ChurchLands

In 2018, the Episcopal Church’s General Convention passed Resolution D053: Stewardship of Creation with Church-Owned Lands, which affirmed that church-owned land holds the potential for ecological benefit, community healing, and ministries of discipleship and evangelism. The newly formed ChurchLands initiative seeks to inspire and equip church leaders who are tasked with the care of church-owned land. 

With our 15 acres of land, and a commitment to be good stewards of that land, The Advocate seems like a good prospective participant in the program!

The vision of ChurchLands is to inspire and assist churches in stewarding land in a way that is faithful to the Gospel: integrating discipleship, ecology, justice, and health. In its pilot stage, ChurchLands will develop a small group of Christian leaders learning and working together on land use issues in their local contexts.

This cohort has been selected, but we can still be involved!

In the seasons ahead, ChurchLands will offer regular in-person gatherings to explore Scripture, practical theology, and land use issues for Christians who care for land. An online ChurchLands Network will serve as a national platform to inspire and engage this work through network building and resource-sharing. The ChurchLands initiative will be managed through Plainsong Farm & Ministry in Rockford, Michigan, a ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan. 

Folks can participate by connecting with current cohort members, participating in webinars, or as prayer partners. For more information, contact Emma Lietz Bilecky emmalietz@gmail.com.

Teachable Moment this Season of Epiphany

It is customary at the Advocate to seek opportunities in the Season of Epiphany to learn more about the community and world around us.

To that end, here is the calendar for the Teachable Moment in the weeks ahead:

Sunday, January 12 Justine Post tells about her ministry on death row.

Sunday, January 19 Marcia Owen tells about her work in restorative justice

Sunday, January 26 David Stanford from Re-Entry and William Ingram and Calvin Trollinger from the Orange County Correctional Institution, will help us to know more about Re-Entry.

Sunday, February 2 We won’t be having Teachable Moment because we will be having our annual meeting instead!

Sunday, February 9 Hudson Vaughan will help us to know about the Marion Cheek Jackson Center and the racial history of our neighborhood and region.

Sunday, February 16 Rob Stephens will tell us about his work with the Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington to be held June 20, 2020.

Sunday, February 23 Adam Plant, actor with a Masters in Divinity from Wake Forest, will share his experience as a trans man in the church and in the world.

All are welcome! Child care and kids Christian ed provided at the same time.

Sankofa: African-American History on Wheels MLK weekend

Sunday, January 19 and Monday, January 20
Noon – 5:30 PM.
At the Rogers Road Community Center

101 Edgar Street, Chapel Hill.

This MLK weekend, The Church of the Advocate joins the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association, Community Center, the Marion Cheek Jackson Center, the Town of Carrboro, the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NCAAP Branch 5689, in bringing the Sankofa African-American History on Wheels to our region.

From the flyer:
Angela Jennings established SANKOFA in 1995 to teach young African Americans about their unique and rich heritage. It has emerged as an informative and engaging mobil museum of African American history for all ages and races.

Spanning the period of 1860 to the present, Sankofa takes audiences on a journey through slavery, the era of King Cotton, and the uplifting days of Emancipation. It also tells the stories of such notables as Ida B. Wells, the Negro Baseball League, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Ghanian term, Sankofa, tells us to “use the wisdom of the past to build the future.” This exhibit epitomizes the meaning of the term by educating, enlightening, and empower gin young and old alike with living history.

Plan to join others at the Roger Road Community Center this MLK weekend!

Numbering Our Days. A day of reflection and creativity in January

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a wisdom of heart.” – Psalm 90:12

How can we better lean into God’s vision for us as we enter into 2020? Spend the day with the Band of Sisters as we assemble cloth, paper, thread, and…voila!…create a personal notebook and calendar for the new year. This lovely, small format book will easily slip into a bag so you can capture your inspirations as you make your way through the days, weeks, and months of 2020.

9am-3pm on Saturday, January 11 at The Episcopal Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill

Your $40 registration fee includes all materials for the day. (if you need assistance for the registration fee, please contact vicar@theAdvocateChurch.org)

Bring a bag lunch – we will provide coffee, tea, and water throughout the day.

The Band of Sisters is a group of women dedicated to providing opportunities for people of faith, especially women, to gather in a prayerful setting in order to learn about and share their experiences of faith. Our goal is to form and encourage a Christian community of women who seek to grow spiritually. While we are of the Christian tradition, we welcome people of all faiths. Our gatherings include days of reflection, retreats, and opportunities to serve others in need.

Visit bandofsistersraleigh.com and click on the Calendar Page to register.


Are You the One Who Is to Come?

A sermon by The Rev. Nathan E. Kirkpatrick. Advent III. December 15, 2019

If you have ever lost faith in something
– in a cause or a candidate,
   in an organization or an institution –
If you have ever given your all
       only to find that your all is not enough,
If you have ever found yourself despairing or disillusioned,
If you have ever found the road steep and the way hard
       And you have wondered if it is worth walking at all,
           Then you have a friend in John the Baptist.

Our morning gospel finds John in prison;
In fact, in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life,
John has been in prison for almost seven chapters.
So long that he has missed
Jesus’ sermon on the mount, the Beatitudes,
   and The Lord’s Prayer.
He has been incarcerated as Jesus has already healed many,
Raised at least one from the dead,
   And stilled a storm at sea.
While Jesus was laying all the foundations of his public ministry,
John was a religious and political prisoner
   Of a narcissistic megalomaniac
       Who resented the fact that John
           tried to hold him accountable for his unethical behavior.
You remember John is in prison
Because he had publicly objected to Herod
Taking his brother’s wife as his own.
As the gospel of Luke tells it:
   “But Herod the tetrarch,
   being rebuked by [John]
   about Herodias, his brother’s wife,
   and about all the [other] evil things Herod had done,
   added this to everything else –
   he locked John up in prison” (Luke 3:19-20<https://biblia.com/bible/nasb95/Luke%203.19-20>).
And in prison, after more than a while in prison,
After missing all the foundations of Jesus’ public ministry,
A no-doubt weary John the Baptist
sends a question to Jesus,
one of the most haunting questions in scripture.
“Are you the one who is to come,
Or should we wait for another?” (Matthew 11.2).

To hear the pathos in the question,
to hear the heartbreak,
to really hear it,
we have to remember that this is John –
John, whose birth had been announced by an angel,
John, who, in utero, had been present
   to hear Mary’s song
       as Jesus’ mother sang it to John’s mother.
This is John whose own sense
of calling and purpose
was to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah –
   The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
   Prepare the way of the Lord,
   make his paths straight.
   Every valley shall be filled,
   and every mountain and hill made low.
   The crooked straight,
   and the rough places plain,
   and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
This is John who had preached to the masses
about repentance and transformation.
This is John who had said of himself,
   After me comes one who is mightier than I …
   I baptize you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit..
This is John who baptized Jesus,
and at that baptism, watched as the heavens were opened,
watched as the Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove,
and who had heard there a voice from heaven thunder –
“You are my Son; with you I am well-pleased.”
This is that John,
who now is asking,
“are you the one who is to come
or should we wait for another?”
As I hear it,
If John is not outright losing faith,
he is certainly losing heart.

Now, to be fair about it,
there are biblical interpreters who say
that this is more of a rhetorical question,
that John sends Jesus the question
on behalf of all the people
who had heard John’s preaching across the years,
who themselves may have begun to wonder,
who themselves may have begun to ask –
“John seemed so certain that this Jesus was the Messiah,
but look what’s happened to John.
Is Jesus really the One? Or was John wrong?”
So, these biblical interpreters suggest that
perhaps John is raising the question
not really for himself
but for all of these others
who might now have a doubt or two,
who might be wondering
if this is the One who has come to set all people free
if He can’t even get John out of Herod’s jail.
Sort of the opposite of
what most of us mean when we say,
“I’m just asking for a friend…”.

You can see, you can hear
what these interpreters are doing, right?
They’re wanting to protect John,
John, the one with the resume I just read to you,
from the possibility of doubt
precisely because of that resume.
They’re wanting to say,
“no, no, nothing to see here,”
because, perhaps
if a person with that resume
has doubts,
what does that mean for the rest of us mere mortals?
If John, after all of that,
could find himself despairing – even for a moment –
what would that mean for all of the rest of us
who have spiritual resumes that pale in comparison?

But, for a moment,
I wonder what would happen
if we don’t try to protect John.
If instead of saying,
“oh, that’s so sweet of him,
he’s faking some doubt
so that the crowd gets to hear Jesus say,
‘yeah, yeah, I’m the one,’
how benevolent of John” –
what if, instead,
what if we say
that maybe, just maybe,
John’s life, John’s circumstances
had made it hard for him
to hold on to belief even for just a moment?
I, for one, think that that
might make him more important for us rather than less.
I, for one, think that that
wouldn’t tarnish his halo or risk his sainthood at all,
but it might actually confirm his humanity and his sainthood.
Rather than the caricatured firebrand preacher,
John might be a bit more accessible to us,
a bit more familiar to us.
It may also help explain why –
as Fleming Rutledge, the preacher and scholar, notes –
John, not Jesus, is the central figure of Advent.
If we don’t try to protect John,
then, for any of us who have ever wondered
if Jesus is the One we have been waiting for,
for any of us whose lives have made it hard to believe,
then, for us, we have a newfound friend in John.

Here’s my hunch –
if I’m wrong, you can tell me at Teachable Moment or lunch.
My hunch is that most of us
at some point or another
have looked out at the world through
all kinds of prison bars -literal, metaphorical –
and have wanted to know
if we have put our faith in the right Messiah,
we have wanted an answer –
“Are you the One? Or shall we wait for another?”
Which is so much deeper,
so much harder,
than losing faith in a cause or a candidate,
in an organization or an institution,
it is so much harder than giving our all and finding it not enough,
so much harder than walking the road and finding it tough-going
because, in each of those moments,
if faith is true, then we have faith to lean on.
But, if faith falters, then, so, too, does the very hope that sustains us.
What if John is asking for himself
and giving us words for our experience, too –
are you the One or do we have to keep waiting?

It’s a perfect third Sunday of Advent kind of question,
when, in a normal year, the walk to Christmas starts to feel long.
When maybe we’re ready to be done with Advent hymns
as beautiful as they are and just sing a Christmas carol or two.
When maybe we’re done with waiting.
Two Sundays ago, I was with
the folks of the Episcopal campus ministry at Duke
for their Sunday evening Eucharist,
and several of the students
were talking before mass
by the advent wreath.
And at the Episcopal Center,
their Advent wreath
has different colored candles –
three purple and one pink –
for the Sundays in Advent.
And the students were discussing why there was a pink candle.
One of them finally said,
“did you ever think that maybe they were just tired of purple?”

Maybe you know something about being tired of purple,
tired of waiting for God; weary of wondering if or when life will change.
Maybe John’s question is yours:
Are you the One or do we have to keep waiting?

In Matthew’s Gospel,
Jesus answers John’s question.
“Go and tell John what you see …
that the blind see, the deaf hear,
the sick are healed, the dead live again,
and the poor have good news preached to them.”
For us, Jesus might answer it this way:
Go and tell what you hear and see –
that the community that gathers in my name
brings food for the hungry,
builds Tiny Homes for the homeless,
welcomes strangers and makes them friends,
cares for those who are hurting and for those who are healing,
marches for justice and prays for peace,
gives time and treasure to change the world.
If you have ever asked, if you have ever wondered,
if John’s question is yours today –
Hold on to what you hear and see,
because our waiting is almost over.
Amen.

The Rev. Nathan E. Kirkpatrick

House Dinner — Wednesday evenings (and occasional Thursdays) at 7 PM

The Wednesday (or occasional Thursday) House Dinners provide a place of shared food, shared stories, and deep fellowship. The hosts provide an atmosphere of welcome, mutual care, and good humor.

House Dinner is a time of togetherness over a shared meal, concluding with an invitation to respond to an open-ended prompt, often about an idea or concept (e.g., “shelter,” “grace,” “Christmas spirit”).

You don’t need to bring anything but yourself. All are welcome any time. If you are able, it helps if you can let the organizers know you are coming and if you can contribute food to the meal, so they can be sure the food and setting are gracious and welcoming.

The House Dinner takes place on Wednesday, night at 7 PM except for when other events are scheduled at the church on that night, such at the Readers Roundtable on second Wednesdays, or a seasonal book study, as in Lent. On those weeks, the House Dinner moves to Thursday night at 7 PM.

Check the weekly calendar on the Advocate website or this document: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1imsKieu1P4Q-fVj6pJWZdSLATOj6K3bSQacFUKT26qs/edit?usp=sharing
Contact Elliot Krause <elliot.krause6@gmail.com> if you have any questions.

Advocate long sleeve t-shirts available

Our Bishop, Sam Rodman, and our Vicar, Lisa Fischbeck, enjoy the shirt in red and in grey.

Advocate 15th Anniversary  t-shirts in grey or red are available in kids small and medium, and in adults small, medium and large.

On the front, the shirts read:
ADVOCATE
BE THE NOUN
DO THE VERB

On the back, the shirts read:
Welcoming people of every kind of household and at every stage of life and faith and doubt since 2003 – The Advocate. (and there’s an image of the Advo-cat, Smoke)

A donation of $15 is requested for each shirt.
Cash or write checks to ECOTA, with T-shirt in the memo line.

Shirts are available at the Church House, especially on Sundays.

For an additional $7.50 plus you address, we will send one to you!

You can order in two ways:

  1. Online. Send your mailing information and your size to:
    The Advocate Church Office <theadvocatechurch@gmail.com>
    Then go to our online donation page and donate $22,50 (or more!). For convenience, use the general operating fund designation. We will assume that gifts of $22.50 are intended for t-shirt purchase and mailing. But will need an email let us know where to send it!
  2. Send a check and your size in the mail to:
    Advocate t-shirts
    8410 Merin Road
    Chapel Hill, NC  27516

 

 

We are now debt free!

The story of Advocate Loans and Debt
In 2013, The Advocate was at the peak of our campaign to worship on the land. We had raised the funds to buy the land and to move what would become The Advocate Chapel, and we still needed to restore the chapel and to get the site up to code for use by a church (parking lot, sewer, pond repair, etc. etc.). We had raised a lot of money (over $1.7 million), but not enough. So we took out two loans

 

First, a $180,000 loan from an anonymous individual loaner. This is the loan that we paid off in January 2018, after a lot of hard work and generosity from Advocates and friends, including a final $20,000 from the loaner!

Second, a $150,000 loan from the North Carolina Episcopal Church Foundation. This loan was taken out in 2013,  to be paid at 2% interest over 10 years, ending in 2023.
For 5 years, the $15,000 a year and the 2% interest were budgeted in the Advocate’s Annual Budget. In January, 2018, though, we began to accelerate the payments, knowing that the sooner we paid off this loan, the sooner we could use that $15,000 a year to augment our life and ministry instead.

When we had $50,000 left to go, a generous friend offered to match any gift given, up to $20,000, in time for the 15th Anniversary of the Advocate’s launch on September 21, 2018, bringing us within $10,000 of our final goal. And we did it!

But we still had $10,000 to go …

In the days that followed, enthusiastic support kept coming in. It was amazing. And sure enough, by the time of our official 15th Anniversary Celebration, October 21, the final $10,000 was in.

The Church of the Advocate is now DEBT-FREE!

This is, quite frankly, stunning.

Thank you!

 

Readers Roundtable 2nd Wednesdays at 7

IMG_0382The Readers Roundtable gathers the second Wednesday of the month, 7:00-8:30 PM in the Advocate House  to talk about a book selected by those who participated in the Roundtable the previous month. Books are largely fiction, but are not limited to fiction.
Books so far have included Rachel Held Evans’ Searching for Sunday, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Mary Doris Russell’s The Sparrow, and Mary Oliver’s Thirst, Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River, Wendell Berry’s A Place on Earth, and Louise Erdrich’s Last Report on the Miracles of Little No Horse.

Each month the conversation is open to everyone and their friends.

In the season ahead, here are the books that will be discussed:

Readers’ Roundtable – Fall ’19 – Spring ’20 Selections

Second Wednesday of the Month, 7:00-8:30 PM

At the Church House

October 9:  Everything Happens for a Reason, and Other Lies I’ve Loved, by Kate Bowler. The frank and funny, dark and wise story of this Duke Divinity School professor, who re-examines her understanding of life through a terminal illness.

November 13: A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. An aristocrat under house arrest in a luxury hotel under Bolshevik rule discovers purpose in this humorously descriptive novel.

January 8: Ten Poems to Change Your Life, by Roger Housden. Ten heart-stirring poems which, along with the author’s reflections, may be a useful Epiphany meditation.

February 12: The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s first novel provokes questions about race, class and gender.

May 13: The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood. The critically acclaimed sequel to The Handmaid’s tale, taking place more than fifteen years later. The lives of three radically different women converge in Gilead.

The Readers’ Roundtable meets at 7 – 8:30 pm in the Advocate House.

All are welcome!

Whether you’ve read the book or not, all are always welcome to join in the conversation!
For further information, contact Hilda Bukowski: hldscll2@gmail.com