as the chapel in the prison was a 20 foot by 24 foot classroom space, the walls lined with bookshelves full of holy texts and reference material for different faiths.

In the North Carolina prison system, privately-funded chapels are fairly rare. According to N.C. prison system records, as of 2010, out of the state’s 70 prisons with chapels, only nine were built with private money.

The new building’s auditorium will seat 200, where the former room seated 30. There are 768 inmates in the prison, said Pender Correctional Chaplain Jimmy Joseph.

The chapel will also have two classrooms, offices for the chaplaincy staff, restrooms and storage space. A large stained glass window in the gable of the auditorium will capture eastern light in the mornings, “creating a worshipful atmosphere in the building,” Joseph wrote in an email. The building will be a wood framed structure with brick veneer to match the other buildings in the prison.

Stay tuned for more on this story. Wilmington Faith and Values reporters will attend the ceremony on Wednesday.

One Brave Christian Experiment: Day 17, Eat, pray, sleep

Editor’s Note: Contributor Christine Moughamian is blogging each day of Lent about her progress becoming “one brave Christian.” Follow her experiment on Twitter @1bravechristian.

By Contributor Christine Moughamian

There I was again, lying in bed; wide awake at 4 a.m., literally counting the minutes on my cell phone. So I did what I usually do: I called Silent Unity at 1-800-NOW-PRAY.

Since I’d received a phone call from my sister in France, I couldn’t stop thinking about my family, my aging mother and the legal issues that arose after my father’s passing. I asked my prayer partner to help me formulate a prayer for all of us.

“Divine Justice is established under grace,” she said.

It was a prayer powerful enough for me to surrender to God and go back to sleep.

But sleep would not come.

I listened to my motivational tape, then checked the time, again and again: 4:44 a.m., 4:52 a.m., 5:06 a.m..

Frustrated, I threw the blankets off my bed, got up and said out loud: “I’m not writing ‘The Diary of A Sleepwalker, Part II.’ I can’t go back to my first post.” Then I picked up my cell phone and my flashlight. I went upstairs to pray and meditate as “one brave Christian.”

Christine's meditation pillow and scriptures, tools of her One Brave Christian Experiment. Photo by Christine Moughamian.

I sat down on my pillow, opened my practice booklet, recorded the time in it: 5:12 a.m. I was 18 minutes early for my date with Sam Teague.

“Better early than late,” I thought.

I read the selected scripture for today, Luke 11:9,10.

“I say to you also, Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and he who knocks, it shall be opened to him.”

To put the words of Jesus Christ back in context, I read the few preceding chapters. They describe his ministry of healing the sick and the lame with both touch and word. I was struck by the story of the leper told in Luke 5:12, reflecting the time of my meditation:

“When Jesus was in one of the cities, there came a man who was covered with leprosy; and he saw Jesus and fell on his face, and besought him, saying, My Lord, if you will, you can cleanse me.”

Then in Luke 5:13:

“And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, I will, be clean; and immediately, his leprosy left him.”

Instead of “meditating” on the scripture, I decided to use it.

“I will,” I said out loud. “SLEEP!”

I stretched out on the floor, wrapped myself in a blanket and… fell asleep.

I woke up at 7:12 a.m., refreshed and renewed but uninspired by the scriptures. My boyfriend corrected me.

“Here’s your post,” he said, “you asked and you were given.”

At first, it seemed too mundane to write about using a biblical quote to, well, go back to sleep.

But I thought about Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling book “Eat, Pray, Love.” I remembered the beginning of her story.

She was kept up at night and wept and wailed in her bathroom, until she eventually fell on her knees and prayed.

Like me, she didn’t see a thunderbolt or hear “an Old Testament Hollywood Charlton Heston voice, nor was it a voice telling me I must build a baseball field in my backyard.”

It was her own voice that said: “Go back to bed, Liz.”

To check her exact quote, I got her book. It opened on its own, at that

Christine's copy of Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Eat, Pray Love." Photo by Christine Moughamian

specific page, with a note I had written on a loose piece of paper, dated Monday, March 1, 2010:

Daily Guideposts 2010, A Spirit-lifting Devotional, p. 67:

“But go now to your rest; for you will rise again and have full share of those last days.” (Daniel 12:13)

Who knows, I might just write the next bestseller? I already have a title:


Mentors needed for Christian Women’s Job Corp Ministry this weekend

Andy Lee

By Contributor Andy Lee

She was a woman struggling to survive in a marriage rocked by mental illness.

Without relatives nearby, Mary Ellen Bowman did her best to raise her boys alone. Their family’s only source of income (a disability check) paid the rent but left no money for food or bills.

Bowman used to be a desperate woman living in poverty – much like the

Christian Women's Job Corp Executive Director, Mary Ellen Bowman, lists all of the upcoming CWJC events on the board Monday (March 5) during their weekly meeting at the First Baptist Church Activities Center on Independence Boulevard in Wilmington.

women she now mentors.

While sitting on a park bench one day, Bowman met Frances Anderson. Anderson was the pioneer who brought Christian Women’s Job Corps to hurting women in Wilmington. During their conversation, she saw something very special in Mary Ellen, the gift of hardship partnered with faith. So she encouraged Bowman to attend a CWJC convention.

This was the spark that lit the flame in Mary Ellen Bowman. She soon became the executive director of Wilmington’s CWJC ministry. Almost 12 years later, she is still CWJC’s fearless leader.

What is Christian Women’s Job Corps?

CWJC is a ministry of women helping women. It is a non-profit organization that exists to equip women in poverty with necessary life skills to move them from dependency to self-sufficiency. Life skills CWJC mentors teach include: money management, goal setting, and parenting skills. The participants also receive instruction in job readiness such as computer skills, career development and resume writing. Women in the program also attend a weekly Bible study.

The training is vital, but more importantly, each woman is given a mentor. Each mentor is trained by CWJC to walk alongside, encourage, and help discover each protegee’s strengths.

Along with job and life-skill training, CWJC tries to help with basic needs. They welcome donations of cars, gas cards, bus passes, NIV Bibles and toiletry articles such as shampoo, soap and lotion.

One of Bowman’s biggest dreams is to provide housing for homeless women and those living in dilapidated, unsafe homes. Bowman dreams of a “Village of Hope,” a place where the women can both attend CWJC classes and tuck their children into bed at night.

CWJC holds two large fundraisers annually. Their “Parade of Tables” is scheduled for April 28 (stay tuned to Wilmington FAVs for more information), and the Battle of the Bands will be held Sept. 14.

Most importantly, mentors and computer teachers are needed. CWJC can only accept participants based on the number of mentors available. Currently, there are seven. Yet there are many more women on the waiting list who need help. The next mentor training will be 10 a.m. Saturday (March 10) at Winter Park Baptist Church, 4700 Wrightsville Ave.

Details: 910-392-3967.

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My solution to family tragedy: Mindful Writing

By Contributor Jennifer Johnson

I began an in-depth exploration of various writing practices years ago following my mother’s suicide attempt.

I had studied a number of writing practices, but I hadn’t found one in which I could find an ease, a resting place.

So I created my own practice I call Mindful Writing based on a blend of

Writing illustration by Jennifer Johnson

my study and practice of Insight Meditation, various writing techniques and therapeutic writing.

Writing about my experience mindfully helped me to make order from the chaos and make meaning from the tragedy that had occurred in my family.

Mindful Writing involves the writer entering the practice with mindfulness meditation, listening to her/his thoughts and writing what she/he hears.

Unlike most practices that encourage the writer to write as quickly as possible, I encourage the writer to write slowly, so it becomes a mindfulness practice of being present with what arises in the writer’s thoughts in each passing moment.

The practice is most powerful when undertaken within the support of a facilitated group. I participated in a weekly facilitated writing group for a number of years similar, in some regards, to this practice. The very act of writing what wanted to have a voice within me and then reading it aloud in a group while receiving guidance and feedback from the facilitator provided an experience of learning to trust my own voice.

It offered a warm environment in which I could express anything that arose in me in response to my family’s tragedy and feel a sense of connectedness, belonging and acceptance by a group of fellow writers on the path.

Writer's desk illustration by Jennifer Johnson

Week by week, the writing helped me to transform the suffering in my experience and helped me to heal. The writing, along with my own mindfulness practice, was such a powerful experience I became passionate about creating a Mindful Writing technique, combining the two things most healing for me: Insight Meditation practice and a healing writing process.

This practice isn’t about building one’s writing craft. It’s about accessing the inner well of creative flow, learning to trust one’s authentic writing voice and healing.

In addition to my Mindful Writing: The Path to Creative Freedom workshop and daylong retreat, I offer an online therapeutic writing workshop called Mindful Writing for Transformation.

This transformative workshop provides an individual interaction with me in which beginning or experienced writers receive a text-based lesson weekly and then email me their writing for guidance and response. People come to this workshop in transition or dealing with suffering of some sort, such as anxiety, depression, grief or loss, war, accident, abuse-related trauma, stress or illness.

Participants learn mindfulness skills for managing the difficult emotions related to the painful events, and through their writing, they begin to transform the suffering.

With a mindful approach to writing, we can heal this world one story at a time.

My next Mindful Writing for Transformation online six-week workshop is March 23 – April 27, 2012. Cost is $125. Please email to register.

Second leg of N.C. NAACP Truth and Hope Tour of Poverty coming to Wilmington and Brunswick County this weekend

Wilmington Faith and Values

The state’s NAACP is continuing its bus tour across the state this weekend in the Wilmington area.

The Truth and Hope Tour, Putting a Face on Poverty in Southeastern North Carolina has been touring the state in the past month pointing out housing inequities and extreme poverty.

North Carolina NAACP president the Rev. William Barber, II will speak at 9 a.m. Saturday (March 3) at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 3701 Princess Place Drive in Wilmington.

Then his tour continues into Brunswick County with a stop at about 11 a.m. in Navassa and on to Supply at noon to the Royal Oak Community.

For site directions, call 631-806-9677.

At March event, diners eat soup to help feed others

By Marita Bon
Copyright StarNews 2012
Reprinted with permission

When area residents take their places in a soup line this spring, they’ll replicate a situation that has become a matter of routine for thousands of local individuals and families in need.

All proceeds of Empty Bowls 2012, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. March 23, support Good Shepherd Center and Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, local nonprofits that provide meals and groceries to the area’s hungry.

Jane Radack of Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, who’s spearheading Empty Bowls’ sponsorship drive, said hunger is not restricted to stereotypes – it afflicts people of all ages and backgrounds.

“The face of hunger in Wilmington may be the mom of three teenage boys whose hours were cut from 40 to 20 by a boss trying to keep all his employees in at least a part-time job,” she explained. “Or it could be the retired grandfather down your street who suddenly finds himself responsible for feeding his grandkids.”

According to Radack, one-fifth of Mother Hubbard’s clients are children.

“The youngsters that come to us wake up hungry, attend school hungry and go to bed hungry,” she said. “While we do serve the homeless and the mentally ill, they represent less than 10 percent of the 2,500 people we serve each month.”

A majority of the agency’s clients are the working poor or folks who suddenly find themselves in some sort of financial crisis.

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard distributed about a half-million pounds of food in 2011, a significant increase over prior years, while Good Shepherd’s soup kitchen served 77,588 meals in the past 12 months.

Due to the high demand, Empty Bowls planners strongly encourage purchasing tickets in advance. They will be available at: Blue Moon Gift Shop, First Baptist Activity Center, Good Shepherd Center, Grace United Methodist Church, Jester’s Java, New Elements, Spectrum Gallery and Temptations at the Porters Neck and Hanover Center locations.

Businesses and individuals can support Empty Bowls 2012 through sponsorship opportunities, Radack said. To find out more, call her at 793-9236.


Empty Bowls 2012

When: 11 a.m. -2 p.m. Friday, March 23
Where: First Baptist Activity Building, 1939 Independence Blvd.
What: For a $15 ticket, guests can dine on soup donated by more than 25 area restaurants and also take home a one-of-a-kind bowl created and donated by local potters. Take-out is also available.
Why: Proceeds support Good Shepherd Center and Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard.