Durham News: Opinion

Baptists see room to grow in Durham; Binkley-Barbee’s yard sale Saturday

Flo Johnston
Flo Johnston Chris Seward

A survey conducted by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has identified five areas in Durham that suggest the need for a new church, preferably a Baptist one.

One of these areas is on West Club Boulevard where Dan Johnson, a 30-year-old church “planter,” supported by the Cooperative Program of the Baptist State Convention, is already heading a growing congregation that meets in the church building once occupied by Westwood Baptist, later the Journey Church.

Johnson began with about eight people, a number that has recently grown to 50.

“We partner with the Southern Baptist Convention, but we look like a contemporary church,” he said.

The vision for the church, called Mosaic, is to be multicultural, multigenerational and to cut across all economic and social classes.

“We want the congregation to look like the population of Durham,” said Johnson, one of more than 100 Baptist church-planting missionaries at work across the state. In addition to this ministry, Johnson is a volunteer chaplain with the Durham Police Department.

A part of the church’s ministry is to reach out to the surrounding community, Johnson said, in this case, an upscale, historic neighborhood with tree-lined streets and beautiful older homes. Mosaic does this by making space available to community groups like the Durham Jazz Orchestra, providing rehearsal space, and to neighborhood gatherings and committee meetings. The city tax assessment office, for example, has held informational meetings at the church.

As a way of reaching families with children, the church offers such events as Easter Egg hunts at Oval Park and big Halloween parties on its front lawn, serving smores to all who stop by.

In 2015, the Baptist State Convention’s Church Planting Team helped start 83 new churches across the state, with another 22 congregations voting to affiliate with the SBC, according to a report from the convention office.

This means on average a new church was begun somewhere in the state every 4.4 days, with these churches collectively reporting 7,595 people attending weekly services.

Studies conducted in recent years, show that 75 percent of new North Carolina Baptist churches are still functioning after four years, better than the national average, according to Mark Gray, who heads new church planting for the state convention.

The report notes: “Our convention figures the state of North Carolina has about 5.8 million residents who do not have a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ. Roughly three out of four residents do not attend any church. When we talk about our state mission field, this is what we mean.”

Durham’s Mosaic Church at 2031 W. Club Blvd. meets at 10:30 a.m. Sundays and is open and welcoming to visitors.

The church’s website describes the congregation this way: “We are a come-as-you-are church. No matter what kind of car you drive, or don’t drive, or the political bumper stickers you have, there is no need to pretend or fake anything. The big rule is No Perfect People Allowed.”

Binkley-Barbee’s yard sale

Folks at Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church in Chapel Hill and Barbee’s Chapel Baptist Church in Orange County are now collecting items for their bi-annual yard sale, a huge event set for Saturday, Aug. 13, on Binkley’s campus at 1712 Willow Drive, the corner of Fordham Boulevard and Willow Drive next to University Place.

Hours for the sale are from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This cooperative effort began 24 years ago when the Rev. Linda Jordan, Binkley pastor, and Bishop Gene Hatley at Barbee’s Chapel came together to build a joint racial reconciliation ministry.

“We have held the joint yard sale 10 times,” said RuthAnn Ross of Binkley. “Both churches are represented in all aspects of the sale and the profits from the event are divided equally and given to recipients that each church selects. Three times the recipient of the profits was Habitat for Humanity where the two congregations work together to build homes locally.”

The upcoming sale is expected to fill 18 rooms at the church. It will feature clothing for men, women and children, furniture, jewelry, kitchen items, small electrical appliances, garden tools and plants; recreation equipment and books.

Recipients of the profits will be Eyes Ears Nose and Paws assistance-dog organization, Family Alliance and Esther House.

Anyone with items to donate should call the church office at 919-942-4964 for drop-off hours and other information.

The sale will not accept large appliances, shoes, mattresses, electronic items (computers, TVs, etc.) pianos and sofa beds. Donations should be in good condition and are tax deductible.

Summit service project

One of the area’s largest volunteer projects, sponsored by The Summit Church, is under way this week in the Triangle.

Service events, taking place during the week in more than 20 locations, will include landscaping, painting, blood drives and assembling school supplies. The Summit began this annual project in 2005.

The Summit is one of the area’s largest churches with more than 9,000 weekly attendees gathering in nine locations around the Triangle. Events are set for Thursday through Saturday in Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill and Wake Forest.

The Triangle-wide drive to collect 3,000 backpacks filled with school supplies ended with block parties in Wake and Durham counties on Tuesday night. The backpacks will be distributed to local schools.

Contact Flo Johnston at 910-361-4135 or fjohnston314@gmail.com.