Read about important Crossroads Charlotte events, information and activities.
As a child, I was fortunate to have a wonderful pastor, B. Gene Williams, who entertained all of my questions about faith and religion as seriously as he would any other question from any other member of our church. Unfortunately, as pastors do, he eventually moved on to another congregation. No other pastor has, to this day, taken my sincere curiosity as seriously.
Until I was about 16, church was a huge part of my life. Though my parents never attended, my grandfather would drive half an hour – one way – to pick me up Sunday mornings and make sure I was in Sunday school, with a dollar for the offering. I eventually taught Sunday school, children's church and art class during vacation Bible school. The members of the youth group were like the brothers and sisters I didn't have.
However, as we studied the Bible, I couldn't help but wonder why certain people weren't welcome in my church. And, it wasn't my imagination. I clearly remember wondering why our entire congregation was Caucasian, why the Koreans who worshiped downstairs didn't join us, and I definitely remember asking the new pastor why our denomination thought homosexuality was a sin, smarting when he said, "Because it is."
That didn't make sense to me. I thought Jesus loved everyone equally and no matter what. It wasn't long after that I left that church, the one that once felt like home.
From there I went on a search. I read book after book on religions. I visited mosques, synagogues, temples, cathedrals and circles around campfires. While I found people were willing to discuss their faith one-on-one in a coffee shop, I often felt a chill in the sanctuary.
That is, until a couple weeks ago when I visited C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church as part of the Xchange Sermons for this blog.
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Local poet and playwright, Quentin Talley (a.k.a. Q), channeled Aretha Franklin's famous "R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (Find out what it means to me)" lyrics when he asked participants in a Jan. 23 workshop at the Mint Museum to write down what respect means to them. Called "Eye to Eye: Building Respect One Relationship at a Time," the workshop included poetry, art, storytelling and "talking stick" lessons.
However, contrary to Aretha's anthem, participants in the workshop, made possible by a Front Porch Grant, quickly found that respect is more about listening and paying attention to others than it is about explaining your own needs for R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
The day began with a guided tour through the Mint Museum's exhibit of Lois Mailou Jones' work. Q instructed everyone not to just stare, but to think about the lessons in respect Jones was conveying through her paintings of Haiti, North Carolina and Paris.
After lunch, Q asked the crowd to share the words of respect that came to their mind. Some of those words were acceptance, tolerance, listening, character, manners, understanding. No one mentioned teaching others to respect them, rather the focus was on offering respect to others.
On Jan. 21, a miserable rainy night, nearly two dozen people met at the library on West Boulevard to discuss their hopes for the center city. The meeting was one of two held that night to elicit community input for the Center City 2020 Vision Plan.
Charlotte Center City Partners sponsored the workshop as a follow-up to an October meeting that drew more than 300 people to the Charlotte Convention Center. The organization wants residents to help consultants draft the plan, which will be a guide for economic and cultural development for the next decade.
“The Center City and uptown belongs to everyone not just to the people who live and work and play uptown,” said Cheryl Myers, senior vice president of Planning and Development for CCCP.
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