A church reborn

Six years after being given a dying church’s building, Shepherd’s House UMC, an African immigrant congregation in Durham, NC, is a beacon of renewal.

by Yonat Shimron

April 22, 2014

On a Thursday afternoon in a poor, run-down section of Durham, N.C., the parking lot outside Shepherd’s House United Methodist Church is full.

On the second and third floor of the neo-Gothic brick building, the floorboards creak as employees and volunteers at a series of nonprofit organizations move back and forth in rented offices working on projects to revitalize the neighborhood.

In the church basement, a nutritionist from the Durham County Department of Public Health is teaching half a dozen children to make a kale salad and a peach crisp.

After they finish preparing the food, the children scamper outdoors to the playground recently built in the church’s backyard.

By all accounts, Shepherd’s House UMC is a beacon of renewal. Six years after it took over the 1949 sanctuary and annex of Carr United Methodist Church, the congregation, started by immigrants from Zimbabwe, has made a marked difference in the surrounding east Durham neighborhood.

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