21 graduate from Durham Rescue Mission

The Durham Rescue Mission graduated 21 men and women in its annual Victory Program graduation last week in Storr Chapel, 1201 E. Main St. Guest speaker was the Rev. Chuck Perkins, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Mebane who is also a member of the mission’s board.

Many of these men and women graduates were in crisis when they entered the Victory Program at the Mission. They have fought against addictions, homelessness, abusive relationships and other bad choices in their pasts to achieve this goal.

Linda McNeil, for example, arrived at the Good Samaritan Inn, depressed and badly in need of a place to live. She had recently lost her mom, been laid off from her job and was newly diagnosed with cancer.

In addition to her graduation, she is already employed with Royal Threads.

As part of the graduation program, the Victory Choir performed several numbers under the direction and accompaniment of Mary Vande Guchte, volunteer choir director.

“Many of these graduates have never before finished anything in their lives,” said Dr. Ernie Mills, mission founder.

“They are our joy and crown. This day represents a tremendous accomplishment in their lives. Today, we encourage them to continue in the things they have learned.”

A reception was held after the ceremony in the Center of Hope’s Clegg Dining Hall for guests to meet the graduates.

Sexuality in church

A Judicial Council in the United Methodist Church handed down a decision at the end of April that does not ease the highly charged ongoing disagreement in matters of human sexuality across the denomination, nor does it change the church’s “Book of Discipline.”

Some observers believe this divisive issue has potential for schism in the church.

The official church position continues to be that the nomination, election, consecration and assignment of Karen Oliveto, a gay woman as a bishop in the Western Jurisdiction violated church law. However, the decision allows Bishop Oliveto “to remain in ‘good standing’ until an administrative or judicial process is completed.”

Only the UMC’s General Conference speaks for the church and has authority to change the “Book of Discipline.”

The 2016 General Conference approved the Council of Bishops creating a commission to examine and possibly revise church law dealing with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer United Methodists, with the prospect of bishops calling a special General Conference in 2018 or 2019 to act on the commission’s recommendations.

Bishops recently named a 32-member commission and announced they’re planning for a special General Conference in early 2019 to act on commission recommendations.

Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, noted in a statement to all bishops in the church that “impatience and anxiety permeate the United Methodist Church over the matter of human sexuality, and particularly this case. Our compassion and prayers of intercession extend to all those who are hurt, relieved, confused or fearful.”

Some mainline denominations, including Presbyterian, Episcopal, United Church of Christ, Lutheran, Unitarian, and even progressive Baptist, have already dealt with the issue of gay leadership and gone back to channeling their energy toward being the church.


Angelus, a singing ensemble of seven young women from Mt. Vernon Senior High School Fine Arts Academy in Indiana, will be in concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 210 St. Mary’s Road, Hillsborough.

Featuring music ranging from Medieval chant and polyphony to contemporary Irish choral music and the American Sacred Harp tradition, the ensemble’s influences include the Irish choral ensemble “Anuna,” the American quartet “Anonymous 4” and the Canadian trio “The Wailin’ Jennys.”

Concert admission is free but donations will be accepted.

St. Matthew’s Faith & the Arts Series began in 2010 as a result of the church’s desire to be more intentional in their support of the arts and artist; to challenge and deepen faith through exposure to the arts; and to use sacred space as a setting for artistic expression.

Rule change

The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s office of Public Witness has sent out an Action Alert across the church regarding a bill before Congress that would change rules making it impossible for PCUSA and other similar entities to engage with large companies and file shareholder resolutions, which do things like ask companies to report on their climate change planning efforts and provide staff training on how to recognize victims of human trafficking.

In 1971, the 183rd General Assembly affirmed that church investment is an instrument of mission and includes theological, social and ethical considerations. Church investors work in pursuit of peace, racial justice, economic and social justice and in the establishment of environmental responsibility.

This work becomes almost impossible without access to shareholder meetings and company leadership.

Church members are encouraged to reach out to members of Congress and encourage them to oppose suggested changes to the shareholder proposal process now included in Section 844 of the Financial Choice Act 2.0.

Contact Flo Johnston at