I moved to Charlotte with my family at the end of August 2017 from Underhill, Vermont. Since moving, I have regularly experienced something that others in Charlotte may find familiar. Not every day, but definitely every week, when I tell someone that I live in Charlotte the response I get is some form of, “Oooh, Charloooootte!” (as eyebrows raise). Why?
Well, to put it frankly, it happens because Charlotte has a reputation for being wealthy. That reputation is somewhat deserved, and the statistics I have seen report that the average household income in Charlotte is higher than most towns in Vermont. When I say that I live in Charlotte, the assumption is that I am wealthy, and that all of my neighbors are wealthy too. So, not every day, but definitely every week, I get raised eyebrows and an “Oooh, Charloooootte!”
Something else that I have experienced regularly, that others in Charlotte may find familiar, is that there is not only wealth here, but there is also hunger and poverty. My church, the Charlotte Congregational Church, is home to the Charlotte Food Shelf, which exposes me every few weeks to many individuals and families in our community who rely on this resource to put food on their tables. My colleague Rev. Susan Cooke Kittredge and I administer a “basic needs” fund that puts us in contact on a regular basis with many who need groceries, heat assistance, gas for their cars, etc.
These two examples reveal the fact that, even in Charlotte, many of our neighbors are struggling. Whether that is news to you, or not, I think it’s essential that we know, remember, and acknowledge it to one another from time to time. For, if we do not know, remember, and acknowledge it, how can we ever work together to ensure that all of us have enough?
As a way of knowing, remembering and acknowledging, on Sunday, May 27, at 10:00 a.m., the theme of Charlotte Congregational Church’s weekly worship service will be: “Light Shall Rise.” During our service we will: 1) hear from a representative of the Charlotte Food shelf, 2) hear from Claudia Marshall about a local initiative called “Garden to Give” that encourages people to plant rows in their gardens to benefit their local food shelves, 3) hear a message from me based on the book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 58 (“if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday”), 4) take a quick tour of the Charlotte Food Shelf, which is located in the basement of one of our church buildings, and 5) pray that together our “light shall rise” for the good of us all.
Whoever you are, wherever you come from, wherever you are on your spiritual journey, whoever you love, and wherever the food in your cupboard comes from, the Charlotte Congregational Church invites you to join us for a time of knowing, remembering and acknowledging hunger on May 27 at 10:00 a.m. Please contact me at (802) 425-3176 (x11) if you have any questions.