New help is coming for residents in the North Raleigh area who are hurting economically, emotionally, and spiritually. Where is that help coming from? It may just be...from you.
"All of us have gifts that we've been given," says Judy Hoffman. "You need to find a gift you can share."
Hoffman is helping to lead the new effort, called Love INC -- or Love in the Name of Christ. It's a national ministry with independent local branches. A new North Raleigh branch is starting up, combining the talents and resources of several North Raleigh churches of various denominations, networking together.
"It's a relationship ministry to help people in various ways," Hoffman says, "particularly people who are in need of money, food, housing, clothing, furniture, all kinds of ways like that. It's basically not just to help them with a short-term need but to assign them someone who will help mentor them, be friends, see them through the crisis they're in, and in that process share the gospel with them."
Here's how it will work: the person or family in need would go to the Love INC office, which will be a type of clearinghouse for the churches in the network. The client will fill out the paperwork and meet with a staffer who will help determine their specific needs. That staffer will have a list of people from the participating churches who can help meet the need. Then the work begins to match up the client with the appropriate volunteer(s).
"What we find in the benevolence area," Hoffman told me, "is that people go from church to church to church asking for these things. If they're asking for their light bill to be paid, we want to sit down with them and help counsel them in how to get their finances organized so they can pay for that light bill themselves the next month -- not go to yet another church in the area to ask for the bill to be paid."
She says right now about half a dozen evangelical churches in North Raleigh have signed up for Love INC, including Asbury United Methodist, First Assembly, and Providence Baptist. Several others have expressed interest. The ministry has received its incorporation papers and charity registration and will soon be looking office space and an executive director. The goal is to kick things off the first of the year.
Hoffman says it will be a low-overhead operation, with volunteers as its heart and soul. "Some of the churches in this already have up to 75 percent of the people in their church body involved in the Love INC organization. Whether it's driving someone to the doctor once a month, whether it's tutoring a child, whether it's babysitting for someone, we all have some time in the week or in the month that we could do something for somebody. This is a real effort to get the body of Christ out in the community, helping people in love."
The Bishop has started Tweeting.
The Most Reverend Michael Burbidge, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, entered the digital world of social networking this week, sending out his first messages on Twitter. The Diocese says Bishop Burbidge will use Twitter "to offer regular reflections, items of interest and updates." Find out how you can receive Tweets from him at this link.
Christmas shopping at a synagogue? You can do it this Sunday at Raleigh's Beth Meyer, which will host a Holiday Fair from 10am to 4pm. Vendors will offer toys, clothing, jewelry, personalized books, and more.
Rabbi Eric Solomon tells his congregants in the synagogue's newsletter that "while the vast majority of vendors and participants will be Jewish, we have intentionally made the event open to the entire Raleigh community. Therefore, we expect that a significant number of shoppers will be looking for gifts for their Christmas stockings.”
He writes, “Our country is one of the very few in the world where people of different religions can sit down with one another and honor each other‘s practices without conflict, denigration, or syncretism.”