At the Church of the Advocate we take the Gospel seriously.
We take seriously the Good News of God in Jesus — Jesus, who loved and engaged with the poor, the sick and the outcast. Jesus, who in his parting words to the church called his followers to do the same. Jesus, who by his death and resurrection, made possible a way of life that liberates us all from the brokenness and bondage that this world and its systems try to enforce.
As a new congregation, we were given the name Advocate. The Advocate, named for Jesus who is our way to God and God’s ways. The Advocate, named for the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to knit our wills to God’s will and our spirits to God’s Spirit. The Advocate, named for the ministry to which we are called in our baptism —
– to seek and serve Christ in all persons,
– to strive for justice and peace among all people,
– to respect the dignity of every human being.
And so, from the start, we have been a congregation that takes seriously the Gospel and takes seriously the call to engage with the world in which we live, especially on behalf of the poor, the sick and the oppressed.
And rather than use the word outreach, which suggests that somehow we are the haves who are reaching out to the have-nots, we use the word engaging, which emphasizes that we are all in need of one another in order to be whole.
We try to make this plain in our hospitality Sunday by Sunday — that God brings us together from our varied households, our varied stages and phases of life and faith and doubt, and we gather here as the people of God, each one precious in God’s eye.
We try to make this plain in our Advocate Tithe — through which 10% of any funds pledged or given in the plate offering each week is then given to the work of the Gospel in the community and world around us — always in ways that engage People of the Advocate, if not corporately, then individually.
And individually, the People of the Advocate are certainly engaged in many, many ways.
But we also look for avenues for corporate community engagement — the community engagement, not of the People of the Advocate, but of the Church of the Advocate.
This is challenging for several reasons, three in particular:
First, we are new, and it has taken a lot of effort just to get us organized for worship and the nurture of our own community
Second, we are small, and there are many things that need to be done by a few people — again, just to keep us going, week by week,
Third, we are community of individuals who are already doing a LOT in the world, and time is scarce.
Nonetheless, we realize that there is much to be gained by engaging as a community:
First, we are called to do so by our Lord and by our Baptism
Second, it is a way for us to witness to Christ’s saving love and to make it known. Christians should be known for their compassion and their passion for justice.
Third, it strengthens us as a community.
Beginning in September 2006, the People of the Advocate began a process of engaging with the people of Club Nova, a program for chronically severely mentally ill adults in Carrboro. Our engagement included participation together in workshops and programs, moving members of Club Nova into their new apartments, sharing meals together, and more.
In early 2007, the Advocate began to explore the possibility of engaging with the people of St. Innocents, a congregation and school on La Gonave Island in Haiti. International engagement in truly challenging and truly rewarding, and we look forward to building on the relationships begun.
How we engage as a community depends largely on the passions of individuals within the community. As such, our engagement will change with time, and with the particular people leading with their particular passions.
But always we will be a People of the Advocate — called to engage with the community and world around us, called to make known God’s compassion, God’s justice, and the transformation that is ours in Christ.