Gregory: Using your spiritual gifts

April 22, 2014 

It was New Year’s Day 2012. After listening to a sermon on using your spiritual gifts, I bowed my head and asked God to show me how he wanted me to use my gift of writing to glorify Him in 2012.

After the church service was over, I forgot about my prayer and went about my day of taking down decorations and getting the kids ready to start back to school. But early the next morning, my phone rang and it was the editor of the North Raleigh News at the time asking me if I wanted to write a brand new Faith in Focus column.

As I hung up the phone after saying yes, I was overwhelmed at the fact that God had chosen to send me such a clear sign as to the direction he wanted me to go. And I knew that I had a just experienced a spiritual moment to hold close if I ever had doubts or questioned my faith.

I started the column thinking that I would be helping the community, but I had no idea how much the people I met and my exposure to different faiths would impact me. I knew that the faith community did a lot of good deeds, but I had no idea how many mission trips, food drives and even simple projects like taking new socks to the homeless happen without fanfare or notice every week.

Seeing the passion and different projects really renewed by desire to give back to the community and helped me get involved in several new causes I learned about through writing this column.

Love God, love others

One of the most eye opening parts of the job was getting to talk with leaders and members of congregations spanning many different religions and denominations. I was especially impressed to find out about several active interfaith groups, including the Community of Historic Churches in downtown Raleigh, a group of churches and synagogues in North Raleigh.

While everyone I talked while writing this column had different religious beliefs from each other, I have to say that love for their neighbor, a passion for their living their faith every day and a desire to do the right thing was present in every single conversation that I had over the past 2 ½ years.

I learned a lot about different religions, but honestly the most important thing I am taking away from writing Faith in Focus is that while there is a lot of focus on the differences between each faith that there is much more that unites all of us together than separates us.

I have also become convinced about how important it is for churches and other faith communities to have a place to get the word out about their Bible studies, fall festivals and concerts. With newspaper space at a premium, most of these events will never make it on the front page of the paper or possibly not in the paper at all.

But not only do most of the events benefit the community, you never know what changes someone’s life for the better. I heard of several people who came to a fish fry, 5K or concert that they read about in my column and ended up attending the church, committing to a faith and turning their life around. No matter how many prestigious bylines I have in my writing career, I am confident that nothing will ever top the feeling of knowing that my words helped make a difference in someone’s life. And I hope that Faith in Focus will remain a part of the community papers for many years to come for that exact reason.

New columnist

So, I today I pass the pen (or actually keyboard) to another Faith in Focus columnist, Carla Turchetti. Carla has been a long time correspondent for the North Raleigh News/Midtown News and is passionate making a difference in the community.

Although I know you will be in great hands with Carla, I am going to miss talking with each of you and writing about the faith community. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for trusting me to share your stories with the community. It has honestly been one of my favorite writing assignments that I have ever had and I know that the lessons I have learned will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Special needs adult coffeehouse

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church will have its monthly coffeehouse for special needs adults from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 25, at the church, 7000 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh. Entertainment will be provided by the Three String Peddlers, a local acoustic band that plays country-blues, folk-rock, and Americana cover songs on a variety of instruments. Transportation is available to this free event. The church is also looking for additional volunteers to help with tasks such as, preparing food, serving refreshments, welcoming guests, providing extra assistance to guests, transportation and cleanup. For more information, call 919-848-1573 or cindybdavis@gmail.com.

Fourth Saturday Breakfast book club

Unity Church of Raleigh is having its Fourth Saturday Breakfast Book Club from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 26, at the church, 11101 Creedmoor Road, Raleigh. The book club will discuss “Discover the Power Within You” by Eric Butterworth, which teaches about the power of applying positive affirmations to your life. Books are $14.95 with a 10 percent discount for attendees, and a love offering will be collected. For more information, email ucrprograms@earthlink.net or visit www.unitychurchofraleigh.org.

U2Charist service Hayes Barton United Methodist Church

Hayes Barton United Methodist Church will be presenting a U2Charist service at 7 p.m. Friday, April 25th and Saturday, April 26th, in the sanctuary at the church, 2209 Fairview Road, Raleigh. The church’s LightHouse band will sing songs from U2’s canon in the context of a communion worship service, including “Vertigo”, “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, “With or Without You”, “One”, “All I Want Is You”, “Angel of Harlem”, “Magnificent”, “and Beautiful Day”.

During the service, worshippers will be challenged to seek global reconciliation and fight for justice for the poor and oppressed. The goals include an end to poverty worldwide, stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS, and primary education for all children. Begun in 2003 in Baltimore, the U2Charist service has spread throughout the world and into different denominations. The music of U2 is used exclusively within the service with a traditional eucharist and communion. The U2Charist is open to the public and a suggested donation of $10 is encouraged. All proceeds go to benefit the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. For more information, visit www.hbumc.org or call 919- 832-6435.

Preschool Art Exhibit

The community is invited to the Annual Young Artists’ Exhibit at 12:15 p.m. Sunday, April 27, at Grace Lutheran Church, at 5010 Six Forks Road, Raleigh. The sale will feature a variety of artwork created by the children attending the School of Grace Preschool. A silent auction including visual art and jewelry will also be held. Children’s activities and refreshments will also be provided. Proceeds from the sale of the children’s artwork and the silent auction will provide scholarships to children of refugee families and families in need. For more information, call 919-787-4740.

Film and Discussion on Ending Hunger

Fairmont United Methodist Church will be showing the film “A Place at the Table”, which addresses the issue of hunger at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 28th, at the church, 2501 Clark Avenue, Raleigh. Fairmont Gospel Revue will warm up the crowd beginning at 6:15 p.m. After the movie, there will be a panel discussion on hunger with panel discussion at the end of the film which will include Rev Steve Hickle, Faith Outreach Director for Stop Hunger Now, Steve Taylor Director for Outreach Ministry of the NC Conference of the UMC, Jaye White, Peace and Justice Coordinator for the NC Conference of The United Methodist Church, and Rev. Hugh Hollowell from Love Wins. Attendees are asked to bring a donation of canned foods and other nonperishable food items for the Women's Center of Wake County, Inc. A love offering to benefit the Women’s Center will also be collected.

Jennifer Goforth Gregory compiled the Faith in Focus feature for two and a half years. Carla Turchetti assumes duties for Faith in Focus effective immediately. Contact Carla with your events at least two weeks prior to the event date at cturchetti@nc.rr.com.

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