July 16, 2016 is the 2-month mark since Regional Coordinator for Western North Carolina became my full time position with the NCCC’s Partners in Health and Wholeness Initiative. This is significant for me because in these two months the exciting ministries of so many congregations in Western North Carolina have entered my world. One of those is The Restoration House, a ministry of Bryson City UMC. Earlier in July, the Rev. Wayne Dickert of Bryson City UMC and Nantahala River of Life invited me to see the vision taking shape at The Restoration House in Swain County on the property of Bryson City UMC.
Of course, you could say I only saw a house in the middle of a remodeling project—pieces of wood not assembled, walls not completed, an empty space where a porch should be, and the outlines of a labyrinth/meditation/prayer/community garden. I did see those things, but I also saw more. The Restoration House shows a new way of thinking about community, a different perspective on what it means to see untapped resources as a treasure, and, maybe more importantly, what it means for faithful communities to be places of healing and hope when their own resources are seen through a different lens. In communicating their vision of The Restoration House, the participants in this project give voice to what they hope to see, “What began as a liability for a small church in Bryson City has turned into a place of hope for residents in Swain County North Carolina.”
The Restoration House will serve as a comprehensive clearing house of information for the various resources available in Swain County. In addition, it will be the physical location for services of healing that are being developed through partnerships with other nonprofit organizations that offer medical, counseling financial training, and mediation in our area. There will also be a prayer room located in the middle of the house reminding all that prayer is the center of all restorative services. Behind the Restoration House will be a labyrinth with walls of vegetable gardens providing even more ways to heal body and spirit through prayer and food.
Partners in Health and Wholeness affirms and supports this work that values life and offers hope to the least of these. We see and support faithful congregations that are making connections between faith and health in the context of their own communities. Your congregation may not have an unused house, but your congregation has resources and a faith that can inspire in practical and tangible ways. I look forward to highlighting the work happening across Western North Carolina in the coming months. For those congregations that may be wondering what they can do in their communities, let’s work together to build healthier communities.