Before the leaves change color and even before hints of red and green are in stores, someone is thinking about Advent. Music ministers plan Christmas cantatas and concerts months before churchgoers add them to their calendars.
At Hope Valley Baptist Church in Durham, the choir received the music in August for this year’s Christmas cantata, “Appalachian Winter” by North Carolina-raised composer Joseph M. Martin.
As a parishioner at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church for 24 years, with 13 of those as parish secretary, Jean Losee has been involved with the Hope Valley church’s annual Thanksgiving Ingathering. Each November the church and its preschool gather food donations to deliver to the Durham Rescue Mission for its food pantry and Thanksgiving dinner served to those in need.
Without realizing it, Diana Haynes’ faith had developed cobwebs of intellectual smugness and grown stagnant, she said. She had been comfortable with her Christian faith, but then she experienced a different kind of church service – Taize.
UNC music professor, composer and pianist Stephen Anderson grew up in Dallas, Texas, where he said he was exposed to equal parts religious fervor and religious bigotry. “That fueled in me a desire to study religious history,” and to understand his own Mormon faith, as well as other faiths, he said.
In “Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith,” 40 essay writers under age 40 have given voice to things they don’t usually talk about publicly. Editors Erin S. Lane and Enuma C. Okoro told each of the writers to talk about what’s taboo and let them loose with the topic.
Jim Magaw grew up as a preacher’s kid and was a leader in his church youth group. He considered the ministry, but when he went to college, he stopped going to church altogether. Twenty years passed. In his 30s, he felt the need for a religious community again, and Unitarian Universalism was the best fit.
About noon Wednesdays, a deacon at Mt. Gilead Baptist Church unlocks the side door on the brick church and prepares for noon day prayer. Hymnals are placed at seats around a long table in the fellowship hall. Those who arrive bring their own Bibles and greet each other warmly. They take turns sharing concerns over who isn’t there because of illness. They share the joy of the Lord waking them up that day and bringing them to church. They sing. They study the Bible.