Many know about the work Sustainable Alamance does connecting people to employment. It was, after all, the issue that launched the organization. The “Restoring Community” piece is less well known, but vitally important.
If you try to put the work of Sustainable Alamance in as few words as possible, these would be the words.
We know that jobs don’t “fix” people…this takes what we call a head and heart change.
We also know that when we place someone in meaningful work, knowing that the only place they have to live is in the same broken and hurting neighborhoods that gave birth to them, that person remains in a high-risk situation… risk of failure and relapse. This is why Sustainable Alamance is focused not only on restoring lives, but restoring community as well—we believe you cannot truly do the former without also doing the latter.
What does this have to do with you…the reader? Let me share a story rooted in history, but very relevant to the present.
Part I: Around the first of the year, I received a call from the pastor of the Latino church that shares space with us at Beverly Hills Church (our headquarters). There was someone outside their home (the original Beverly Hills parsonage) shouting obscenities. I headed down to see what was going on. My first thought was that the gentleman was intoxicated, and my experience told me that the Burlington Police probably knew him. I called the police and asked them to meet me there.
It turned out that the police did know the man, a known alcoholic but with no previous tendencies for violent behavior. He just happened to be a little farther away from his usual neighborhood. After meeting up with the Pastor, and the police, we decided to let him sleep it off nearby, because the only other alternative was jail.
Part II: About 1950, a local Burlington businessman donated the land for Beverly Hills Church. In fact, the building that hosted the first church gatherings is still on the property. It was his desire that the newly developed neighborhood, Beverly Hills, needed a church as a centerpiece for the community.
Why the history lesson? What is the intersection of these events?
What struck me is the idea that in the 1950’s, a local Burlington businessman would have never thought that one day, homeless man with an addiction alcohol would be shouting obscenities at a Peruvian pastor and family living in the parsonage built on the church grounds. But I believe God knew it.
Perhaps Beverly Hills Church was founded not only for the times that are in the history books, but precisely for the times we are experiencing today….. for the present day and time.
As part of the “Restoring Community” vision of Sustainable Alamance, Beverly Hills Church can become a community-centered beacon of hope for this historic neighborhood. Jesus tells us that “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
This building, these grounds, this very location can be used for teaching, training, loving, caring and helping to teach and learn the art of “neighboring”. If you are so inclined, come join us every week for worship on Sundays at 11am, and get to know Beverly Hills, not only as the community was and is, but what it can be.
Come help us restore a historic church, on historic property. Come be part of a listening community, a community that believes in the gifts and assets already in the neighborhood, with the ability to solve problems and give thanks to God and to neighbors working together, so that no life should be at risk.
Sustainable Alamance… Restoring Lives, Restoring Community