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Meet A Local: Doug Wakeman

Each month as part of our Everybody In initiative, we’ll introduce you to someone from the community who has said, “I’m in!” They’ll share a bit of their story and how The Local Church helps them connect with God and one another, adds meaning to their life, and equips them to “love where they are.”


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WHO ARE YOU, DOUG?

I am a father of 2 and a grandfather of 3. Environmental analyst/activist. Economist. Retired professor. Avid cyclist, photographer, boater, cook. Restorer of (old) bikes and (even older) cast iron skillets. New Jersey native, but in North Carolina since 1974 and Chatham since 1993. I’m also a rescuer of turtles and a Methodist-in-progress.

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO CHATHAM COUNTY?

My work was in Raleigh and my family/social life in Chapel Hill. This corner of Chatham was convenient to both, yet allowed me to live in the woods and close to water, far from suburban sprawl. After a mere 26 years, it's definitely home.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THIS COMMUNITY?

I love the beauty of the woods and the diverse critters that come through my very green yard. I love the human diversity: Chatham attracts many and varied artists, artisans, craftpersons, musicians, free spirits of every kind, and many who fall outside society's neat boundaries. It remains true to its rural roots, and artisinal agriculture is actually expanding. The spiritual life is both rich (seems like half the country roads are named for churches) and diverse (the Zen Center near Pittsboro is about 50 years old). And especially this: Chatham County is a place where people take care of each other.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SPOT IN PITTSBORO?

My favorite local spot is Jordan Lake. I live only four miles from the ramps at Vista Point and can have a boat or canoe in the water in a matter of minutes. I used to fish a lot, but these days I grab the camera and chase ospreys, bald eagles, and great blue herons; my kind of therapy! In town, I'm most likely to be at Chatham Marketplace, our local co-op grocery store. It's a great place to connect with an eclectic group of friends, shoppers, and employees, and a great place to support local producers and to buy great food!

HOW DOES THE LOCAL CHURCH HELP YOU LOVE WHERE YOU ARE?

The Local Church provides focus, or specificity, and thus helps me organize my energy. The gatherings provide specific times and places to focus on spiritual matters, in the company of others doing likewise. Our discussions and activities (like the Take and Eat Food Pantry and our support for Chatham Habitat for Humanity) bring into clearer focus the specific needs of our community and how we can help meet those needs. And all of this has introduced me to new friends who care enough to take care of where they are.

HOW HAS THE LOCAL CHURCH ADDED VALUE TO YOUR LIFE?

I've met a lot of really nice people, who are both fun to be with, and great partners for scriptural exploration. It's helped me pay more attention to the unmet needs in our community, and to join in doing something about them. It has given me a sense of being part of my local community, a sense that was sorely lacking during my years of commuting away. And, the real fun: cooking for Local Tables enables me to follow Jesus' instruction to feed his sheep, on a regular basis. Another great form of therapy!

WHAT MAKES THE LOCAL CHURCH COMMUNITY UNIQUE?

Three things stand out: First, it is truly a welcoming community, for any and all. Second, being a brand-new community, nobody says “But we've always done it this way." Third, lacking any specific physical home, The Local Church is anywhere and everywhere its people are! Kind of like the Kingdom of God...

LAST QUESTION. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RAISINS?

On their own they're not so bad. But when I bite into a cookie, expecting chocolate chips but finding raisins instead, the disappointment is both instant and deep.


Brent LevyComment
Everybody In Sunday Recap

On Sunday, June 16, our anchor congregation, Christ United Methodist in Chapel Hill, featured The Local Church at all three morning worship services. Because The Local Church is a new campus (or expression) of Christ UMC, it is a right and good thing to take time every so often to offer updates on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re headed. After all, along with the Office of New Faith Communities for the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, Christ UMC is one of the key supporters of this movement. In other words, The Local Church wouldn’t be a thing without Christ UMC’s generous support, forward thinking, and God-sized vision!

So on Sunday (which also happened to be Trinity Sunday), we had the joy of worshipping together as one church family! Alli Burks led worship at the 8:30 worship service and offered special music at the 9:45 and 11 services, we celebrated the baptism of Elias Iglesia, and Pastor Ben (Lead Pastor of Christ UMC) and Pastor Brent shared about how the connection between Christ UMC and The Local Church connects with what we know to be true when we think about God as Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We’ve included the audio of the Sunday sermon below if you’d like to hear the conversation between Pastors Ben and Brent and learn more about the connection between The Local Church and Christ UMC.

Brent LevyComment
My First Rodeo

This is my first rodeo.

I learned a lot in Divinity School. I learned a new language and vocabulary. A new way of seeing the world. A new way of engaging the Bible. I was changed and transformed by stories of the matriarchs and patriarchs of our faith.

But I did not learn how to create and launch a fundraising initiative. It was not part of the paradigm. Not a requirement for ordination.

So as it relates to that, this is my first rodeo.

And while this may be my first rodeo, I've been blessed with so many others who have stepped in to share their wisdom and voice and experience (#tbtg). It’s been a true community effort of dreaming and designing how we would roll out this initiative and communicate our needs and point to a beautiful, God-sized dream of what’s to come.

But let me tell you: A few weeks ago, when I first hit send on the email announcing Everybody In, I had all. of. the. feels. At least for me, it’s a vulnerable thing to ask for financial support — to put myself out there on behalf of The Local Church. But it wasn't just that.

I worried you’d think we were being greedy. I worried it was too soon to ask. I worried your suspicions about church and the institution would be confirmed — as if you were sitting there on your phone or iPad or computer thinking, “Ah, well, there it is. I knew this day would come.”

And maybe you did feel that way. But I hope you’ve also read these letters or listened to enough podcasts or been around The Local Church long enough to know that that’s not our mojo. Instead, our mojo is to point to a future in our community filled with God’s radical, reckless love and scandalous grace and barrier-breaking belonging.

It's the type of community Rachel wrote about.

Saturday was the funeral for thinker and writer and overall amazing human being, Rachel Held Evans, who died last month at age 37. Rachel’s wisdom and witness gave voice to stirrings in the souls of so many who had questions about their faith and wondered if they had a place in the story of God. Natalie and I had the great joy of meeting Rachel and her husband Dan a few years ago — a time we will cherish forever. (Curious to read some of Rachel's work? Start with Faith Unraveled or Searching for Sunday, and then try A Year of Biblical Womanhood.)

At her funeral, Rachel’s friend, Nadia Bolz-Weber, preached and offered the benediction. The benediction incorporated words that Rachel, herself, had written in her too-brief, yet prolific, career, and it brought me to tears. We're talking ugly cry status. I couldn’t help but think, “This. This is it. This is the dream. This is why we do what we do.”

Here is the benediction:

Blessed are the agnostics. Blessed are they who doubt. Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. Blessed are the preschoolers who cut in line at communion. Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you. 

Blessed are those whom no one else notices. The kids who sit alone at middle-school lunch tables. The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex workers and the night-shift street sweepers. The closeted. The teens who have to figure out ways to hide the new cuts on their arms. Blessed are the meek. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you. 

Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like. Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried. Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else. Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.” Blessed are those who mourn. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you. 

I imagine Jesus standing here blessing us because that is our Lord’s nature. This Jesus cried at his friend’s tomb, turned the other cheek, and forgave those who hung him on a cross. He was God’s Beatitude — God’s blessing to the weak in a world that admires only the strong.

Jesus invites us into a story bigger than ourselves and our imaginations, yet we all get to tell that story with the scandalous particularity of this moment and this place. We are storytelling creatures because we are fashioned in the image of a storytelling God. May we never neglect that gift. May we never lose our love for telling the story. Amen.

You're ugly crying now, too, aren't you?

So sure, this may be my first rodeo, but y'all, it’s worth the ride, because I believe this ☝️is our mojo. I believe this is God’s dream for The Local Church as a faith community — as it continues to grow and flourish — with God’s help through you. We have a story to tell in this community and in this world. And maybe it does seem too soon. Maybe it is awkward. But I pray you’ll commit and invest to help this dream come to life, because here's the thing: I believe you’ll be transformed along the way, too.

If you have already made a commitment, thank you x 1,000. I am filled with gratitude and humbled that you’ve said yes. And, as always, if I can respond to questions or offer clarity or if you have suggestions on something you’d do differently, I am humbly here and open and willing to receive. Reply to this email, or let’s set a time to get together.

Or you can ask me at the Everybody In Launch Party (!!!) this Saturday evening.

I look forward to seeing you there. Until then, love where you are.

with you and for you,
Brent

Brent LevyComment
Meet Daniel Jackson

We’re so, so excited to welcome Daniel Jackson as our new Duke Divinity planter-in-training/intern this summer! Here’s a little about Daniel in his own words…

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Hi Local Church fam!

My name is Daniel Jackson, and this summer I get the privilege of being the full-time intern at The Local Church! I am an upcoming third-year Master of Divinity student at Duke Divinity School alongside my wife, Sherei, who is also a third year in the program. I love music (playing or listening), playing board games (I am currently inventing one... ask me about it to cue a nerdy rant), watching the Office, and getting outside with my dog Avery. I am also thrilled for the arrival of our first child this July. We are in for an adventure this final year of school (please pray for us and share wisdom!). 

I have worked in ministry full-time since being married in 2011, and am excited to continue in a career of ministry with the United Methodist Church as I pursue ordination as Elder. Sherei and I are members of the Western North Carolina Conference of the UMC, and are currently in communication to plant a church there after graduating, which we have felt called to in the years of ministry leading up to Divinity School. Working with a new church plant is just one of the reasons why I am so excited about this summer!

I have heard awesome things about what God has been up to at The Local Church, and am eager to step in. Now that you know a little bit about me, I would love to get to know you! Please reach out anytime and we can grab coffee or lunch. 

Looking forward to it,
Daniel Jackson
daniel.jackson1@duke.edu

Brent LevyComment
Calling All Musicians!

a note from our worship leader, Alli Burks

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Friends,

The Local Church is preparing for weekly worship services, and it is so fun to dream about what this will be like! One of the aspects of worship that I am most looking forward to (aside from Brent’s incredible and inspiring sermons of course!) is the music. How powerful it can be when we can all join our voices in song and praise! I have seen music break down language and cultural barriers and bring people together in some of the best and toughest of times. I am so looking forward to getting to grow closer to each other and closer in Christ in this way.

We are in search of locals who share this passion for music to join together in leading our congregation each week in song. We are looking for anyone who plays an instrument, be it guitar, drums, flute, voice, spoons, etc., etc. and feels called to offer these gifts to this church and this community by being a part of our music team.

We are not searching for perfection; we care less about experience and more about authenticity and a willingness to learn, grow, and share musical offerings each week in worship. We are seeking those with open and creative hearts and minds who are eager to make a joyful noise!

As for style, shape, sound, etc. of this music team... that is to be determined and to be decided together. As a team we will commit to times of practice, times of prayer, and times of reflection as we serve God, serve each other, and serve our community.

So I want to know: Are you interested in being a part of this team? What is your instrument of choice? Are you open to sharing your musical gifts in this way? If you want to know more about what it might be like to join this team, I would love to hear from you and meet with you. Fill out the form below.

If you think you might be interested (or know someone else that is) and want to fiddle around with us (p.s. looking for a fiddle!), stay ~tuned~ for details on an upcoming casual jam session and gathering of musical folk! Starting this summer I hope to begin holding practices and building a repertoire of our favorite hymns and worship songs.

Email me, find me on Facebook, give me a call, play me a song! I want to hear from you!

Feeling hopeful about all the possibilities,
Alli

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Brent LevyComment
A Summer Rhythm for Local Tables
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Local Tables are the heart and soul of The Local Church. Read about what they are and why they matter here. Because the summer brings with it new and different rhythms with people coming and going, busy with camps and sports and reunions and all other kinds of good things, we are also changing our Local Table rhythm some, too.

To simplify our summer season of Local Tables, we’re excited to introduce what we’re calling Pop-Up Local Tables.

It’s everything you love about Local Tables — just with a different rhythm for the summer — "popping up" in a different location throughout Chatham County every two weeks or so. (We’re really hoping to take advantage of the weather and some outdoor spaces!) We’ll keep you posted on locations as we nail them down.

Each Pop-Up Local Table this summer will be a potluck to give our amazing food team a break, so be sure to bring something to share — even if it’s just yourself. We'll kick things off with our Everybody In Launch Party on June 8. The full schedule is below. Add all dates to your calendar here.


Saturday, June 8, 4:30 pm
19 Timber Creek Path, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
(Everybody In Launch Party)

Tuesday, June 18, 6 pm — Location TBD
Sunday, June 30, 5 pm — Location TBD
Wednesday, July 10, 6 pm — Location TBD
Sunday, July 21, 9:30 am — Location TBD
Thursday, August 1, 6 pm — Location TBD
Sunday, August 11, 5 pm — Location TBD

Brent LevyComment
A Farewell from Stephan
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Friends, I already miss you so much! There are so many moments I will hold on to forever. The nights and mornings I have spent with many of you at a Local Table, growing together and in Christ, were amazing. The times we gathered at the Root Cellar or House of Hops to hear what others are doing were so uplifting. The many lunches I shared with you were full of joy and inspiration. No matter the setting, you worked so hard to encourage me on this journey at Duke Divinity School and in church planting as you’re practicing it. 

Not only did you each invest so wonderfully in me, you went above and beyond to love on my family, too. I cannot thank you enough for making my wife feel so warm and welcomed. And I certainly cannot say enough about how you became the village of support as we welcomed our daughter, Gemma, into the world. 

Just as Gemma has grown over these last 8 months, I have grown and learned so much through my time with you. You have showed me what Christ-like love and hospitality and generosity can look like, and I cannot wait to practice these things in the next local space I move to. 

Please know that you are always in my heart and prayers. I am so looking forward to hearing more of the AWEsome work that you are doing for God in and for Chatham County. 

Grace and peace be with you all, until we meet again.
Stephan Margeson


A Blessing for the Margeson Family

(adapted from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals)

God, you have called us into being through love.
You have joined us to one another in love.
How good and pleasant it is
When your people dwell together in unity.

Shine your light upon your people
That we can see the glory of eternal life.
Grant Stephan, Sierra, and Gemma the strength
To carry your blessing from this place to their next.
May they be at home in any land,
For all their earth is yours.
And, with their hopes set on your coming glory in the world,
live also as aliens in all lands.
May the lamp of your word
Guide their feet on the unsure paths of life.

Our lives are but a breath,
But our breaths are drawn from your divine Spirit.
You have created us as walking paradoxes.
Specs of dust and divine-image bearers.
We are constantly restless,
Until we rest in you.

Grant Stephan, Sierra, and Gemma a deeper fullness
Of being and spirit,
By carrying our memory with them
in the coming journey.
May their faces be fuller in glory and joy,
Now bearing new shape,
As our faces transform and supplement one another.

Go in the peace of Christ to love and serve the Lord,
Thanks be to God.

Brent LevyComment
Meet A Local: Sara Tiegreen
 

Each month as part of our Everybody In initiative, we’ll introduce you to someone from the community who has said, “I’m in!” They’ll share a bit of their story and how The Local Church helps them connect with God and one another, adds meaning to their life, and equips them to “love where they are.”

 

Who are you, Sara?

Sara with her husband Josh

Sara with her husband Josh

I was born in Tyler, TX, moved to Southern Illinois (maternal side of family are farmers) at age 9, and have been traveling for education and new experiences ever since (Greenville, SC; Philadelphia, PA; Tulsa, OK; Durham, NC). I met my husband, Josh, in graduate school, and we came to the Triangle in 2008 for our internship year in clinical psychology. We have two kiddos — Fiona (age 9) and Simon (almost 6). I commute for work several days a week, so I enjoy listening to podcasts in the car, and I love to be outside in nature as much as possible. I became an avid fan of yoga 2+ years ago, and if you’ve met my husband you might notice that I appreciate a good sense of humor and seek laughter on a regular basis.

What brought you to Chatham County?

We decided to move back to the Midwest from our home in Durham in 2012. Josh is a KU Jayhawk and has family in the Kansas City area. After two years land-locked with less than ideal weather, we were ready to head back to the Triangle and declare North Carolina our forever home. We landed in the Briar Chapel neighborhood in June 2015 and love having the best of all worlds — small town local living in Pittsboro, college town of Chapel Hill, urban fun in Durham, etc.

What do you love about this community?

We still use all of the Triangle due to commuting to work in all directions, but we appreciate the mix of rural simplicity and community progress as we head toward home each day. The natural beauty all around us is breathtaking, and the opportunities for building fresh community in local establishments are refreshing. Our daughter takes theater classes at the Pittsboro Youth Theater, and our son just started martial arts classes at ATA Martial Arts. The fact that the activities are less competitive and more focused on the learning and exploring process feels different from similar settings in more metropolitan areas. Plus there are farms with fresh produce and animals to enjoy just around the corner! You can’t beat the unique mixture of urban amenities, small town connections, and natural beauty/harvest.

What is your favorite spot in Pittsboro?

This is a tough question. We are foodies, so deep in the heart of Pittsboro I really like Small B&B Café and the newer Postal Fish Company. Our kids would say they love the public library, and as a family, we enjoy Fearrington Village for a stroll and a bite to eat, especially when The Roost is open for pizza, music, and beer. McIntyre Books is the sweetest little bookstore that I wish I could live in on rainy afternoons.

How does The Local Church help you Love Where You Are?

It is less about location for me, and more about creating community and appreciating the community right in front of you. Wherever you are is a special place (and I’m biased to say we have an extra special place by being in North Carolina, the Triangle, and in the crosshairs of Pittsboro and surrounding towns in particular). We have so many “transplants” and locals in this physical location; it is a beautiful blend of cultural opportunity and The Local Church celebrates it all and reminds me to keep love as the central tenet in all that we share and do.

How has The Local Church added value to your life?

The Local Church has brought new friendships, open and thought-provoking discussions, and a sense of community to our family’s front door. Literally, we took a leap of faith and hosted some of the first Local Tables, and it was an investment that enriched our family with lessons in acceptance and trust in the “showing up” and “loving your neighbor” values that we want to prioritize as a family. It was harder for us to trust that we were “good enough” hosts than it was to open our home to potential “strangers.” The rest is magical history and culminated in our children’s baptisms in our kitchen, with great new “family-friends.”

What makes The Local Church community unique?

The Local Church has been a gathering of reliably meaningful interactions without a rule book or preconceived assumptions. It is a diverse community who strives for more diversity that meets me and others where we are in life without asking that I or anyone else be anything other than our genuine, authentic selves. It is a place for exploring theology and faith, questioning past learning as part of the spiritual journey, and developing community for sharing life’s highs and lows.

Last question. How do you feel about raisins?

Not a fan… unless we consider wine to be “raisins”. 😉


Brent LevyComment
Introducing "Everybody In"

Dear friends,

As I write this, we’ve just wrapped another amazing season of Local Tables, reflecting this week on the “Walk to Emmaus” and how Jesus was made known in the breaking of bread. We’ve been at it for over fourteen months now — a bread-breaking experiment that has grown into a full-on movement.

That’s fourteen months of embracing the awkward and gathering and celebrating and sharing food and stories and lives.

Fourteen months of seeing and knowing and loving one another, praying for one another and the world and those we care for.

Fourteen months of sharpening our vision, tuning our hearts, seeing Jesus in places we didn’t before, and watching over one another in love.

By God’s grace, it’s been a beautiful beginning — nothing short of amazing, and I thank my God every time I remember you.

But we’re just getting started.

Today, I’m writing to let you know about a brand new initiative for The Local Church seeking both your commitment and investment in all God’s up to through this fledgling movement of love. It’s called EVERYBODY IN.

Everybody In is not only a statement of identity for our faith community — of who belongs at The Local Church (say it with me now: “everybody in”…), but it’s also an invitation to partner with us toward all God has in store.

In other words, if this movement is going to keep growing toward vibrant and inclusive weekly worship with a thriving physical space dedicated to the flourishing of the whole community, and if we’re going to keep connecting with more people who will experience belonging and love with no strings attached and grace on grace on grace, it’s going to take, yep, everybody in.

I guess what I’m trying to say is… we can’t do this without you.

So here’s the ask. You knew it was coming. I’m just going to put it out there.

<deep breath>

Are you in?

Would you consider making a financial commitment to The Local Church for the remainder of 2019 and beyond? Every commitment and every gift — large or small, recurring or one-time — is significant. It matters. And it makes a huge difference.

As you consider your commitment, we are also inviting you to consider percentage giving. Historically, people of faith have given a tithe, or ten percent, of their income back to God. This practice is rooted in scripture (Genesis 28:10–22, for example). But here’s the thing: If we’re going to encourage you to tithe, we have to practice, too. To that end, we’re tithing 10% of everything we raise during the Everybody In campaign back into the community — to a different local non-profit organization each month. To kick things off in May, we’re giving back to Chatham Habitat for Humanity!

So maybe you’re in because you believe in our mission (which is really God’s mission) to “love where you are.” Maybe you’re in because a podcast or a Local Table or a new friendship has added value to your life. Maybe you’re in because you want others to experience a fresh way of encountering the risen Christ. Or maybe you’re in — cheering from the sidelines — on behalf of a friend or family member or neighbor (or stranger) who is excited about this movement. Whatever it is, thanks be to God for you. You are part of this!

If you want more details, you can read about the whole Everybody In campaign here. We’re trying to be as open and transparent as possible, but if you do have questions or comments or need clarity or think we’re missing something huge, I’d love to talk with you by email or phone or buy you a cup of coffee.

And one more thing: Looking for any reason to party, I hope you’ll join us for an Everybody In Kickoff Celebration on the evening of Saturday, June 8, featuring food and games and a big announcement. We’ll share more details very soon, but for now… save the date!

In the meantime, I truly hope you will consider making a financial commitment to The Local Church — partnering with us on this Everybody In campaign. Because everybody includes you, too.

Brent LevyComment
Easter Recap!

Happy Easter, friends… Christ is risen!

What a gift it was to celebrate with you on Bynum Bridge Sunday morning, witnessing to the resurrection with rocks crying out, trees clapping their hands, and even a bald eagle flying overhead. If you couldn’t make it, we missed you! Check out pictures from the service above (photo credit: Wes Frady), and if you want to hear the sermon, we’ve posted that below!

Brent LevyComment
A Soundtrack for Lent: Week 5

Here’s the fifth offering in Alli’s “A Soundtrack for Lent” series — one song each week that informs and enriches our Lenten pilgrimages. Some weeks, the songs and hymns will connect directly with our Local Table conversations. Other weeks, they’ll simply invite inspiration and introspection. Below the video, Alli reflects on why she chose “I Need Love” by Enter the Worship Circle for Week 5.


FROM ALLI

For this fifth selection for the soundtrack for Lent, I’ve chosen “I Need Love” from Enter the Worship Circle. This song is based on Psalm 24:7 - Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of Glory may come in!

Psalm 24:8 calls the King of Glory “strong and mighty in battle.” I don’t think this is a battle fought with swords and shields, but I’ve been thinking about this battle that occurs when we separate ourselves from one another out of fear, when hatred and persecution push us against each other and away from the Lord. Psalm 24 tells us that the Lord is ready and will conquer our world, not as an earthly king, but will conquer each and every one of our hearts. Jesus came to conquer life and death for love, and so that we may dwell in the House of God forever.

Jesus, our King, invites us all into the Kingdom of Heaven and fills us with God’s love. All means ALL, y’all. Not just what we might think would be obvious choices, but sinners and saints alike. The Kingdom of Heaven is for widows and orphans, for the broken, and for those in need of love. 

We know we are broken, but in Christ Jesus we are made whole. Jesus came and died for us so that we may live. Is that not a reason to sing? Is that not a reason to bang our drums? Open up the gates of our hearts, let the King of Glory in, so that God may fill are hearts with love!

Brent LevyComment
A Soundtrack for Lent: Week 4

Here’s the fourth offering in Alli’s “A Soundtrack for Lent” series — one song each week that informs and enriches our Lenten pilgrimages. Some weeks, the songs and hymns will connect directly with our Local Table conversations. Other weeks, they’ll simply invite inspiration and introspection. Below the video, Alli reflects on why she chose “Come and Tear Down the Walls” by Noise Village (feat. Jenny Wahlström) for Week 4. (And shoutout to Katie Barnett who sang with her this week!)


FROM ALLI

How easy it is to put up walls! How easy it is to let fear — of the unknown, of getting hurt, of judgment — take control and allow us to close ourselves off. How challenging it can be to allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough let others in, to let God in.

What would happen if instead of closing ourselves off, though, we invited people in? What happens when these walls come down? Are we not called to go out and feed the hungry, to welcome the stranger, to visit the sick and imprisoned? God calls us to love our neighbors, and this cannot happen behind closed doors, behind walls. The love of God is “like no other;” just imagine what would happen if we let that love break down barriers, work in and through us, and create connection and community. How beautiful that would be.

Brent LevyComment
Haw-llelujah!
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We are so, so excited to announce that our first-ever Easter celebration will take place at (drumroll...) sunrise on Bynum Bridge overlooking the Haw River!

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We'll gather on Easter Sunday, April 21 at 6:30 am on the bridge to watch the sun come up over the Haw River, rejoice in hope, and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus! We can't wait to share this with you. You can expect scripture and singing, a brief sermon, and Holy Communion with friends old and new. Bring a chair or blanket for yourself and/or someone else. Important: We'll take care of the coffee. As always, all are welcome! Here's the Facebook event to RSVP and invite your friends, and you can add it to your calendar here.

The physical address of Bynum Bridge is 593 Bynum Rd. Pittsboro, NC 27312. Parking is available in a lot adjacent to the bridge or along the road nearby. There will be plenty of parking available!

 
Brent LevyComment
A Soundtrack for Lent: Week 3

Here’s the third offering in Alli’s “A Soundtrack for Lent” series — one song each week that informs and enriches our Lenten pilgrimages. Some weeks, the songs and hymns will connect directly with our Local Table conversations. Other weeks, they’ll simply invite inspiration and introspection. Below the video, Alli reflects on why she chose “You Say” by Lauren Daigle for Week 3.


FROM ALLI

What happens when my “good” isn’t good enough?

I am an Enneagram type two, often referred to as “the helper.” For those unfamiliar, the Enneagram is a basic personality test, similar to Myers-Briggs, and I am all for it. According to the Enneagram, twos have an intense desire to be loved, which motivates us to serve others. I certainly identify with this and find it validating that I have chosen the correct career path for myself (shout out to the Emergency Department at Duke Regional Hospital where I work full time as a nurse and get to serve my sick and injured neighbors). On the darker side, though, twos are also known to have a fear of being unwanted, a fear of inadequacy. And yet again, I can relate.

I found myself feeling this when recording my third “soundtrack” selection, “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. I kept getting frustrated when my voice would crack, and I was not able to quite reach all the notes. I felt so incapable every time my fingers went to “C” instead of “D” on the keys, or when I would forget the words halfway through the song. I found myself getting wrapped up in my imperfections, and I kept telling Brent, “Okay, we have to do this again.” Until finally he said, “Enough.” To me, it may never have been good enough. There will always be little imperfections that I will focus on. Lauren Daigle puts it so beautifully, and reminds me that when I find myself feeling like I’m not good enough, I can find comfort in the fact that “You have every failure, God, and You’ll have every victory.”

Sometimes I find myself getting caught in an undercurrent of negativity, with crashing waves of feeling inadequate, waves of feeling too powerless to create change, not talented enough, not experienced enough, not GOOD enough. Right now I’m working on swimming with this current; I’m working on loving where I’m at right now. I’m trusting that I am held, I am loved, and that His love is greater than any I can offer to myself or to others. I will work on acknowledging my shortcomings, but not letting them prevent me from living out the more positive side of my type two personality, to do good and help others, and love like He first loved us.

Brent LevyComment
Vacation Bible School at Christ UMC
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Registration for Vacation Bible School at Christ United Methodist (our anchor congregation) is now open! This year's theme is "Rolling River Rampage," and your kids (age 4 through rising 5th grade) are invited to "experience the ride of a lifetime with God." VBS is happening June 17 through June 21 from 9 am until noon at Christ UMC in Chapel Hill, and there will be Bible stories and crafts and mission opportunities and much, much more. Space is limited, so click below to register!

Brent LevyComment
A Soundtrack for Lent: Week 2

Here’s the second offering in Alli’s “Soundtrack for Lent” — one song each week that informs and enriches our Lenten pilgrimages. Some weeks, the songs and hymns will connect directly with our Local Table conversations. Other weeks, they’ll simply invite inspiration and introspection. Below the video, Alli reflects on why she chose “Let’s Be Still” by The Head and the Heart for Week 2.


FROM ALLI

Last week at our Local Tables, we discussed what comes to mind first when we hear “Lent.” Most people said something along the lines of “giving things up.” Others commented on how they never grew up with the season of Lent being a part of their lives. I fell somewhere in between. I grew up knowing about Lent and giving things up every year (throwback to those childhood days of giving up chewing gum and then chomping on a whole pack of Juicy Fruit during worship on Sunday mornings), but even still, I have a tendency to skip straight from pancakes on Fat Tuesday to Reese’s peanut butter eggs and Starburst jelly beans on Easter morning without stopping to appreciate this holy season fully.

It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the business of my day-to-day life, to worry too much about checking off the boxes on my to-do list, and to look ahead to future events before the current one is even over. Before I know it, like The Head and the Heart say, “the days turn into months, and the months turn into years,” and I’m left looking back, thinking, “How did I get here?” and “What just happened?”

This year for Lent, I’m asking myself, “What does it look like to be still?” What would it take for me to take one moment out of each day, whether it’s while I’m drinking my coffee, on a yoga mat, or in the car on the way to work, to just be still, to be free from distractions from my phone or my computer, to turn off the voices on the radio or TV talking about the news of the world around me, and to center myself in the present time. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to “Be still and know that I am God.” In this season of Lent, I hope to take these moments, no matter how long, to be still, to acknowledge God’s presence in my life, and to be grateful. When the world feels like it’s “spinning a little too fast,” I will come back to this Psalm, take a deep breath, and just be still.

Brent Levy Comment
A Soundtrack for Lent: Week 1

We are so excited to introduce Alli Burks as our brand new worship leader at The Local Church. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get to know Alli in the coming days. In the meantime, we invited Alli to share a “Soundtrack for Lent” with us — one song each week that informs and enriches our Lenten pilgrimages. Some weeks, the songs and hymns will connect directly with our Local Table conversations. Other weeks, they’ll simply be meant to invite inspiration and introspection. Below the video, Alli reflects on why she chose this for Week 1.



FROM ALLI

When I think about John Wesley’s first General Rule, “do no harm,” it initially seems quite simple. I mean, I don’t go around hitting people, or slashing tires, or stealing from department stores. I don’t ever intentionally cause harm. So I’ve got this one down, right?

When I start to dig a little deeper into what I think John Wesley means here, though, it gets a little trickier. What about all of those unintentional things I do that result in harm? What about all the times I’ve allowed myself to listen in or participate in gossip at work, causing harm to coworkers and work culture? Or the times I forget my reusable grocery bags? Or all the ways I participate in a society of systemic racism?

When I think about all these unintentional ways of causing harm every single day, it can become a little overwhelming. It seems impossible to do every single thing right without ever stepping on any toes or causing any damage, intentional or not, to myself, to others, to God’s creation in the present or future. I’m not perfect. The beauty of this, though, is that I do not have to be perfect, I just have to try. I have to try to avoid doing harm in all that I do, even if I make mistakes along the way. I also know I’m not going to get there on my own, but with the help of the Lord, learning His ways, and striving to walk with Him, I can get a lot closer.

I chose this song this week because it reminds me of just this. The first line of the song reminds me of my own shortcomings, “I am weak, but THOU art strong.” It goes on to say, “Jesus keeps me from all wrong.” By walking closer with Jesus, we can continue to steer ourselves away from the harm, the hurt, the hate of the world, and instead be bearers of light, love, and justice.

Brent Levy Comment
A Response to General Conference

Click here for the official response from the pastoral team at Christ United Methodist Church. Below is a letter from Pastor Brent to friends of The Local Church.


Dear beloved of God,

As you may know by now, The Traditional Plan has passed, not only reaffirming the United Methodist stance that "homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching," but adding teeth to the penalties for clergy who perform same-sex weddings and LGBTQ+ clergy. We will find out in April what parts of this plan are deemed constitutional and which are thrown out as unconstitutional.

There's a lot I don't know about what happens next, but here's what I do know:

There are leaders gathering around the country in the coming days, weeks, and months to determine what's next for us as a people called Methodist, in particular those who seek unity and inclusion. I talked to many of them yesterday — colleagues, peers, friends... giving them all virtual neck hugs, reminding them they're not alone. Hearing the same from them. We're not alone.

I also know that our LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers are loved by God, a blessing and not a burden to the communities they're a part of, evidence of God's wonderful creativity, and will continue to find belonging at The Local Church. Everyone means everyone. Period. I am all in on that — now more than ever.

Today, for me, has an “Upper Room” feel to it (see John 20:19). You know. The disciples are disoriented and heartbroken. Jesus is dead, and all seems lost. And yet, in the wake of grief and confusion, the disciples still gathered. They did what was familiar. They spent time together... In fear, yes. But also because in one another, they remembered the One who brought them together. That's what we'll continue to do. Tonight at the Speakeasy. Tomorrow and Sunday at Local Tables. And on and on and on.

I lament the immense harm done yesterday in St. Louis, but I find hope on this side of Resurrection. We know how the story ends. We know that joy comes in the morning. We know that all is not lost. We know that Jesus is alive and God's grace is at work in ways that we cannot yet fully comprehend. We know that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Many of you know that I keep my Bible in one hand and the U2 discography in the other. Today I’m remembering Bono's words from an interview a few years ago: "Joy is an act of defiance."

In these days ahead, I am committed to seeking justice with joy. And at The Local Church, we are committed to creating a bold, inclusive space with and for one another, our community, and the world.

Thanks be to God for you, friends. If you have any particular questions or concerns about what this means or what happens next, I welcome them. I don't have all the answers, but I'll do my best to offer what I can. You can email me here.

God is with you and for you. I am, too. Always.

Peace,
Brent

Brent Levy
Fuel Up Program Update

A Realization

At a recent round of Local Tables, we explored the idea of developing a system to provide, package, and distribute food in support of the Horton Middle School Fuel Up (Backpack) Program. After listening to your fantastic questions and ideas and feedback, we realized we were making it harder than it needs to be.

Rather than systematize a process across Local Tables, we’re taking a simpler approach.

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A Simpler Approach

We’re inviting you as an individual, as a family, or a team of families to respond to the needs of children at Horton Middle School. If you feel led to support a student in need, just let us know.

You can sign up or team up to support a youth by providing one week's supply of individual single-serve breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack items and bringing the week's supply to your Local Table. We'll take care of delivering the bags of food to Horton Middle School.  So… you buy it, you bring it, we'll deliver it!

You can sign up for just one time or from now until the end of the school year. A week's supply per child is approximately $10-15. We'll collect the food at each Local Table and deliver it that week to Horton Middle.

How To Sign Up

Please contact Colleen Sharp (cssharp39@gmail.com) if you are interested, have questions, or want to sign up.

We are looking to collect our first set of food at the next Local Tables:

Sunday Dinner, Feb 24 (Briar Chapel)
Monday, Feb 25 (Governors Club)
Thursday, Feb 28 (North. Chatham)
Sunday Brunch, Mar 3 (Powell Place)

Sign ups can be on a rolling basis. If you can't make it this time or commit this month, you can always sign up later and bring it to a future Local Table. Thanks be to God for your support and for loving local.

Brent LevyComment
50 Ways to Love Where You Are on Valentine's Day
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On our latest episode of Ten Minutes Or Less, we shared about how God’s love is there at our beginning and end, in between and beyond. It is a constant that surrounds us in every moment of our lives. Out of this love and because of this love at work in our lives (we’d call it God’s grace), we are sent then, as the hands and feet of Jesus, to be love in the world. In so doing, we recall and put flesh on the words from 1 John: “We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

At The Local Church, we capture this idea in our mantra, “Love Where You Are.” Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to remember that you are loved and then to carry that love into the world — wherever and with whom you find yourself. To help you do that, we’ve put together 50 Ways to Love Where You Are on Valentine’s Day. You can do these as an individual or as a family! And this list is by no means exhaustive. We’d love for you to add your own (in the comments below or on social media).

If this list inspires you to action, be sure to get pictures and then post them! Tag @localchurchpbo and use hashtag #lovewhereyouare!


  1. Buy the person in line behind you lunch or a cup of coffee. (This is especially fun in drive-thru situations!)

  2. Position yourself at the entrance to a business and hold the door open for everyone who walks in.

  3. Text someone you haven’t talked to in a while to reconnect.

  4. Stop and pray for the people in the place where you are.

  5. Leave an extra big tip at lunch or dinner.

  6. Meet someone new (and get their name!)

  7. Wish “Happy Valentine’s Day” to five people you don’t know.

  8. Read your Valentine’s Day card aloud instead of just handing it to someone.

  9. Pick up some trash in the parking lot on the way to your car.

  10. Donate to a local mission/charity.

  11. Sing “Happy Birthday” to someone — even if it’s not their birthday!

  12. Carry someone’s groceries to their car for them.

  13. Return shopping carts to the front of a store.

  14. Turn off your phone (or other device) to focus on the person in front of you.

  15. Bake a treat for a neighbor.

  16. Talk less. Listen more.

  17. Take some chalk to a park and leave messages (or pictures) of love and encouragement.

  18. Leave a note under the windshield complimenting someone’s parking.

  19. Pick up donuts (or cinnamon rolls) in the morning, and share them throughout the day.

  20. Learn something new about your community.

  21. Adopt a pet who needs some love.

  22. Throw a spontaneous party for your neighbors. (Or begin planning one!)

  23. Invite someone to sit with you.

  24. Learn about the zero-waste movement, and think about what you can do to join.

  25. Deliver a singing telegram to someone you don’t know. (Or someone you do.) Be sure to have someone get video!

  26. Start a book (or read a blog) written by someone who sees the world differently than you do.

  27. Forgive someone who has hurt you.

  28. Put some reusable bags in your car to use while grocery shopping.

  29. Buy a dozen roses and give them away to strangers one-by-one.

  30. Donate food to a local food pantry (like CORA or Take and Eat).

  31. Invite someone to a Local Table!

  32. Text or email someone who has recently lost a close friend or family member.

  33. Write and mail a thank you note.

  34. Take a selfie with someone you love. Share it on Instagram or Facebook!

  35. Pray for someone who is difficult for you to love.

  36. Leave a note of encouragement for someone to find (at school, work, or another public place).

  37. Buy a potted plant to give away.

  38. Go plogging. (It’s a thing.)

  39. Patronize a local business you’ve never been to.

  40. Buy a bag of Hershey’s kisses (or bake some cookies) and give them away to strangers.

  41. Get on Pinterest, and hand-make a card for somebody.

  42. Build and/or put up a bird feeder.

  43. Give someone a compliment (about something other than their appearance!)

  44. Leave a handwritten thank you note for your mail carrier or the people who pick up your garbage and recycling.

  45. Loan a book you love to a friend.

  46. Let someone ahead of you in line.

  47. Love the earth by getting your coffee “to-stay” (in a reusable mug) instead of to-go.

  48. Leave a kind note in a library book for the next person to read. (No spoilers!)

  49. Write a favorite poem or Bible verse on a card, and give it to someone.

  50. Wear your Love Where You Are shirt (and talk about it!)

Brent LevyComment