On Being Church - a blog

Emily & Barrett Bryson joined West Raleigh Presbyterian Church in the spring of 2018. They tried several other congregations before making an intentional decision to join West Raleigh. I say intentional because, although they loved the inter-generational nature of West Raleigh’s community of faith, they also hoped for a few more young adults – folks their own age, and they knew joining West Raleigh meant nurturing that community themselves. Since last spring, Barrett has chaperoned the Middle School mission trip and the couple teaches the 5-7th Grade Sunday school class. They have also been setting about the work they knew needed to be done when they first committed to making West Raleigh their church home. Emily and Barrett, along with David Vanpelt, have started a young adult small group that has been meeting every Monday night since early March. They split their time between local breweries and homes; alternating a book study with just hanging out. They are pictured here Monday night after pizza at the Rick-Miller’s.

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While I worked on this blog post on Wednesday, I watched out my window as people came and went through the courtyard. A parade of Hillsborough Street humans filtered in and out around lunchtime, coming to receive a brown bag lunch; then there were delivery men; church members coming for meetings and the book group, and one little boy with what looked like his father in tow, climbing over the stumps and jumping off the play structure. As the afternoon gave way to evening, the campus ministry students arrived along with some local high school students for A Taste of PCM night. I love the view of the courtyard from my desk, because I love to watch all the people come in and out of the church. I want more people to find doors – ways into the church where they might find sanctuary.

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Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my loyal child in the faith –

These are the things you must insist on and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. - 1 Timothy 4:11-16

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contributed by Marietta Wynands

The wise teacher of the book of Proverbs noted that “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (16:9). Those of us who have a life-long association with church have witnessed many changes over the years. Plans, whether designed by a Director, a Superintendent, or a Church Education Committee, have come and gone. Based on some of the book titles in my office, such as “You Can Increase Sunday School Attendance” and “77 Ways to Energize Your Sunday School Class,” there has long been the desire to educate effectively in the church. We humans plan our course, and pray that the Lord will establish the path.

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Saturday is going to be a big day at West Raleigh. First, there is MARCH MISSION MADDNES. Around seventy people are expected to participate in this day of service. It all starts with a light breakfast and commissioning prayer at 9am; then we fan out all over the city, some staying to work in the BeeLoved Community Garden and clean the church nursery or spend the morning in prayer, while others work at Habitat for Humanity, A Place at the Table, Family Promise, and hopefully (City of Raleigh permits willing), help Davie Street Presbyterian Church move back into their building. Then, after a morning of service, we will gather back at West Raleigh for lunch (Spoiler Alert: Johnny Flowe is cooking up pulled pork tacos with fancy slaw for lunch!). This is a morning for everyone – young and old, of all manner and variety of ability – to pray, to serve and to be nourished by the knowledge that we can do so much more together than any of us can do on our own. Sign up here.

But, friends, keep reading because that is not all that is happening on Saturday. After years of patient waiting and persistent prodding, the tower crane that has been swinging over the block, unused for more than three years will be dismantled and trucked away this weekend. The process will begin on Friday with the arrival of technicians who will inspect and prepare the crane for removal; then on Saturday, an assist crane will arrive on Hillsborough Street to dismantle the tower crane piece-by-piece. Businesses on Hillsborough Street, from the corner of Horne to Target will be closed as will one lane of traffic; and there will not be street parking around much of the block so that the many trucks can turn the corners as they haul away the crane. All of the work will take place over the businesses between the alley and Hillsborough Street, and technicians from Morrow Crane and the company they have contracted for this crane’s removal have assured West Raleigh that there is no need to change our plans on Saturday or Sunday. Fairmont United Methodist has also offered use of their parking lot on Saturday (as long as we are out by 1pm). So, we are all set, for a day of March Mission and Crane Removal Madness. You definitely, don’t want to miss it. I will see you there!

Keep the faith,


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I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me. – Terence

These words are lines from a play written by the ancient playwright, Publius Terentius Afer (c. 195/185 – c. 159? BC). Terrence, as he is more commonly known in English, was a Roman playwright of Berber descent who was taken to Rome as a slave. The first time I heard this line was in Maya Angelou’s humanities class when I was a senior in college at Wake Forest University, where she was a professor for many years. Terrence’s words, spoken in Angelou’s deep, resonating voice never left me.

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