The Advocate Pond — A Ministry of Place and People, Hospitality and Fish
In 2011 the Advocate acquired 15 acres of land in north Chapel Hill, in the middle of a hub of development in the next ten years – from extensive expansion of the University of North Carolina to the development of transitional housing ministries for the homeless, from residential and commercial build-out, to the possible placement of the growing town’s next middle school. Our 15 acres is also adjacent to what is known as The Historic Rogers Road Community, that settlement north of Chapel Hill, just outside the town limits, that has been home to generations of African Americans since the mid-19th century. The Rogers Road history includes a history of governmental racism, with roads and utilities slow to come or even denied, while the region’s landfill was placed there
On the fifteen-acre site, the people of the Advocate feel called to provide a space for hospitality, worship and contemplation, as well as a regional resource for collaborative social ministry and the arts.
In the middle of the 15 acres, there is a pond.
The pond existed long before it “belonged” to the Church of the Advocate. When the Advocate settlers first arrived, we quickly realized that the pond had a life and ministry all its own. From spring to fall, and especially in the summer, people from around Rogers Road came to fish for their for their pleasure, and for their supper. They had for generations. We learned that the man who had owned the land for decades before us used to stock the pond with bass, brim, and crappie. It was a peaceful and welcoming place.
In our first year on site, we realized that we had a lot to learn from the pond and its people — about regional history, about fishing, about life. And we realized that we had something to offer as well. Hospitality, for one thing. And also the church’s story, and the hope that is within us.
In 2013 though, as the Advocate site was prepared for parking and a chapel, the pond and its life were significantly disrupted. In order to meet requirements of the 1972 American Clean Water Act and various codes of the Town of Chapel Hill, the pond had to be drained and both a filter and an overflow drainage system installed. Turtles snuggled into the mud and most of the remaining fish found their way into the gullets of stalking herons.
As we settled in to our second year of worshipping in the Advocate Chapel, we engaged in conversations with the people and the non-profit agencies around us, learning how we could be good neighbors in the neighborhood. One of the things we have learned is how much the people of Rogers Road miss the pond, miss the fishing. We heard that the elders of that community want to teach their grandchildren how to fish, they want their grandchildren to know that peaceful part of their ancestral way of life.
We also realized that the ministry of the pond can be expanded to include the residents of InterFaith Council’s Community House, a transitional housing program for men, that stands within a half mile of our site. For the people of the Advocate, this is a clear call to hospitality. And, like so much of the Advocate, it also has a strong appeal to our elders who are nostalgic for the past and to our young adults, who want to cultivate a simpler and more nature-centered life in the age of technology and internet. The Advocate Pond is a simple, peaceful, healing place.
The Advocate would like to develop the ministry of The Advocate Pond. We have learned what we can about how to clear the algae and re-stock the fish. We would like to be able to host fish dinners once a year to welcome the neighbors, maybe buy some rods and nets that those without them could use, and put up a little shed to store them in. Eventually we might even build a simple dock, so that people with unstable footing might access the pond and while others would be less likely to turn an ankle or fall in the water.
Our goal will always be to provide a natural setting and a place of peaceful hospitality. If you are led to support the Ministry of the Advocate Pond, please contact the Vicar.
Kit Latimer was officially a member of the Church of the Advocate for a year before her death in January 2016. But illness prevented her from ever being able to worship with us in the Chapel. Her spirit was ever present, though, in notes played on her piano, which her husband, John Latimer, donated to the Advocate in time for our first liturgy in the Chapel, Easter, 2014.
John Latimer has now designated the gifts given in memory of Kit to pay for the purchase and installation of the stabilizing pillars on the south wall of the Chapel. This is an appropriate designation, as John and Kit, each in their own way, have been stabilzers of the Church wherever they have lived for more than half a century!
Here are photos and video of the installation of the 8 inch x 8 inch x 25 ft re-purposed heart pine pillars:
Repurposing the Advocate House
This summer, the Advocate plans to re-purpose our house for be used as an ADA-compliant space for office and gathering. Currently, the house is a private residence and is not up to code as a public gathering space and office. Funds have been raised that will allow doorways and the large bathroom to be brought to ADA compliance. to add an access ramp and small deck off the Chapel side of the house, and to convert the living room/library’s east window into an accessible doorway.
In addition, the current office space will be converted more fully to a kids space, and one of the back rooms will become the office. Recessed lighting will be installed throughout the house, the linoleum floors will be replaced, and the exterior trim will be restored. If funds are available, the fireplace with be fitted with a gas log insert.
To complete our obligations to the Town of Chapel Hill for development of the site south of the pond, funds raised will also be used to finish a parking area with ten parking spaces behind the house, to add and additional handicap parking place, to bring sewer to the house, and remove the existing septic system.
All of these things will allow the People of the Advocate better to care for our children, to learn, pray, break bread and welcome the stranger more faithfully and graciously, and will be done at the same time as our preparation for three Pee Wee Homes adjacent to the House.
At some point in the future, we hope to extend a deck around the house, and perhaps transform the carport into a finished meeting space….
Online donations can be made here.
Checks written to The Episcopal Church of the Advocate with a Memo to Building Campaign may be sent to:
8410 Merin Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Click to view the Advocate House plan with deck.
Unity in the Community Celebration will bring a day of fun to Chapel Hill
Join us for a day of live entertainment, good food, free health screenings, fellowship and family fun! Bring friends and family, lawn chairs and blankets for seating. Everyone of all ages is welcome to attend and there is no charge for the event!
The event will be Saturday, April 18th, 11 AM-3 PM, regardless of the weather.
The celebration will take place at the Rogers Road Community Center, 101 Edgar Street, Chapel Hill and Phoenix Place Park which is next to the Center. There will be a children’s bouncy house at the Park, and Ben & Jerrys will be giving away ice cream cones along with a light lunch being provided.
The organizers of the event include St. Paul AME Church, Blue Ribbon Youth Leadership Institute, EmPOWERment Inc., The Episcopal Church of the Advocate, Faith Tabernacle Oasis of Love, Grape Arbor Development Corporation, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, Human Rights Center, The Jackson Center, Justice Center, the Phoenix Place Homeowners Association, Piedmont Health Services, Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association (RENA), United Church of Chapel Hill, The Veggie Van, the Town of Carrboro and the Town of Chapel Hill.
If you have questions, please contact David Caldwell of the Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association (RENA) at (919) 918-2822.
The Advocate campus on Merin Road includes a house. Each year, we invite a resident to live in the house, serving both a functional and a missional purpose. The functional purpose is to have a consistent presence on site to help secure the house and chapel and land. The missional purpose is to support the Advocate’s ministry of hospitality to parishioners, neighbors, and visitors.
Applicants should be single adults, or an adult living singly for the year, in a time of vocational discernment (such as seminary or graduate school) who would benefit vocationally as well as financially from living in a church setting. Residents will be chosen based on their ability to fulfill the purposes stated above. The residency will be for a period of one year (from July/August to July/August). Pets are not permitted. People of the Advocate or others under the primary pastoral care or supervision of the Vicar may not apply.
Availability of the Advocate House Resident position will be announced on the church website (theadvocatechurch.org) on March 1 of the year in which the residency will begin.
The Advocate House Residency Application should be submitted by April 15 of the year in which the residency will begin. The Vicar, with the advice of the Vestry, will select finalists from the field of applicants for a personal interview. The Vicar, with the advice of the Vestry, will select the applicant who is the best match for the purposes stated above and will offer him/her the resident position., contingent upon criminal background check. Applicants will be notified by May 1st or by 2 weeks after Easter, whichever is later.
Questions and applications should be addressed to: The Advocate Church Office
8410 Merin Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
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.
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
MOTHER MARY & FEMININE DIVINE 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
8410 Merin Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Facebook event page:
It’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:
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 Vicar@TheAdvocateChurch.org