Chapel Hill: Community

On Faith: It’s Christmas in November at St. Matthew’s concert

The Faith & the Arts Program of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church will present what has become an annual, beloved event: a Christmas concert by the St. Matthew’s Women’s Singing Circle at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30, the first Sunday in Advent.

Their songs will be interspersed with spoken word, poetry and stories. This year they will be joined by the trio Soul Cake, composed of Bob Bedell, Curtis Stagner and Dave Wilson. The concert will be followed by a reception in the Ruffin House.

The Singing Circle, some 20-voices strong, is led by Mary Rocap and has been meeting monthly for the past five years for fellowship and singing. Their Christmas CD, “Venite Adoremus,” released last December, will be available for purchase.

Soul Cake has developed a repertoire specializing in Christmas songs.

Tickets are $10 and are available in the church office, 210 St. Mary’s Road in Hillsborough.

The arts have always thrived at St. Matthew’s. “We are blessed with many creative people within our midst: singers, poets, photographers, painters, writers and playwrights, potters and musicians,” the rector, Brooks Graebner, says. “We have the beautiful setting of our church building to offer for programs, musical events in particular.”

The Faith and Arts Series began in 2010.

Marketplace Advent

Mount Carmel Baptist Church has an unusual Christmas gift to the community called “Marketplace Advent,” a 90-minute tour of the events that proclaim the birth of Jesus through the eyes of those in or near Bethlehem on Christmas Eve more than 2,000 years ago.

Tours will be scheduled every 10 minutes, and each will have a guide who might be “Centurion,” a Roman soldier, or “Miriam,” a Jewish woman. Visitors will be divided into groups of 10 to 12 people who are designated as one of the tribes of Israel.

Marketplace Advent is set Friday through Sunday, Dec. 5-7, each night from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the church located at 2016 Mt. Carmel Road in Chapel Hill.

The tour includes eight scenes, including The Prophet Isaiah, Mary and the Angel Gabriel, Mary and Elizabeth, The Census Taker, The Inn at Bethlehem, The Marketplace, The Shepherds and The Nativity.

Tours will stop at each of the scenes for a specific period of time. At scenes 1-4, about 5 minutes; at scene 5, about 20 minutes because it includes refreshments of coffee, hot cider, crackers, cheese and fruit; scene 6, about 30 minutes, so tourists will have time to visit and sample wares at the bakery, candle shop, carpentry shop, apothecary , candy shop, potter’s shop, basket shop, jewelry shop and meet the storyteller.

After this, the tour travels to the shepherds who then lead the group to the Nativity scene with Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus.

Marketplace Advent is a free, but reservations are required. Call 919-933-8565 or visit

Chorale concert

The Durham Community Chorale’s concert, “Holiday Traditions,” is set for 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at Temple Baptist Church, 4504 Sterling Drive in northern Durham County.

“Where there is charity and love, there is God,” is the inspiring message of “Ubi Caritas” by Rene Clausen, a madrigal-inspired highlight of a program that embraces the season from many angles.

From Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and the haunting “Carol of the Magi” by John Rutter to such familiar favorites as “The Little Drummer Boy” and “The Christmas Song,” the chorale’s 27th holiday concert is sure to evoke the spirit of the season.

Melody Zentner directs the chorale.

Tickets at $10 are available from chorale members, at the door on the day of the concert or by visiting

Humanitarian awards

Duke University Chapel presented its 2014 Humanitarian Service Award on Sunday to two people who have been exemplary in their service to others during a reception.

The recipients were Brenda Brodie, a co-founder of the Durham nonprofit SEEDS, which teaches respect for the earth and each other through gardening and growing food; and the Rev. Colin Miller, founder of the Community of the Franciscan Way, also in Durham, which models a life of communal prayer and acts of mercy.

Each will receive a grant of $1,500 to further humanitarian efforts.

Brodie, a member of the Congregation at Duke Chapel, co-founded South Eastern Efforts Developing Sustainable Spaces (SEEDS) in 1994 with Annice Kenan, beginning with a garden on a two-acre plot in Northeast Central Durham. The organization has since expanded to include an after-school program, an education center, community celebrations and a business run by teenagers that sells produce at the Durham Farmers’ Market.

About eight years ago, Miller began leading daily morning and evening prayer services at Saint Joseph’s Episcopal Church, near Duke’s East Campus. He invited homeless men nearby to join him in prayer and shared meals. As relationships within this group developed, they formed a residential community that is now The Community of the Franciscan Way and consists of three houses.

Miller is a priest in the Episcopal Church and holds a Ph.D. in religion from Duke.

The chapel’s Humanitarian Service Award aims to recognize individuals with a commitment to service and simplicity and is inspired by the lives of two Duke professors: Dr. George R. Parkerson Jr. and the late C. Eric Lincoln.