When Cam Echols thinks of her work as the executive director of the Refugee Empowerment Program (REP), she speaks of a calling that motivates her to open arms to strangers planting new roots in her Memphis neighborhood.Welcoming a stranger is a calling of faith, she says. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,” reads Hebrews 13:2. The people Cam serves may have entertained the angels, but a great many have also see
Their faces are honest and raw, at times looking withered and worn beneath the many lines of worry and sadness, but glints of hope sparkle in the corners of eyes that have witnessed the hardships of life on the streets. They are the Forgotten Faces of Memphis, captured through the lenses of Bill Piacesi’s cameras, and in their stark realism the truths of poverty are captured with an authenticity that calls to memory photos of the 1930s American heartland. Bill operates Focus
The collaborative spirit among partners at The Commons on Merton is a wonderful thing to be a part of, says Rev. Billy Vaughan, but what really excites him is when he sees that spirit spill out onto the streets connecting all sorts of people and families in the diverse neighborhood. “There’s a spiritual thing that takes place in the neighborhood because of what’s going on in the building,” Billy says. “You’d be amazed if you’re in the neighborhood for a few days, some of the
In Tennessee, more than 150,000 children are indirect victims of crimes committed by close family members. When a loved one goes to prison, they are virtually lost to their family, and the impact of that trauma is a very real burden upon communities. For more than 20 years, Families of Incarcerated Individuals (FII) has been helping families come to terms with the challenges they face when a loved one is sent to prison, either through direct support with health care or food a
Part way through an interview discussing his experience with urban renewal and community building, Christian Man, puts the journalist on hold. “I’ve just got to deliver these groceries,” he says, and in the muffled distance he can be heard discussing the upcoming harvest feast with a fellow named Walter, who must be part of the Green Leaf Learning Farm’s community garden project.
Walter is on the hook for some sweet-potato pie, it seems, and in both of their voices rings t
It’s completely reasonable to step back and view the Memphis neighborhood of Binghampton as a microcosm of the United States as a whole.It’s as diverse a community as you can find anywhere; a place where refugees from war-torn nations in Africa try to find footing in a new land of opportunity; a place where affluence and poverty cross paths on the street; a place where faith fuels hope, even in the midst of struggle. At the center of this cross-section of American society is
Three years ago the possibility of the church at the corner of McAdoo and Oxford in Memphis’s Binghampton neighborhood becoming a community hub seemed remote.
Like many of the city’s 2,000 houses of worship, Everett Memorial United Methodist Church no longer felt the graceful presence of a steady stream of parishioners. It needed serious maintenance and upkeep and there was no money in the offering plate — the congregation that passed it around had ceased to exist. Yet with
Starting today, stories exploring the gifts and possibilities of Memphis neighborhoods will be posted on this site three times a week.
Amy Moritz, director of the Center for Transforming Communities (CTC), says stories of transformation abound in our local neighborhoods. Working alongside church and community members in Memphis, Amy sees what happens when people shift their focus from deficits and problems to gifts and possibilities. It is those stories CTC will be sharing.
Transformation is a familiar subject for pastor Billy Vaughan when he considers the evolution of the Everett Memorial United Methodist Church in Memphis’s Binghampton neighborhood.
He’s been tied to the church and the area for at least 15 years and has seen what happens when organizations operate in but remain disconnected from their communities. He also knows the possibilities that arise when organizations extend open arms to their neighbors.
Like many churches, Everett
When all voices carry equal weight in the rebuilding of community, and everyone’s assets are valued, remarkable things can happen. For more than two years, a groundswell of community-building efforts has been building in the streets of South Memphis, led by a team of dedicated volunteers who choose to look at the abundant gifts on offer in the neighborhood beyond the many challenges there.
The team is driven by faith and the concept of Shalom, which says the path to well be