Midtown: Community

Soapstone UMC is celebrating 175 years

When members of Soapstone United Methodist Church arrive for an anniversary service on Sunday, everyone will probably arrive in a car. The church’s first service was so long ago that worshippers arrived by foot and horse-drawn buggy. Many even rode their horses to church.

Soapstone United Methodist Church was founded 175 years ago, in 1837. Church founders decided to call the new church Soapstone after the unique soft stone found in the earth that is often carved into beautiful things.

The church has grown from a small rural church to a congregation of more than 1,000 members. Worshippers now gather at 12837 Norwood Road, but the Soapstone UMC Chapel stands at 10301 Old Creedmoor Road, where the founding members used to meet each Sunday.

While many things are different from that first Sunday, the church has kept a strong tradition of serving the community and reaching out to others through the years.

“Our main focus is to attempt to be like Jesus and live like Jesus by helping anyone in need and share the good news of the Gospel,” said Debbie Allen, director of adult ministries and missions. “We want to reach out to the community, and to us, the community includes everywhere from 30 feet off the property to all the way to Africa.”

But the path to becoming a thriving church wasn’t always an easy one for the members. After more than 100 years of worshipping, the church doors closed in 1939 because of the WWII. Membership had also declined as older members passed away and younger members moved closer to Raleigh.

But 11 years later, locals rallied together and reopened the church. The church went through another downturn in the 1970s, and members spent weeks knocking on every house in the area to reach out to their neighbors. Their efforts paid off, and membership began to steadily grow.

“Over the years, our church members had the foresight to know that this location was a good place for a church, and they won’t let the church close,” Allen said. “That took faith to know that one day we would be in a prime location to meet the needs of the community.”

The church is holding a picnic for current and past members of Soapstone UMC on Sunday, Sept. 30. Visit www.soapstoneumc.org for more information.

Coffeehouse for special-needs adults

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church is having its monthly coffeehouse for special-needs adults from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, at the church, 7000 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh. The String Peddlers, an acoustic band with folk and folk-rock influences, will provide entertainment as attendees socialize and enjoy refreshments. Transportation is available to this free event. For more information, call 919-848-1573 or cindybdavis@gmail.com.

Eastern Star Church Family Fun Day

Eastern Star Church is holding a Family Fun Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at the church, 1412 Poole Road, Raleigh. The day will include games, food and fun. For more information, call Pastor Crowder at 919-423-1948.

Speaker Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor, author of “A New Way to be Human: Seven Spiritual Pathways for Becoming Fully Alive” will speak at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at Unity Church of the Triangle, 118 S. Person St., Raleigh. Taylor will talk about his friendship with Desmond Tutu and his experience fighting against apartheid in South Africa. For more information on the free event, call 919-832-8324.

Free outdoor movie

Hope Reins, a Christian equine ministry for at-risk kids, rescheduled its movie showing of “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” because of rain to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, outdoors at the Hope Reins farm at Creedmoor Road and I-540. Admission is free. Popcorn, snacks and beverages will be for sale. Gates open at 6 p.m., and attendees must be seated by 7:15 p.m. Visit www.hopereinsraleigh.org for more information and to register.

Hope Lutheran HopeFest

Hope Lutheran Church is holding HopeFest from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 3525 Rogers Road, Wake Forest. The day includes face painting, hayrides, crafts, scavenger hunts, pony rides, music, bounce houses, a pie contest and a silent auction. Activities are free; food will be for sale. For more information, visit www.hopelutheranwf.org.

Jazz Vespers concert series

Adult and high school musicians will be performing as part of the Jazz Vespers series at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at Joy of Discovery Lutheran Church, 750 King Richard Road, Raleigh. The concert is musical director Jay Wright’s last performance with the church. For more information, call 919-760-5482 or visit www.joyofdiscovery.org.

Free health screenings

The Seventh-day Adventist Church of Raleigh is holding its free annual Children’s Natural Health Expo from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at 4805 Dillard Drive, Raleigh. The event promotes healthy lifestyle choices for children through activities such as health screenings, fitness activities and preventative health care information. Nutritionist Pam Popper will deliver the keynote address on “Optimal Nutrition for Kids: The Effects of Diet on Obesity, Behavior and Academic Achievement.” For information, visit www.raleighadventisthealthexpo.blogspot.com.

Southbridge Fellowship Church events

Southbridge Fellowship Church is holding its annual Southbridge Serves event on Saturday, Oct 5, and Sunday, Oct 6. Throughout the weekend, volunteers will help others through groups such as the Raleigh Rescue Mission, Durham Rescue Mission and the Raleigh Fire Department. To see volunteer opportunities, visit www.southbridgeserves2012.eventbrite.com.

The church recently unveiled photos of its building plans and has a goal of raising $4 million. The church also launched a campaign called 10x, with a goal of sharing the story of Jesus with 10,000 people in the next 10 years. Each member of the congregation is encouraged to love, serve and share their faith with one person a year for the next 10 years. For information , visit www.southbridgefellowship.com or call 919-789-9955.

St. John’s Baptist

to sell barbecue

St. John’s Baptist Church is serving barbecue plates from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, at the church, 1615 Oberlin Road, Raleigh. Plates are $7.50 and include barbecue pork, fried chicken, boiled potatoes, green beans, cole slaw, corn sticks and dessert. Proceeds support the church’s mission project. Barbecue will also be available by the pound for $8. Lunch delivery is available inside the Beltline for orders of five plates or more. For information, call 919-832-5134, email church@stjohnsbaptist.com or visit www.stjohnsbaptist.com.

Edenton Street UMC Great Day of Service

Edenton Street United Methodist Church’s Great Day of Service took place Saturday, Sept. 8, drawing 500 volunteers. Teams participated meal packing with Stop Hunger Now, preparing gleaning bags for The Society of St. Andrew, cleaning Raleigh Rescue Mission’s preschool, making care packages for those serving in the military, working on a Habitat for Humanity project, and yard work at the Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network.