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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