McMannen United Methodist Church, 4102 Neal Road, has taken a bold step toward helping kids in Durham growing up in poverty.
The church has launched a Little Free Library, essentially a box where anyone may stop by and pick up a book or two and bring another book to share.
“Our library is painted in bright, kid-friendly colors and we planted it in back of the church beside our playground as an outreach strategy and a means of serving a need in our community,” said Jackie Bolen, who directs the church’s preschool and the Children’s Outreach and Ministry.
“At McMannen, it is unacceptable that Durham has a 28 percent child poverty rate,” she said. “We understand that kids without books fall behind their peers before they even get to school, and we believe that we have ample books and communication resources to secure donations and help serve the community in this way.”
Bolen said McMannen’s is the third Little Free Llibrary in the 27705 zip code, 12th library in Durham and first library at a church.
But Bolen does not consider the project ended.
“We would like to take this a step further,” she said. “We would like to meet with and train people who believe in the importance of literacy so that we could start a Little Red Wagon ministry.”
This would involve organizing teams to take wagons full of books into parks and other areas of the city.
“Our vision is to see churches and groups all over Durham doing this,” Bolen said. “For us this is not a McMannen thing, but a Kingdom thing. But we can’t do it alone.”
Interested persons should email Bolen at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or to support this effort. The church number is 919-383-1263.
Theology and health
The summer research workshop, sponsored by Duke’s Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, is on tap Aug. 10-14.
The workshop compresses material presented during the past year by post-doctoral fellowship researchers. It is unique in the world, says Dr. Harold G. Koenig, director, for offering specific training on how to conduct research on religion, spirituality and health.
The center recommends these workshops for researchers early in their careers and for seasoned researchers wishing to shift their work into spirituality and health. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible.
In past years, the workshop has been approved for 32.5 continuing medical education credits. The Association of Professional Chaplains has indicated that this educational event can provide 30.5 hours of continuing education that can be applied to the educational hours required by the Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc.
Trinity United Methodist on Church Street in downtown has made office space available to Open Table Ministry and the Rev. Carolyn Schuldt, a graduate of Duke Divinity and chaplain and executive director of Open Table, has a part-time appointment to work at the church.
In a recent item in the church newsletter, Schuldt talked about the ministry, an independent nonprofit, and its ongoing work.
“We are now able to expand our work together by offering a hot lunch every Monday on Trinity’s lawn,” Schuldt said. “We are reaching a growing number of homeless individuals who live on Durham streets. Local churches provide the food, and the meals create an opportunity to listen to personal stories of homelessness and offer hope for transformation.”
At the first Monday lunch, 30 people ate lasagna provided by Yates Baptist Church. On Memorial Day, the ministry fed 100 people, she said.
Open Table will continue to serve lunch on Wednesdays beside the highway between Durham and Chapel Hill.
Food is always accompanied by conversation and Schuldt hears lots of stories. Here is one she recalled.
“He came pushing a baby stroller, had lost his job, and run out of food. That morning he’d gone to Social Services to apply for food stamps and an emergency food voucher, but was directed to a different office where he was directed to Urban Ministries for groceries.
“He was turned away empty handed at Urban Ministries (not sure why) and was sent back to the office he began the day at where he was told he was too late to complete the application. He would have to try again another day.
“Frustrated, hungry and in need of food for his child, the man said he cried out to God for help, and saw the Open Table sign. He and his child left that Monday lunch on Trinity’s lawn with full bellies, food to take with them and a renewed hope that God will not abandon them even in the darkest of times.”
Schuldt says solving problems associated with poverty and homelessness may not be possible for Open Table ministry, but what is possible is “partnering together so we can offer the love of Christ one conversation at a time.”
Pastor Rodney Green of Changing a Generation Outreach will celebrate his 15th year of ministry in a 4 p.m. Sunday service at North East Baptist Church, 3204 N.C. 55. Host pastor is Wesley Elam.
Pastor Donald Fozard Sr. of Mt. Zion Christian Church will speak.
Pastor Green’s work in East Durham has centered on the needs of hungry and homeless people.
Contact Flo Johnston at email@example.com or call 910-361-4135.