New church starts in the ELCA are often referred to as “mission congregations.” These ministries are in the start-up phase of their development, leading up to their eventual organization as congregations of the North Carolina Synod of the ELCA. Several congregations have remained mission congregations as they serve and walk alongside unique populations such as with our native sister and brothers on the boundary in Cherokee.
South Durham Connections
Begun November 2018, South Durham Connections (SoDuCo) is a community committed to addressing all the ways that people are hungry: physically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and intellectually. This community’s signature ministry is the Parktown Food Hub (the Hub) and the Word & Sacrament community will be developed as the food ministry grows – The community is led by Pastor Sharon Schulze.
Community Christ’s Beloved Community began as a ministry of streets in 2015. The ministry has grown and now meets at a permanent home in South-Winston. Despite a building, the heart is still beating for those who experience systemic injustices, struggle with the realities of poverty, and live in a culture fear. CBC has the only bilingual food pantry in the city and provides distribution days three times a month. This community is fully bilingual – and bi-denomination both ELCA and Episcopal. The community meets for a community meal and worship each Sunday morning and has a Wednesday evening ministry called The Largest Table. This community is led by Pastor Chantal McKinney.
In May 2017, Emmaus began in West Charlotte led by Dr. Shanitria Cuthbertson. This ministry is a word & sacrament community deeply embedded in the West Charlotte community especially in the education system. This ministry is anchored in mentoring of African-American students, using arts for expression, and community cares events. Additionally, the community is engaging disciples in their faith through their Tuesday night bible study. They gather for worship each Sunday allowing gospel music, sacrament and powerful preaching to create space for the community to encounter the transformative love of Jesus Christ.
Living Waters Lutheran Mission
Begun in 1985, this community is on the Qualla Boundary and is an embodiment of the gospel with the people of the Eastern-band Cherokee tribe. The signature ministry of Living Waters is their food pantry and resource center. Serving nearly 40,000 individuals a year through its feeding ministries, it addresses the immediate need that all might be fed. Additionally, Living Waters serves as a place for job placement, education connection, seniors support and more. The community worships on Wednesdays and Sundays blending Cherokee culture including beginning each Sunday with a morning song to greet the day sung in Cherokee. This ministry is led by Pastor Jack Russell and Lisa Russell.
Arbol de Vida
Gathering in North Durham, this community is a Spanish-speaking gathering of believers anchored in Word & Sacrament. This community began in early 2017 and is made up of as many children as adults. The community is finding energy in their monthly women’s brunch and community cares events like backpack program. The community currently meets on Sundays inside the building of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Durham. The mission development is led by lay mission developer German Santana.
Begun in February 2020, this ministry will walk alongside person experiencing homelessness with two main foci: spiritual care and showers. This ministry will be anchored in City with Dwellings, a non-profit serving the community experiencing homeless, providing The Dwelling with office space, Sunday morning worship space, and mid-week chapel/prayer space. Additionally, together with the Moravian church, we will be purchasing a mobile shower unit (6 showers) that will serve this community. The unit double the public shower access in downtown Winston-Salem. The ministry is led by lay mission developer Emily Norris.