Midtown: Community

Highland UMC shares its abundance

Week after week, heads of lettuce harvested from Highland UMC’s victory garden sat unwanted in boxes.

Many of the students from the Wake Tech ESL program – who had class at the church and were invited to take the harvest home after working in the garden – were from other countries and were unaccustomed to salad. Once Highland members realized the issue, they held a tasting at the next session of Wednesdays in the Garden, which includes lunch, a lesson and time working in the garden.

The next week, students headed home with armfuls of lettuce to feed their families.

The church started the victory garden several years ago, but found that very few of the ESL students came to the Saturday work sessions. So this spring, volunteers started Wednesdays in the Garden for students who were already at the church for morning classes. Now each week more than 20 people show up to help.

“Seeing so many people come to help each week has been an answer to our prayers,” Wolcott said. “We just want everyone that comes to America to feel welcome, safe and have access to good food. Many of the students are refugees from terrible situations and have been through so much. It’s wonderful to be able to share our abundance with them.”

Wednesdays in the Garden starts off each week with a hearty lunch followed by a short lesson on gardening and related vocabulary. Volunteers and students then head to the garden to plant, weed and harvest. Participants who have worked in the garden for five weeks are invited to take home produce. Any leftover vegetables are donated to the Plant a Row Charity.

“Several students actually donate their allotment each week to charity to help feed others,” Wolcott said. “They have really embraced the idea of giving to others.”

Many of the students initially show up for the free lunch but end up becoming hooked on the camaraderie and gardening. “Lunch gives us a chance to sit down and talk about our children and families. It’s turned into a special time for both the students and volunteers,” Wolcott said.

But lunch for a crowd every week can add up, so the church is looking for businesses, restaurants and other churches to serve as sponsors.

Songs of Love, a concert to raise money for the program, will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 19, in the sanctuary at the church, at 1901 Ridge Road, Raleigh. Tenors George Deaton and Wade Henderson, soprano Melinda Wilkinson and pianist Thomas Warburton will present solos, duets and ensembles by Johann Straus II, Franz Lehár, Edvard Grieg, Victor Herbert, Sigmund Romberg, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jerome Kern and Cole Porter, among others.

The concert is free, but a love offering will be collected. Money will be used to provide lunches, gloves, tools and a whiteboard to help the students learn more vocabulary words. For more information or to donate, call 919-851-1255.

Women’s Life speaker

The director of Women’s Life at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary will speak about the seminary’s programs at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Raleigh First Assembly, Room 308, 3249 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh. The event is held by the Believers Community, which provides social opportunities for Christian singles. For more information, contact ncbelieverscommunity@gmail.com.

Hillyer Community Chorus concert

The Hillyer Community Chorus will perform “Gloria” by Antonio Vivaldi and “Cantata 140 - Sleepers Awake” by J.S. Bach at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at Hillyer Memorial Christian Church, 718 Hillsborough St., Raleigh. The chorus of more than 60 people is directed by William Rashleigh and will be accompanied by members of local symphony leagues. The concert is free and a reception will follow. For more information, visit www.hillyerchurch.org or call 919-832-7112.

Raleigh Christian Women’s Connection

Inspirational speaker Anne Curry will present a talk titled Momma Said There Would Be Days Like This at a lunch meeting of the Raleigh Christian Women’s Connection from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, at the N.C. State University Club, 4200 Hillsborough St., Raleigh. A talk titled Campbell Road Garden Center: Helpful Tips on Beautifying Your Garden will also be presented. The cost is $16 and free nursery is available. Reservations are required. To register, call 919-337-8003 or email rcwcreservations@gmail.com.

Fourth Saturday Breakfast Book Club

Unity Church of Raleigh will have its Fourth Saturday Breakfast Book Club from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 25, at the church, 11101 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh. The book club will discuss “Christian Healing” by Charles Fillmore, which offers readers basic principles of healing. Books are $14.95 with a 10 percent discount for attendees. A love offering will be collected. For more information, email ucrprograms@earthlink.net or visit www.unitychurchofraleigh.org.

Do you have some faith news to share? Send it to correspondent Jennifer Gregory at jennifergregory@nc.rr.com. For events, please give us two to three weeks’ notice.