Our first meeting was on Memorial Day weekend in May of 2021. Rev. Melissa Florer-Bixler, pastor of Raleigh Mennonite Church brought us together at QC Family Tree for a time of worship, discussion, and a meal. Folks came with a variety of interests and curiosities: peace church, radical justice, activism, healing from evangelicalism, shared leadership, and creativity. Since then, folks have engaged in and taken leadership roles in a variety of ways such as: educational trainings, cohorts, participation in community engagement events, stewardship team, website building, writing published reflections, taking pictures, inviting friends, purchasing supplies, setting up and cleaning up, making meals, preparing and facilitating worship elements, and volunteering with the garden and food pantry.
In our forming stage, we have made efforts to sustain the soul through practices of prayer, praise, and play. We have engaged in liturgy writing, icon making, playing with pottery, and we have welcomed the gifts of artists and guest preachers. Worship has been crafted in a way that allows for each participant to offer their gifts and leadership. Through participation in mutual aid efforts, conferences, and studies, Beloved Community folks have participated in acts of nonviolent collective resistance of the external policies, norms, and systems that diminish the abundant life God intends for all of creation. Folks have been invited to initiate other projects and ideas with group members.
We have been a time of exploration, immersion, and relationship building. Our theme throughout Advent 2021 helped us to hear wisdom and guidance from the sacred places of land/cosmos, Grandmother Tree, Charlotte, and the neighborhood of Enderly Park. With this guidance and wisdom, we move toward a time of engagement, collective differentiation, and action.
In early 2022, Beloved Community Charlotte focused on community-building and care to share in joy and suffering, especially with the most marginalized, in order to strive for there being no lack within the community; and also identifying power assessment and political analysis of our collective work. We engaged in big conversations and decision making and came to collective agreement around our next most faithful steps as a community. These agreements include: a desire to become dually aligned with the Alliance of Baptists and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); moving to an indoor meeting space, committing to giving to BCC and creating a budget, creating a bank account and incorporation, and approving a tentative 6 month trial covenant with the hopes of confirming the covenant in January of 2023. We have confirmed our Alliance of Baptist Affiliation and have been in discussion since mid 2021 with the NC region and national New Church Ministries office of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
In Beloved Community Charlotte deepened their engagement and collective action. Directed by the insight and guidance of a neighborhood wisdom council, members of which are at risk of housing displacement, BCC folks were invited to participate in cultural organizing projects, anti-racism education, and mutual aid. Beloved Community Charlotte co-sponsored liturgical direct action and educational projects such as: Funeral for the Empire, a book discussion on An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, a Creation Care in Preaching and Worship Study Project, and Baby Dedication and Children’s Blessing on All Saints Day.
On January 2023, Beloved Community Charlotte collectively agreed upon our covenant. Charter Members include: Ria, Colby, Nora, and Zoe Martin; Laura, Paul, Emerson, Walter, and Ambrose Pearl; Shelly, Chris, and Charley Murphy; Christine and Tim Nicodemus, Ashley; Chase, and Eden Tibbs; Helms, Greg, John Tyson, and Zeb Jarrell