DurhamCares speaks to the community

Valerie Helbert, Reynolds Chapman and Keith Daniel make their presentations at Saturday’s breakfast. (Staff photo by Taquaisha Patrick)


Your pastor may have a secret! If he or she seems extra enlightened, it may just be that they have been attending meetings held by DurhamCares.

DurhamCares is a non-profit organization that facilitates spaces where the leaders of churches can come together to listen to each other. Their mission is to foster collaboration, develop leaders and educate the people of Durham how to care for their neighbors in holistic ways.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, the group met at ReCity for their Christian Community Development Breakfast Series. Executive Directo Reynolds Chapman organizes this part of the series every two months. This month, Chapman focused on a concept called the Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope.

This pilgrimage, with a partnership with the Duke Center for Reconciliation took this opportunity to show Durham church leaders the history of Durham’s strengths and challenges.

“One of the things we emphasize is listening to the community,” said Chapman. DurhamCares provides educational tools such as workshops and training to help church leaders make improvements in the community.

Rev. Dr. Keith Daniel, the Board Chair of DurhamCares said that everyone should “wake up with an anticipation for adventure, and possibility and promise.” He expressed his experience of this as “going to Disneyworld.”

Daniel talked about his first time hearing about the pilgrimage of Malcolm X’s trip to Mecca. “The Hajj Pilgrimage, in the Islamic tradition is a journey to the holy city.” He reminded listeners that it’s only mandatory for people who can physically and financially afford the trip but notes that it turned Malcolm X’s world “inside out.”

Valerie Helbert, of the Duke Center for Reconciliation, discussed her role which is to “invite people to the conversation and provide spaces to have those conversation that they have with local, national and international partners.”

“Pilgrimage invites us into a stance of being a discipline that is considering how our everyday life can be shaped by this journey together with God and to live in the light of the Kingdom of God,” said Helbert

She shared an African proverb with the attendees, “If you want to walk fast, you walk alone and if you want to go far, you walk together.” She feels that people who want to do transformation pilgrimage should do it communally.

There were newcomers and people who have done the pilgrimage before that showed up. It was diverse in cultures and it showed that DurhamCares is for the development of the community.

Alexandra Harper, of Artist in Christian Testimony International has been to several DurhamCares events and participated in the Durham pilgrimage.

“DurhamCares is growing, as far as its network,” said Harper. Through her involvement in arts, she hopes to see more intentional engagement with the churches.

Tolu Adewale, a newcomer has heard of this series before, didn’t know much about it before Saturday’s breakfast. He learned that it was about more than just touring sights of historical places, but rather “connecting with people through the sites that they visit and learning about the people who are deeply connected to those sites.”

When Aileen Womark-Montes heard about the pilgrimage of pain and hope, she thought “that’s my story and I’d loved to share it with people who are believers.” She did her first pilgrimage in July and came away inspired.

“There’s a God story, there’s a Durham story and there’s my story and the beautiful deep connections which means if I open my mind and my heart up, God will have another purpose for me,” she said.

Womark-Montes was born in Long Island, New York to parents who were Jewish Holocaust survivors. She became Christian in 1991 while living in Israel and left to figure out her place in the world. Womark-Montes says “Jesus chose her” and that she was nervous.

Her parents disowned her when she converted from Judaism to Christianity and she credits the Interfaith Council of Chapel Hill that helped her grow and strive.

She says her journey with Jesus has been beautiful, but she is bothered by the hypocrisy of people who drop off food but don’t invite people to eat together, which she has seen at many churches.

The organizers were excited to see many people and the breakfast. Helbert, Chapman and Daniel will be doing a similar workshop at the Christian Community Development Association Annual Meeting in Detroit in October Helbert hopes that people take a “sense of invitation to connect more deeply in Durham and with their own story of Durham.”



DurhamCares Homepage: http://www.durhamcares.org/



– Patrick_DurhamReseatting.jpg : Residents of Durham sit and talk at the Christian Community Development Breakfast. (Staff photo by Taquaisha Patrick)

– Patrick_PeopleConnecting.jpg : A lot of people showed up to come learn about DurhamCares and Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope. (Staff photo by Taquaisha Patrick)

– Patrick_ValerieHReynoldsCKeithD.jpg :  Valerie Helbert, Reynolds Chapman and Keith Daniel make their presentations at Saturday’s breakfast. (Staff photo by Taquaisha Patrick)

– Patrick_AileenWomark-Montes.jpg : Aileen Womark-Montes speaking about her experience converting to Christianity and following Jesus. (Staff photo by Taquaisha Patrick)

Patrick_ToluAdewale.jpg : Tolu Adewale, a first time participant in the pilgrimage. (Staff photo by Taquaisha Patrick)