On Faith

Longtime IFC leader Chris Moran steps down

Raleigh News & ObserverJuly 22, 2013 

After almost 30 years of service to the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service as its first full-time executive director, Chris Moran has retired.

The board of directors accepted his resignation and retirement, effective July 1.

Among his accomplishments are the development of Project HomeStart, the center for homeless women and children on Homestead Road; the planned Community House for homeless men, now under construction off Martin Luther King. Jr. Boulevard; the proposed Food First center to combine the Community Kitchen and the Food Pantry; and the Robert Nixon Free Clinic for the Homeless, which now includes a mental health clinic.

“As a partner agency of the United Way of the Greater Triangle, Moran pushed the IFC to achieve the Agency of Excellence designation,” the board said in a statement. “He guided the IFC through good economic times and bad, always seeking services and funds for those in need.

Moran was a tireless advocate of the homeless. The new men’s shelter, opposed by many neighbors, will focus on transitional services aimed at moving men into jobs and permanent housing. It will also contain overnight beds for emergency shelter, a role Moran said the IFC will continue to fill until another community agency stepped forward.

In a 2010 letter to The Chapel Hill News after a story on rising food stamps and free school lunch enrollment, Moran said Orange County’s poor and working poor are often unseen by the larger community – but not by the IFC.

“The shocking fact that Orange County, particularly Chapel Hill, is ‘poorer than most of North Carolina’ has always been true,” he wrote. “Our founders knew this was true and it has been reported once again that poverty numbers are growing. We should all be disturbed that poverty now represents one in five of us. We wonder when ridding ourselves of local poverty will become a community undertaking that will provide real change for our neighbors.”

John Dorward, associate director, will serve as the IFC’s interim executive director while a search is underway to fill the vacancy.

Silent retreat

The 2013 silent retreat offered by the Contemplative Prayer Groups of Church of the Advocate and Church of the Holy Family is set for Aug. 2-4 at Avila Retreat Center, 711 Mason Road in Durham.

The retreat is open to host congregations and neighboring congregations. The goal of the retreat is “to learn what silence can teach us, how God can reach us and to pray both in community and in solitude.”

The cost for room and board for two nights is $150. The registration deadline is Friday. Contact Char Sullivan at charbsullivan@gmail.com or 919-542-2521.

Copies of the book “The Cloud of Unknowing” are available for $10. For information about contemplative prayer, visit theadvocatechurch.org/?page­id=231.

Take and Read

The Take and Read book program, created and continued by Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church, has recently received a generous donation of books from friends in the community.

The program provides books to children in Chatham County who may have few books in their homes. Both new and used books are given through food pantries, health clinics, the Boys & Girls Club, and Head Start.

Among those making recent donations:

• A 4-year-old boy asked his friends to bring books to his birthday party instead of presents for him. He wanted to donate them “to kids who did not have books.”

• The manager of Hudson News at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport is organizing a book donation.

• A reading teacher, now retired, who buys good children’s books at thrift shops and donates them.

Donors can receive a tax receipt for donating books. The church also provides some direct funding to pay for new ones. Books may be left in the narthex of the church on Sundays or in the church office during the week. The church is located at 314 Great Ridge Parkway in Chapel Hill.

Food, farming conference

Summoned Toward Wholeness: A Conference on Food, Farming and the Life of Faith is set for Sept. 27-28 at Duke Divinity School in Durham and Anathoth Community Garden in Orange County.

Scripture portrays God as a gardener, farmer and shepherd. It describes Jesus as “the bread of life,” who invites people to the Lord’s table so they can learn to feed his sheep. It is easy to read the Bible and see that God cares about food and agriculture.

Participants in this event will hear plenary speakers Ellen F. Davis, Joel Satatin, Scott Cairns, Norman Wirzba and 12 workshop leaders that will explore the multiple connections between food, farming and the life of faith.

This event is hosted by Duke Divinity School, Wake Forest University School of Divinity, Blessed Earth and Anathoth Community Garden.

Anathoth Garden had its beginning in 2005 when a man was murdered at his bait and tackle store down the road from the current garden site. In response, Cedar Grove United Methodist Church held a prayer vigil for healing and peace at the site of the murder.

At the prayer vigil, two visions came together. Scenobia Taylor, a black woman, had a vision to donate 5 acres of her family’s land to the church for the healing of the community; the Rev. Grace Hackney, the pastor of the predominantly white Cedar Grove church, was also exploring ways that the community could reconcile with the land by growing food sustainably.

Because of the efforts of the church, the pastor and Fred Bahnson – the garden’s first director – the two visions grew into Anathoth Community Garden.

It was named after the place in the story in Jeremiah 29, where Jeremiah buys a field and urges the Israelites in exile to make peace with their circumstances by planting gardens.

The mission at Anathoth has been to cultivate peace by using regenerative agriculture to connect people with their neighbors, the land and God.

Scholarships for the conference are available for seminary students and rural United Methodist pastors. For information, contact Laura Leaveil at Laura@blessedearth.org. For more information and to register, go to divinity.duke.edu/summoned.

Send your faith news to flo.johnston314@gmail.com.


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