Help Survey Our Neighborhood for Habitat and Justice United

By the official maps, the Advocate site is part of the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood. (see some of the history of the neighborhood here).
One of the Advocate’s Three Goals for 2015 is to engage more fully with the neighborhoods around us, including the Rogers Road Community. In the weeks ahead, there are two opportunities for us to engage with our neighbors on and around Rogers Road by interviewing them on behalf of Orange Justice United and of Habitat for Humanity.


Orange Justice United Surveys to help Get Public Transportation to the Neighborhood

Orange Justice United has created a proposal for an altered HS bus route based off of community identified needs. We will be canvassing the Rogers Rd neighborhood to ratify the proposal and sign up residents for a petition in support.

In the Rogers Road community parents need better bus service to get to work and for their children to return home from after school activities. Several low income families spoke of the burden of having to own a car because of the lack of bus service. The proposed new route aims to meet these needs and give the Rogers Road community the same level of service enjoyed in other parts of town.
Will you join us as we engage in this important work? After we have received support from the residents for the proposed changes, we will vet them through Chapel Hill Transit before presenting them to the Transit Partners on April 28.
Please contact to RSVP for the canvassing on Saturday.

Habitat Homeowners Surveys

This spring Habitat for Humanity of Orange County will be administering two surveys: the 6-12 Month Follow Up Survey with Phoenix Place homeowners who closed on their homes in the past 6-12 months and the Habitat Homeowner Survey with homeowners in New Homestead.  Phoenix Place and New Homestead are both communities off of Rogers Road. We would love for members of The Advocate to volunteer to survey residents!  Working as a Survey Administration Volunteer gives individuals the opportunity to connect with the Phoenix Place and New Homestead communities and get to know their residents. Surveying community members is about more than just the data we collect – it’s a chance to get to know our fellow community members better!  This is especially true as members of The Advocate build relationships with the residents of Rogers Road.

Survey Administration volunteers will be trained in surveying best-practices before they work with homeowners. Volunteers work in pairs.  One volunteer asks questions while the other volunteer writes down the homeowner’s answers.  This makes it easier to record answers and information.”

Training times for March 21st volunteering are:

2:30-4:30 PM on Wednesday, March 11

3:00-5:00 PM on Monday, March 16th

5:00-7:00 PM on Tuesday, March 17th

Training times for March 28th volunteering are:

3:00-5:00 PM on Monday, March 23rd

5:00-7:00 PM on Tuesday, March 24th

2:30-4:30 PM on Wednesday, March 25th

The Advocate Hosts Artist Susan Wells for “Mother Mary at Solstice”


A Susan Wells Sculpture Exhibition, Feminine Divine Altar Tour and Artist Talks

Friday, June 20, 4 pm -9 pm

Saturday, June 21, 10 am – 4 pm

The Advocate

8410 Merin Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516



Facebook event page:

The Final Stretch!

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 11.07.52 PMIt’s been over a year since we moved the 19th century carpenter gothic chapel onto our site on Merin Road at Homestead. Each step has taken longer, cost more, and been more dramatic and exciting than we anticipated.

We are now within $27,500 and 21 working days (weather permitting) of doing the work needed to get the Certificate of Occupancy and move onto the land and into the chapel.

As of 3/1, we are within $14,500 and 10 working days….

 We need your help to get us through the final stretch!


Here’s what remains to be funded by March 15th if we are going to be in the chapel this Easter:

IMG_2799Connecting water line: $2000

Window and door fittings: $800

Floor finishing: $3500

Required landscaping: $5500

Protective and cosmetic screening: $3000

Reversal and repair red front doors: $500

Installation of electric panels and fixtures: $3000

Painting the exterior of the Chapel: $9200   (while not required for the Certificate of Occupancy, painting will help preserve and protect the chapel, and will sure make a visual impact!)                                 

Please send checks to:

The Episcopal Church of the Advocate

8410 Merin Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.

Or give online here.

If you can’t give now, but know that you can pledge to give by November 1, contact


October at the Advocate

ECOTA logo

October 2013 and Beyond
News and Notes

Creation Cycle Continues!

The Monumental Gothic Window seen through the Vision Window. Photo by Barbara Rowan


Saturday, October 5
at the Advocate Site
8410 Merin Road
10 AM Chapel and grounds open, with lutenist Carver Blanchard performing in the Chapel.
11 AM Outdoor liturgy with the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry Celebrant and Preacher
12:30 PM Lunch under the tent
(See more information below)
Sunday, October 6
10 AM Holy Eucharist followed by brunch (provided). At the Advocate Site, 8410 Merin Road.
Sundays, October 13, 20, and 27: at the Unity Center of Peace, 8800 Seawell School Road.
8:45 AM Holy Eucharist followed by tailgate coffee hour.
5 PM      Holy Eucharist follow by dinner (provided)
Tuesdays (note the change of day), October 8 and 22. Indulgences continues discussions of faith and science. All are welcome! At Milltown, 307 East Main Street in Carrboro. Check the Advocate website and facebook page for updates.
Wednesday, October 9, noon – 1 PM. Join others from the Advocate in sharing lunch with the homeless on 15 501 between Durham and Chapel Hill. through Project Open Table. For more information see here.
Wednesdays, October 2, 16, 23 and 30, at the Unity Center of Peace

12 noon Holy Eucharist with readings from Holy Women, Holy Men.

6 PM Contemplative Prayer.

Heron fishes the Advocate Pond


Land, Stewardship, and Justice: A Season of Action and Reflection
Liturgy of the Land returns! Come help cultivate the gardens and create a meditation trail.
Every other Saturday, 9 AM – noon.
Oct. 12 & 26.
(for more information, look here)
Discussion series: Every Other Wednesday Evening at 7 PM at the Homestead House:
Oct 2  Climate Change: What is it and what can we do? Reading for our discussion can be found here.
Oct 16  Stewardship and Justice, Part 1: Renewal.
Oct 30  Stewardship and Justice, Part 2: The Advocate Homestead.
(for more information, look here)
Tuesdays, October 8 and 22 Indulgences. Come and indulge your doubt, your faith, you curiosity.
Meeting at 7PM at MILLTOWN (307 East Main Street in Carrboro).
October 8: Freedom and determinism. What do science and theology have to say about free will and predestination?
For more information, look here.
To Learn More, please visit our website
Visit the website of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina

Join our online community:
Like us on Facebook



Black Stripes
Join Our Mailing List
Information about the reconstruction and renovation of St. Philip’s can be found here

To donate to make the reconstruction and required infrastructure possible click here.
Advocate launches Clearness Committees in 2013-2014
The Advocate will begin offering a ministry of Clearness Committees in the fall of 2013. See more information about this helpful and exciting possibility here.If you have interest in participating as an individual seeking clarity around a question, situation, problem or opportunity in your life, please let Nathan Kirkpatrick know ( you would like to know more about the Clearness Committee process or what it means to ask for a Clearness Committee, you are invited to informal conversations after the 5 o’clock liturgy on September 8 or October 6.

Notes for the 10th Anniversary!We look forward to sharing our tenth anniversary with friends near and far. A few notes for the day: 

On site parking will be provided for those with mobility issues. Others will be asked to park farther up Merin Road or at the Unity Center of Peace. A shuttle will be provided to help folks get to and from Unity.


Is it the custom of the Advocate to gather food for the IFC food pantry at every liturgy. For our tenth anniversary we are encouraging people to bring ten items of food if they are able. (Ten for the Tenth), but any can or box of pasta will be happily received. There will be a drop off at the driveway for these donations.


The site is still under construction, and we do not yet have our certificate of occupancy for the Chapel. But it is going to be a beautiful day, so we will be worshiping outdoors.


Main dishes and cake will be provided for the lunch. As you are able, please bring a side dish to share.


Most important, just come to the celebration.

Land, Stewardship, and Justice: A Season of Action and Reflection


IMG_8035Land, Stewardship, and Justice: A Season of Action and Reflection

Part 1: Liturgy of the Land returns! Every other Saturday, 9 AM – noon.
Sept. 14 & 28 and Oct. 12 & 26.
In our Sunday worship we use the word “liturgy” to mean “the work of the people.” Our liturgy becomes holy through our desire to worship God. Come on over to the Advocate Homestead on Saturday mornings for another way to glorify God through “the work of the people.”
This fall we are creating a meditation trail through the back 10 acres of the Advocate property. There is plenty of work to do for all ages and abilities, from painting trail signs to clipping briars and clearing dead wood. Beginning Sept. 14 and running every other Saturday through the end of October (and likely to continue in November).
Part 2: Discussion series: Every Other Wednesday Evening at 7 PM at the Homestead House:  
Sept 18  The Gift of Good Land. Sept 18  The Gift of Good Land. The Advocate is becoming a “landed” church. How do we respond to this remarkable gift? What opportunities and responsibilities face us as new stewards of the land? What are our principles, and what are our goals? Reading: “The Gift of Good Land” by Wendell Berry. (link here:  The Gift of Good Land)
Oct 2  In Search of “Right Relationship.” 
The complexity of a globalized industrial economy obscures our interdependence on Creation, but does not negate it. What might “right relationship” with Creation look like? What can we do, as a newly landed people, to move toward “right relationship” with our new church home? Reading: from can be found here.
Oct 16  Stewardship and Justice, Part 1: Renewal.
Right relationship with Creation requires both stewardship and justice. We’ll watch the film “Renewal,” which chronicles the efforts of faith communities around the US to restore stewardship and justice in their communities. Reading: from “Recovering the Sacred” by Winona LaDuke. (link to scans will be posted here in October)
Oct 30  Stewardship and Justice, Part 2: The Advocate Homestead.
What issues of stewardship and justice have we inherited with the Advocate land? How can we use the gift of good land and our own gifts of imagination and experience to further the work of God’s kingdom? Reading TBA. (link to scans will be posted here in October)
Martha digging a new garden bed

Bees and Creation, Wednesday, October 30 at 7 PM

Join others of the Advocate at the  Homestead House this Wednesday, October 30, to watch a segment of the 2010 documentary, Queen of the Sun. The film viewing will be followed by discussion of bees and other pollinators and their place in creation and the life cycle. We will also consider whether bees might have a place on the Homestead site in the years ahead.

Bees and Creation is the last of a 4-part series on Land, Stewardship and Justice.

Advocate 10th ANNIVERSARY Saturday, October 5

AdvocateExports  088

Come join the celebration of 10th Anniversary of the Episcopal Church of the Advocate

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Music in the Chapel begins at 10 AM

Outdoor Holy Eucharist begins at 11 AM

The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, Celebrant and Preacher

Followed by Lunch (as you are able, please bring a side dish to share)

on the Advocate Grounds

8410 Merin Road

Donations for the IFC food pantry encouraged.

Raffle tickets for a handmade quilt will be sold with raffle drawing at 2 PM.

Quilt for raffle


Moving Church

Moving Church  

The carpenter gothic, board-and-batten St. Philip’s Church was built in Germanton, North Carolina, in 1891. It was designed to seat 150 facing forward in 25 nine-foot long pews. The congregation grew to 22 people by 1895. Then the vicar died. Episcopalians started moving to the burgeoning city of Winston Salem, ten miles to the southwest. For the next 80 years the congregation of 5-10 people and their descendants kept the church going. Then they died or moved away.

In 1980, the church building came under the care of the Diocesan Historic Properties Committee. They organized a local committee to keep up the building and to provide two services a year for any who wanted to participate. They got the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, not only for its simple architecture, but also because it had never had electricity or plumbing. It was exemplary of the 19th century rural church.

By 2010, the local committee couldn’t recruit new members and it folded. A nearby Baptist church was interested in the land the building occupied. The Diocese determined to put the property up for sale and began to seek interested parties to move the structure, if possible.

That’s where the Church of the Advocate got involved.

A mission church of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, Advocate was launched by three established Episcopal Church in Orange County, NC in 2003. Very aware of ourselves as a 21st century mission within the Anglican Episcopal tradition, we were intentional about developing new ways of being for a new generation in a new world.  We developed our webpage and our presence in social media; we got involved in the community, and held our service at 5 PM each Sunday. We rented space for that Sunday worship, first in a Unity Church, then for five years in a synagogue. We earnestly considered the call to remain a nomadic church, unbridled by the maintenance of land and building. We looked at storefronts, got creative with outdoor processions downtown, held meetings in one another’s homes. We became known for our authenticity, our engaging and creative liturgy, and our weekly fellowship dinners, which extended the Eucharistic feast. Our reputation for engagement in the community was bigger than we were.

We were a congregation that realized that the church is not a building, rather the church is the people of God, the Body of Christ.

But six years into it, the task of setting up and taking down our worship space every week was losing its charm. More important, we began to realize what a more permanent location could provide for us and for our ministry. We wanted to offer a variety of opportunities for prayer, contemplation and worship. We wanted to offer hospitality throughout the week. We wanted to plant community gardens and invite people into public space to organize and be empowered to work for God’s compassionate justice in the world. We began to look for land.

In January 2011 we closed on a 15-acre site. Funds to buy the land came from the sacrificial giving of the congregation, but also from the generosity of several octogenarians — friends from a generation that strongly believed that a church needs a building. From the start, we knew that the land was a gift and that we were being called to be faithful stewards of it. We could only justify “owning” the land if we had a vision for sharing it, for buildings with “porous walls” which allow people to come and go freely. We wanted the site, the whole site, to be a resource to the wider community. We wanted it to be a place of contemplation and action, for restoration and service. Our vision developed to include a non-profit center, a residence for up to 15 people living in intentional community, a retreat center, an education center, and a Center for Theological Engagement or Restorative Justice.

Fifteen acres can host a lot.

But first, we needed a building in which to worship. And still, we were a small congregation without much money.

We had just gotten to the point of considering how to build a 1000 square foot worship space when a member of the Diocesan Historic Properties Committee approached us about St. Philip’s Chapel. Would we consider moving the old church building to our site rather than building a new one from scratch?

The idea resonated deeply with the congregation. As a people committed to environmental sustainability, we realized that re-using an existing structure was much preferable to new construction. As a congregation with many young adults, the building held a certain “retro” appeal. For others it was nostalgic. For all, it represented our commitment to cherish the past while making it new, to be rooted in tradition by not bound by it. The simple beauty of the all-wooden building resonated with our shared aesthetic. We also heard a call to allow the building itself to flourish, to be used for the purpose for which it was constructed, to be a place of worship and hospitality for a growing, vital congregation.

Due diligence proved fruitful. We learned about Mike Blake of Blake Moving Company, who specializes in moving old buildings, Blake said it was doable, and the cost, even including the addition of electricity and plumbing, would likely be less than new construction. We confirmed that the building’s status on the register of historic places did not stand in the way of its moving. This led us to a tangle, though — the heartfelt opposition from some who lived in and around Germanton.

While the Episcopalians of Germanton had long since died or moved away, several people of the region were attached to the beautiful wooden building. It was a visual touchstone for them, a place they identified with their small town. Their compelling arguments raised valid questions of ownership. The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina legally owned the building. But the people who lived in and around Germanton had visually owned it for more than a hundred years. And several of them knew the Episcopalians who had lovingly tended the church in the mid-twentieth century. The Advocate was committed to giving the building new life and vitality for all the right reasons. But should that outweigh the more limited but bold efforts of the local population to try to keep the building in place and do the same? The conflict was painful for everyone. But the emotional, spiritual and financial investment of The Church of the Advocate was increasing.  And the Advocate’s emerging passion for making the building accessible to all in all seasons of the year, combined with the matter of legal ownership by the Episcopal Diocese held sway. As did the youth, energy and hope for the future church that the Advocate embodies.

Thus began the actual and the metaphorical process of “Moving Church”. It has not been simple.

The move itself was an adventure. To move a building a short distance, overhead lines can be taken down temporarily. But taking down lines to move a building over 100 miles is prohibitively expensive. Instead, Blake removed the bell tower and roof to keep the clearance under 16 feet. The stained glass windows were removed for safekeeping.  As the building was taken apart for transport, previously invisible rot and decay revealed itself. The building didn’t just need preservation; it needed renewal. At each step we had to determine which parts should be declared unfit for restoration, which parts could be restored with re-used old wood, and which needed to be completely rebuilt with new lumber and nails.

The building could not be moved along the interstate, but only along back roads. Every mile of the route had to be planned and approved by local jurisdictions. Road closures and police escorts had to be arranged. Overhead branches had to be trimmed and overnight stays had to be arranged. Moving church is slow business. It requires creativity and perseverance. And it requires a lot of communication all along the way.

The night before the building rolled onto its new location, a group from the Advocate went out to its berth by the highway and prayed evening prayers.

We celebrated “a church on the move,” and realized that we were being formed for our future.

It has been six months since the building arrived at its new home. The foundation has been built, the bead board ceiling covered with boards of insulation and on the roof, new shingles replace the old. Insulation has been blown onto the backside of the board and batten and the bead board walls returned. The original stained glass windows will follow. Only the window that faces liturgical east will be different. It will be clear glass now, and will be called the Vision Window, given in thanksgiving for those whose vision and perseverance brought the building to this place. Handicap accessibility and plumbing are coming soon. The electrician has installed 21st century wiring and the steeple is now covered with long-lasting pine shake. The cross that had fallen from the steeple years ago was replaced with a new cross that rises high above the tree line.

We have sold most of the old pews, and have received a donation of 90 chairs, which will allow for flexible use of the space. The pump organ is gone, and a piano is coming. The acoustics inside the nave have been described as being “like in the inside of a guitar”, ripe for unplugged instruments and a cappella singing, which we understand to provide an experience of the Spirit moving among us. The old woodstove will become a credence table, holding the vessels for the people gathered, providing a different kind of warmth.

We still have to provide some infrastructure – parking lot, curbs, sidewalks, and sewer – before we get the coveted Certificate of Occupancy.

Even then, I pray we will not settle.

The building is moved, but the church keeps moving, as long as we are open to the Spirit and alert to the world around us. If so, we will continue to cultivate gardens that are open to all and we will build with porous walls. We will continue to cultivate a liturgy that is both an expression of the faith of the people gathered and that forms the faith of the people gathered; that is both a work of the people and a public work. We will mentor young adults in the discernment of ministry, and provide a space for teaching the traditions, an also for intentional and open theological engagement.  We will be alert to the needs and injustices in our world and find ways to make God’s compassionate justice known. Carefully and patiently, we will examine our old structures and ways to determine which have essentially rotted and can no longer function, which need to be preserved as they are, and which can be moved and restored, made new for a new generation and accessible to all.

Moving a 19th century carpenter gothic church building 120 miles along back roads was exciting, and it makes for a good story. But moving church, the people of God, is by far the greater work.


Photos and videos of the Moving Church can be viewed at

The Rev. Lisa G. Fischbeck is the founding Vicar of the Episcopal Church of the Advocate, a 21st century mission church in Orange County, North Carolina.