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On Being Church - a blog

I have eaten at Table Raleigh (formerly known as A Place at the Table) three times this week! I love it, and I know you will too. I have had the avocado toast, yogurt bowl and sun dried tomato quiche with goat cheese. My eleven year old daughter raves about the waffles, served with whipped cream, butter and syrup – a trinity of abundance! You can also get a biscuit with sausage gravy for breakfast or a pulled pork panini for lunch. Table Raleigh started with an epiphany. Then Presbyterian Campus Ministry student, Maggie Kane (now Executive Director of A Place at the Table), had a vision of a restaurant where all God’s people could eat and enjoy good, fresh food together – regardless of their ability to pay. Maggie’s vision extended beyond providing food to the millions of food insecure Americans. Her vision was to create, nurture and sustain community around something that is necessary for us all – food. It has taken years for Maggie’s epiphany to grow into a full service pay-as-you-can café located at 300 W. Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh. But last week it finally did – Table Raleigh opened from 7am-2pm, Monday – Saturday.

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Last spring I was thumbing through one of my professional magazines, Surface Design, when I noticed a small ad in the back for a national art quilt exhibition, Sacred Threads. The word sacred jumped off the page at me, because it is rare to see an exhibition that includes anything hinting of spiritual content. While you and I might find that surprising, because we know that creating often comes from a spiritual place, it is an anomaly in the art world. Most nonprofit galleries cannot accept government or grant funds if they have any kind of religious connection and most private, for-profit galleries also shy away from spiritual content because it is less commercial and can be controversial. When we first formed the arts ministry here at West Raleigh five years ago, among the reasons that we cited was “to offer our own members and other artists in the area the opportunity to exhibit artworks of a spiritual nature.”

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One year ago at the annual Stewardship Luncheon, the congregation reaffirmed our commitment to the courtyard restoration project. During the summer of 2016, 118 members and friends of West Raleigh met in 15 small groups to envision how best to steward several sizeable bequests. Out of those conversations grew the momentum and the commitment to a project that included a complete renovation of the courtyard, a columbarium, restoration of the stained glass windows’ protective coverings, new signage and lighting. Since last fall members of the Courtyard Task Force, Frances Wilder (chair), Eric Baucom, Austin Jones, Shanora Kingsberry, & Bill Smith have been working toward that goal.

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This is the third of seven Monday meditations during Commitment (pledging) Season on Building the Beloved Community. This week Renee Elder offers a reflection on the Beeloved Community Garden & the Courtyard.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
Psalms 133:1

The Psalm quoted above as our theme for the season at first struck me as merely wishful thinking, considering the state of the world we live in. Far from showing unity, God’s people seem to inhabit a place where criticism and conflict are our daily bread. From individual acts of violence, to displays of aggression and harsh words between leaders of nations, our people seem bent on stirring up strife instead of pursuing peace.

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Some thoughts as we mark the beginning of the Reformation 500 years later.

This week marks the beginning of our month-long celebration of Martin Luther’s famous 95 Theses. The story goes that he nailed this list of theological grievances to the castle chapel door in Wittenberg, Germany. There is some discussion about whether or not he actually nailed the document to the church doors (which did, in fact, act as a community notice board) or circulated his Theses to church leaders, but there is no discussion about the centrality of this moment in the life of the church. Martin Luther’s challenge to the church began a Reformation that spawned denominations and reformed the Catholic Church from the inside out. But, how does it inform who we are today – 500 years later in 2017?

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Written by Emily Beaver, PCM Leadership Team, Sophomore at NC State

It is Shackathon time! Every year NC State hosts a week long benefit for Habitat for Humanity, where college students come together and build shacks that they stay in 24/7 ALL WEEK! Presbyterian Campus Ministry joins forces to help build, man, and fundraise for the Unity Shack. The Unity Shack is an interfaith shack that is a joint effort between Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, and Better Together. Better Together is an interfaith group at NC State that brings together students of all faith, and works to promote equality and understanding of all different religions.

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