A reception honoring the Rev. Mel Williams, pastor at Watts Street Baptist, on the 40th
anniversary of his ordination as a minister will be held after the 11 a.m. worship service on Sunday, Oct. 25.
Williams, who came to Watts Street 21 years ago, grew up here in North Carolina in a small Moore County town, graduating from Aberdeen High School in a class of 38 students and from Wake Forest University and Yale Divinity School.
So how did a country boy, born in a log cabin, the oldest of four brothers whose dad was a truck driver for 40 years, make the leap to divinity school in the Ivy League?
Williams said this week that his call to the ministry was a gradual process, no blinding light or burning bush. "The call came as a steady candle first lit by my minister, Denny Spear, who came as pastor at First Baptist Church in Aberdeen when I was about 14."
This pastor, who became his mentor and role model, taught him that he could be a minister and a human being at the same time, he said. During his senior year in high school, he made the decision to become a minister. This was at the time his pastor resigned after the church voted not to seat African-Americans for worship.
The pastor said, "I cannot in good conscience serve a church that would vote contrary to my understanding of the Gospel." That decision, Williams said, set his course for "a ministry of faith and conscience."
He went to Yale because a member of that Aberdeen church offered to be his "financial daddy" and told him to pick one of the best schools and not to worry about the money.
"Coming from a family with no money, this was an amazing grace moment," Williams said.
Both Williams and his next brother, Ken, are ministers. His brother is pastor of First Baptist in Rochester, N.Y.
"In my years as a pastor, my central focus has been the joining of spiritual practice and social justice," Williams said. "Jesus was a mystic and a social reformer. Where he leads, I seek to follow.
"These 40 years have flown by. I'm fortunate to be a part of wonderful, maverick Baptist congregations."Discovering the deepest truths
Liz Dowling-Sendor, an Episcopal priest and former journalist, will lead a weekly writing workshop on Wednesdays until Nov. 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South, 1202 Watts St. She is a writer in residence at the center.
Participants will deal with such ideas as how to tell the deepest truths of their lives, how to come to terms with difficulties like pain, grief, regret, and loss, and how to gain new perspectives leading to healing and growth in a non-judgmental, safe and nourishing circle. The cost is $80.
Call the center at 683-1236 for more information or visit www.rcwms.org
.Fall fest at Faith Alliance
Faith Alliance Church, 1309 Umstead Road, will hold its Fall Festival today, Oct. 24, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This is a free event and will feature games for children, including a giant slide and jump house, a cake walk and hot dogs, sno cones and cotton candy.'Leadership in difficult times'
The Deans' Dialogue series at Duke University will begin with a lunchtime conversation about "Leadership in difficult times" between Duke Chapel Dean Sam Wells and Duke Medicine Dean Nancy Andrews on Wednesday, Oct. 28.
The 12:15 p.m. event is free and open to the public and takes place in the Duke Clinic Amphitheater located in the basement of Duke Clinic, across from the food court. Lunch refreshments will be served.
"If our great universities fail to form leaders able to make difficult decisions for the common good, then who will?" said Gaston Warner, Duke Chapel's university and community relations director and organizer of the series. "Duke Chapel hopes to raise such larger issues of common concern through these ongoing dialogues."St. Stephen's Concert Series
St. Stephen's Episcopal will begin its 27th
Concert Series at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 25, featuring Andrew Tyson, pianist.
In a pre-concert interview from 3 to 3:30 p.m. in the parish hall, Dr. Joe Kitchen will discuss the music on the concert program with Tyson. This is open to concert-goers.
A native of Durham and a parishioner of St. Stephen's, Tyson is entering his final year of studies with Claude Frank at the Curtis Institute of Music. In December, he will perform Ernest Bloch's 1919 Viola Suite with Roberto Diaz at the Library of Congress as part of a celebration of the 50th
anniversary of Bloch's death.
Single tickets are $15. Season subscription to all five concerts is $50 per person, with free admission for ages 18 and under.Gethsemane church homecoming
Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church, 906 S. Roxboro St., will celebrate its 89th
Homecoming on Sunday, Oct. 25. It will be dedicated to the memory of the late pastor, the Rev. V. E. Brown and First Lady Ocia M. Brown.
The speaker for the 11 a.m. service will be the Rev. Darius J. Jeffries of Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Cocoa, Fla. The homecoming meal will be served immediately after the service.
A gospel musical program is set for 3 p.m. and will feature several choirs, including the Sons of New Bethel, Mt. Vernon Baptist Male Chorus of Creedmoor, soloist Mario Elam, the Reddish Family, Bell-Yeager Male Chorus, Markham Chapel Chancellor Choir, soloist Carolyn Taborn Howard and the Gethsemane Mass Choir.
The public is invited to attend.Faith and the Environment conference
A conference on Faith and the Environment is set for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30-31, at Pilgrim United Church of Christ, 3011 Academy Road.
The keynote address Friday, Oct. 30, on "Faith and the Environment" will be given by Dr. Norman Wirzba, research professor of theology, ecology and rural life at Duke Divinity School. The Friday event is from 6 to 9 p.m. and will include dinner.
On Saturday, Oct. 31, the keynote speaker will be the Rev. Michael McClain, a state coordinator for the Climate and Energy Campaign of the National Council of Churches.
The Saturday program begins at 8:30 a.m. and continues until 3 p.m. with lunch included. Issue and action workshops include the following topics: global warming, water resources at risk, stewardship of materials, and more.
Pre-registration is requested using forms at www.pilgrimucc-durham.org
or by calling 489-1381. The cost is $5 per day, per person. Day of the event registration will be accepted, but meals may not be available.N. Durham churches get set worship times
The Rougemont United Methodist Charge that includes three churches in northern Durham County, Rougemont, New Bethel and Union Grove, has adopted a new schedule for worship services. Beginning Nov. 1, each church will have a permanent worship time on Sunday: Rougemont, 9 a.m.; New Bethel, 11 a.m.; and Union Grove, 5:30 p.m.
The Rev. Cheryl Lawrence was assigned to the charge and began her work last summer. She previously served Carr United Methodist.Community luncheon
The Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham will hold its Community Luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 29, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Shepherds House United Methodist Church, 107 N. Drive St.
Members will celebrate 10 years of good work by the Durham County Gun Safety Team, a gun injury and death prevention program sponsored by the Durham County Public Health Department and conducted by local volunteers.Holy Ghost Weenie Roast
Christian Assembly Church will host the Holy Ghost Weenie Roast for the community on Halloween night from 6 to 9 p.m. as a safe, fun alternative to trick-or-treating.
Hot dogs and drinks, lots of candy, happy costumes, face painting, a moonwalk, hay rides, games and giveaways are all on the menu.
This is a free event and all ages are welcome. The church is located at 5516 N. Roxboro Road, across the street from Northern High School.Hope Valley Baptist concert
The Biney English Family Ministries, a trio composed of Biney English, his wife Beverley, and son Sean, will be singing in the sanctuary at Hope Valley Baptist Church, 6900 Garrett Road, at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 25. Admission is free.A 'Perfect' talk
"Perfecting Ourselves to Death" is the name of a book on perfectionism and will be the topic for discussion with the author, Dr. Richard Winter, in a presentation on Saturday, Oct. 31, at Church of the Good Shepherd, 3741 Garrett Road.
Winter is a psychiatrist and professor of practical theology at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. He will explore the positive and negative effects of perfectionism in a culture that encourages all to strive for the perfect body, perfect clothes, perfect family, perfect house and perfect job.
Registration is $10 for the session, which will be held from 9 to 11:30 a.m. A copy of the speaker's book will be given to those who pre-register by Oct. 25. Registration at the door on the day of the event is $10. Contact the Rev. Sean Radke at 490-1634, ext 10, or firstname.lastname@example.org