Chapel Hill: Community

June 9, 2014

On Faith: Community Church joins HkonJ coalition

The Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist voted at a congregational meeting last week to become an official partner of HkonJ (Historic Thousands on Jones Street People's Assembly Coalition), which is leading the Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina.

The Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist voted at a congregational meeting last week to become an official partner of HkonJ (Historic Thousands on Jones Street People's Assembly Coalition), which is leading the Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina.

The church, 106 Purefoy Road, was founded in 1953 by civil rights activist Charles Jones, a Presbyterian minister, and his followers who believed segregation was not compatible with the Christian teaching to love God and neighbor. This congregation continues to carry on this legacy of acting up for what it believes is right.

Jones was pastor of Chapel Hill's University Presbyterian Church when he was charged with heresy and asked to leave the Presbyterian ministry. Although the charges were unspecified, it was thought to be because he was opening the church to African Americans and even permitting socializing between the races.

The congregation at Community Church has had more than 20 members arrested defending voting rights, both last spring and more recently for occupying House Speaker Thom Tillis' office. The church also sent two busloads to the Moral March in Raleigh during the past winter.

The Rev. Gary Kowalski is serving the congregation as interim minister.

Marriage challenge

A national Baptist group and a Jewish organization joined the United Church of Christ last week as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina’s marriage laws.

The Alliance of Baptists is a 123-member church network that split from the Southern Baptist Convention in 1987, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis is the oldest and largest rabbinic organization in the country.

The lawsuit, filed in the Western District of North Carolina on April 28, is the first faith-based challenge to same-sex marriage bans in the country.

Alliance President Michael Castle, who spoke Thursday at a press conference at Durham’s Watts Street Baptist Church, said “We are living deeply into our Christian values and offering a clear, Baptist voice for justice and religious liberty.”

Castle, who is gay, was educated at a Baptist seminary but left the Southern Baptist Convention to be ordained by the United Church of Christ in 1997. He has been active in the Alliance since 1996.

Rabbi Jen Feldman of Chapel Hill's Kehillah Synagogue, not at the press conference but responding to an email, said human-rights issues are religious issues as far as Jews are concerned.

“Our tradition affirms the dignity of every human being as made in God’s image and mandates that we pursue justice and treat each other justly.

“Our tradition calls us to fight discrimination based on sexual orientation. I fully support this lawsuit and perform Jewish weddings for same-sex couples. Kehillah Synagogue adopted a resolution to oppose Amendment One and held education and advocacy meetings to fight its passage.”

At the press conference, Chapel Hill Town Council member Maria T. Palmer, s member of Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church, said, “As Christians and as Baptists, we particularly lamented the denigration of our LGBT sisters and brothers in the debate by those who claim to speak for God.

“Being part of the lawsuit means offering more than refuge, but to stand with LGBT sisters and brothers inside and outside the church.”

North Carolina law gives authority to ministers to conduct marriage ceremonies but makes it illegal for them to marry couples without a valid marriage license. Same-sex couples cannot obtain a marriage license because of this statute and because of Amendment One, approved by votes in 2012, that defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

Two individual plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Rev. Nancy Petty, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, and the Rev. Nancy Ellett Allison, a lifelong Baptist, graduate of Southwestern Baptist Seminary and since 2004 pastor of Covenant UCC in Charlotte.

Watts Street Baptist has been affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists since 2009.

Clothing giveaway

The Take and Wear Clothes Closet located at Lystra Baptist Church will be open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Anyone needing clothes is welcome.

Lystra Church is located at 686 Lystra Road, off 15-501.

Vacation Bible School

Registration for Vacation Bible School at Christ United Methodist Church is under way. Those registering before Saturday will get the special rate of $35 per child. After that the price is $55 per child. Scholarships are available.

“God's Weird Animals!” is the title of the VBS curriculum this year. The idea is that God filled the world with a lot of crazy creatures, including each individual.

Kids ages 4 years to rising fifth graders will play, sing and learn that God loves each person as a unique child.

The church is located at 800 Market St. in Southern Village. For more information and to register call 919-969-8820.

Fair-trade clothing

One World Market, a fair-trade store at 811 Ninth St. in Durham, has added a product line.

Although not a church-sponsored endeavor, the market began as a justice issue with a group at Watts Street Baptist Church 21 years ago and the first items were sold in the church fellowship hall.

The store is throwing a party from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday to introduce a new hand-sewn clothing line by Global Mamas in Ghana, which employs 600 women in seven communities.

During the launch party, customers will get a first look at the unique clothing made by grandmothers, mothers, sisters, each Mama working hard to support her family and community.

Also, shoppers will get 25 percent off the entire line during the Friday event and will be able to learn more about how sales of this colorful clothing will affect the women’s lives.

Store director April Ravelli said the women not only earn a fair wage, but have access to a school that Global Mamas built for their children. They also will get mentoring from successful businesswomen and after two years have access to interest-free loans to start their own business.

The clothing is made from batik, a traditional fabric, and will feature modern styles women might wear to church or just around town, she said.

The line features a wrap dress that is easy to wear and compliments every body type. It comes in blues and purple and in a black and white polka dot.

The line also offers skirts and baby clothing, including baby shoes. The price range for dresses is $48 to $56. Skirts are $44, baby shoes $16 and baby beds $8.

For the most part, the 600 women work at home where they can also take care of children.

Contact Flo Johnston at or call 910-361-4135.

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