One of the innumerable blessings, serendipities, miracles of the Advocate in our short life so far happened last fall. I got a call from a doctor at UNC named John Thorp. The Chancellor, he said, had recommended that he call. Turns out John Thorp is an OB GYN. Through John, Jesus saw pregnant women, many pregnant women with drug addictions, coming for treatment at UNC. So several years ago Dr. Thorp began a program to help pregnant women with drug addictions. It’s called Horizons.
The program has grown over the years. It is now a residential program serving more than 50 women a year. They come, largely through the court system, because they have committed misdemeanor crimes or petty larceny, or because they are having trouble parenting their other children. They are unable to hold down jobs, they often suffer with post traumatic stress disorder from violence in their past. And they are pregnant.
While in the year-long program, they receive drug rehab, PTSD counseling,vocational counseling, and parenting skills. As their babies are born, they are giving loving professional day care while their mamas learn to do the same. All in a rented facility in downtown Carrboro, right next to the cemetery where we conclude our Way of the Cross each Good Friday. The women live in blocks of apartments around town, funded by the UNC Health Care System. And Horizons staff live near them, available to them through the night.
As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
After years of renting a facility in Carrboro that was built to provide offices for a utility, John Thorp is ready to build a building designed for the Horizons Program, designed to meet its needs. So he went to see the Chancellor. The Chancellor, Holden Thorp, knew about the Advocate, about our land and about our desire to serve as a collaborative resource in North Chapel Hill. So Holden suggested that John give us a call.
Since then, the Advocate Vestry and Horizons and UNC and the Diocese have been engaged in due diligence to see if we might actually be able to host the Horizons program in a building of their design and construction on our campus. It’s looking good, largely because our lay leadership in 2009 had the foresight to see us through a comprehensive site development plan gaining approval from the town for a 10,000 square foot building for “outreach” long before we had a specific vision for it.
There is much to be excited about in this project. And if it comes to pass, the timing couldn’t be better. Because it will allow us to know and to make known from the start that The Church of the Advocate does not hold the land on Homestead Road for ourselves alone, but as a resource for the region.
A place of rest. A place of restoration. A place of collaborative social ministry.
That land is a blessing, a gift. I know we all worked hard to contribute towards it and make it possible, but even so it is a gift. And we are its stewards.
Prayerfully, we are its faithful stewards.
(excerpted from a sermon by the Vicar, Lisa Fischbeck, July 22, 2012).