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Robeson County Church and Community Center

210 East 15th Street, • Lumberton, NC 28358 • United States • (910) 738-5204 fax: 738-5862/see/charmin/CM01529

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Mission Statement and Ministry

The Robeson County Church and Community Center is God's people at work together, reaching out in love to meet our "neighbor's" needs in the name of Christ. The Robeson County Church and Community Center seeks to involve people across cultural, racial, class and denominational barriers in partnership with each other to address social needs and to move in Christ's name toward solutions. We are a multi-faceted eumenical ministry, strongly supported by and through the United Methodist Church, reaching out to God's people in need. Offering Emergency Assistance, Literacy Training, Home Repair and New Construction, Clothing Ministry, Food Pantry, and Thrift Store. We welcome you to join in this ministry of spiritual growth and a meaningful faith sojourn as we strive, in the name of Christ, to share God's love and the world's resources with God's people in need. Mission Work Team opportunities for church groups, youth and adult, to enter into the ministry of home repair and sharing God's love through the witness of home repair and vacation bible school opportunities. Also, volunteer opportunities available in our clothing closet, food pantry, and thrift store. We always welcome donations of good, serviceable clothes, furniture, and household utensils and goods. We also welcome the gifts of your presence and service, and most of all -- your prayers. Though we, as an organization, are very clear about who we are, we do not seek to convert folks to our point of belief. In fact, our staff represents a VERY diverse group with faith perspectives ranging across a broad spectrum -- Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Holiness, and those who claim no denominational or religious affiliation but who live spiritual lives. We welcome all who come to this place, regardless of faith perspective. However, we do hope that each who comes here will discover truth in their lives, but know that such truth can never be held by one person, one group, or one understanding of faith. We are a mission that receives strong support at the national-level of the United Methodist Church with an Advance number of: 791742-0. We have a web page on the NC Conference Web Site: http://nccumc.org/robesoncounty

Notes From the Margins

She was such a small thing, a wee spit of a person who looked so much younger than her nine years. But her small size certainly did not seem to diminish her demeanor, for to share space with her was to be in the presence of sunshine. She didn't just enter a room, she splashed into it like the laughter of a gurgling brook or the exclamation of a breaking wave just after the first rays of dawn, a statement of delight and beauty and joy. Her smile was infectious and her glance would melt the heart of even the most ardent cynic. Who could not be affected by one who was so full of life? How could anyone be cynical around Cynthia? I met her as we prepared to go into the city. You see, she was part of this congregation where I had been asked to speak . Old Bridge United Methodist Church in Woodbridge, Virginia, a congregation who understood the call to reach beyond their walls, this peculiar group of church folks who understood that one could not claim life apart from those who struggled with the daily reality of death. So each and every month they would gather together, this eclectic community of disciples, male and female, black and white, some young and some not so young, and they would journey to that place where life was not so beautiful. They would pack vans full of food and clothing and they would travel to this urban landscape where success was measured in very small increments, measured by a hot meal on a cold morning, measured by just one day when one was not spit on, harassed, or cursed, measured by the piece of concrete one claimed for the night. While the adults rushed about, she stood quietly among them, a look of purpose surrounding her small features, like some mini-missionary. She did not seem to understand that most who were not part of this small strange community would consider her of little consequence. She did not seem to understand that in most circles she would have been viewed as a risk. Instead, she stood there with a look which seemed to say, "I was created for this reason," which, of course, she was. Her father, another saint really, introduced her to me. As she placed her small hand into mine, she leaned toward me, drew her lips close to my ear and whispered, "You know, I'll help show you what to do." Soon we had arrived at our destination, a dirty street corner not far from the world's most famous address, a street corner that was now home to a dozen or so beaten and damaged wanderers. Several of them ambled slowly over to the van and stood patiently at the open door, waiting for a scrap of clothing or a cup of hot, steaming coffee. They stood in silence, like some unseeing, upright corpses, responding only in monotones, hurt and lifeless until Cynthia moved into their midst. And suddenly, as if they had been resurrected, smiles appeared, smiles and laughter and conversation. She moved from person to person, offering a bit of food, and offering so much more -- a glimpse of joy in the realm of despair, a moment of happiness in the midst of sorrow. She offered the beauty of her spirit. She offered herself. She offered the Word, the Word who was in her flesh, the Word who is hope, the Word who is God. The Holy Spirit blew through this congregation of the forgotten, blew through and embraced them by the presence of this little one. Mere words could never caress as these small hands caressed. Mere words could never proclaim this most concrete sign of the grace of the Word. Cynthia, teaching with her touch, and touching with her love. And in that place of death, life prevailed. In a few hours, our food depleted, our emotions drained, we drove slowly back to suburbia, slowly back to the home of this rather peculiar community called church. In the silence of the journey, I found myself thinking of Cynthia, this young and beautiful child of God. Cynthia, this nine year old angel who understood how to love, the young and beautiful child of God who struggled each and everyday with the debilitating disease of Cystic Fibrosis, who always seemed to find a way to bring hope to the other. And the Master, the suffering servant, moved through the crowd touching those around him, giving them life and bringing them hope. He moved through the crowd in the person of a diminutive and miraculous nine year old girl - Cynthia, the Christ. A post-script: Cynthia died from complications brought on by her disease. She died in June on a warm day that looked so much like other June days. We who know her, we who experienced her beauty and her love, we now experience the deep mourning of the loss of her presence. Yet, through the sadness, through the pain, there rests the assurance of her life of love and the hope of God's promise. The church of which she was a member, came this summer and sojourned with us for awhile, here in this place. They came only weeks after her death. They came and worked on the home of an elderly woman whose house was slowly falling down around her. They came out of their mourning. They came through the sadness, through the pain, and with the assurance of her life of love and the hope of God's promise. Though Cynthia was not with them in body, she was present. Because she has dwelled with us for these nine years, our lives have shared in her beauty. Because she will continue to dwell with us through the incarnation and presence of Christ, through the incarnation and presence of our collective memory, and through the living out of her story, our lives will never be the same. Cynthia my friend, you will always be my hero. Shalom, Steve

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