Midtown: Community

Faith in Focus: A tour of downtown Raleigh’s churches

Raleigh’s downtown churches will open up their sanctuary doors this weekend and allow visitors to stroll on in and stay a while.

The fourth annual Historic Church Walk is set for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Eight churches that are located near the state Capitol have joined together to create a group that is known as the Community of Historic Churches in Downtown Raleigh.

Their church walk is a self-guided and self-paced event. There will be greeters at each location to answer questions and to point out items of interest about each church.

Balloons and signs will mark each participating church, and every stop will also offer brochures about the buildings and the congregations that are housed inside.

The churches that make up the group and are participating in the walk are: Christ Church, Church of the Good Shepherd, Edenton Street United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church on Salisbury Street, First Baptist Church on Wilmington Street, First Presbyterian Church, Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Paul AME Church.

Visitors to the church walk are treated to an up-close look at the history of Raleigh.

“We’ve seen people who are new to the area and are curious after driving by the churches,” said Margaret Park, a member of Church of the Good Shepherd on Hillsborough Street. “There are so many big modern buildings in Raleigh and so many people who did not grow up in Raleigh and don’t know there is so much history right there around Capitol Square.

“Raleigh is unusual in that it was a planned city from the beginning and everything is in that grid around the Capitol in the square there. If you think about what it was like 200 years ago it is pretty thrilling to know there were that many churches so active so early in our city’s history.”

The architecture of these downtown churches is varied, as are the denominations represented. Their collaborative efforts on the tour and other projects have come about because the churches have found they share many common ministries and missions.

“We have so many things we share in common,” Park said. “Even if we worship differently, we believe the same.”

And each of the eight downtown congregations celebrates Raleigh’s history while working toward an even stronger future.

“We hope we are keeping Christ alive within the streets of downtown Raleigh,” Park said. “Because he is walking around all the time and we want to make sure people know that and we rejoice in that.”

Bake sale and barbecue

There are plenty of good things to eat this weekend at Highland United Methodist Church. The women’s group will sponsor a bake sale, and the men will sponsor a barbecue from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.

Eat-in dining or curbside pickup is available. Food is provided by Stoke and Smoke BBQ, and each plate features pork barbecue, boiled potatoes, cole slaw, hush puppies and sweet tea for $9. You can top off the meal with one of the desserts being provided by the women of the church at a bake sale.

The front lawn of Highland will be covered in pumpkins that are for sale during the event.

Highland United Methodist Church is located at 1901 Ridge Road, near the corner of Lake Boone Trail and Ridge Road in Raleigh.

Proceeds from the bake sale go to Backpack Buddies in Wake County, a program than ensures that at-risk children leave school with a backpack full of food, and Highland’s Community Garden, which provides hundreds of pounds of fresh vegetables each year to the Food Bank of North Carolina.

Church celebrates 140th birthday

Raleigh’s Tabernacle Baptist Church is celebrating its 140th homecoming on Sunday. The worship service at 10 a.m. will be followed by a celebratory lunch. RSVP through the church office to attend the meal.

Tabernacle Baptist began as Raleigh’s Second Baptist Church downtown in 1874. For more than a century, the church grew there and relocated to 8304 Leesville Road in 2001.

Carla Turchetti compiles Faith in Focus each week. Email her with details of upcoming events at carla.turchetti.writer@gmail.com.

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