Mission: to Amplify Compassion by amplifying marginalized voices in our community, including those marginalized by their race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, or any others searching for equity. We will help challenge our congregation to amplify justice, mercy, and humility to create a more compassionate church.

Reflection – by Emily Tolsma:   For Love of God and Mountains

I grew up spending a couple of weeks each summer in Banner Elk with my mom’s best friend’s family. Their extended family had lived in Banner Elk forever and the whole family lived on the same road in the middle of such a beautiful place, which included an old “lodge” that we stayed in. This family had two daughters, perfectly timed in ages with my sister and me.  Before we turned nine the daughter closest in age to me, Sarah, died of a brain tumor. As little girls, we sent letters to each other throughout the year, sometimes in gibber gabber just to make each other laugh, and cherished our time running around her family’s land and going fishing in the little pond that they had.  Her death was my first real experience with death. I could not handle going to the funeral, but Duke Ison, the Associate Minister at Dilworth at the time, held a private service for me to grieve in the Jones Chapel.  The trauma of my best friend’s death could have kept me away, but instead, it draws me back, to visit her grave and leave her wildflowers. 

I also grew up at Dilworth church. When I moved back to Charlotte as a young adult, I struggled to come back to “my parents’ church” or try to find my own church family. I think Duke Ison came back to Dilworth as our Senior Minister about a month after I moved back to Charlotte, which made the decision so much harder. I loved Duke, I loved my family, I loved seeing the people who had been so foundational in my rearing. I also felt like they looked at me like I was still a 17-year-old high schooler. Through the new friends I made, and the old friendships revived, I quickly realized that Dilworth is my church family and didn’t need to look any further. 
Fast forward to the summer of 2018, we were fortunate enough to fulfill a years’ long dream of buying a little piece of Avery County. We bought a little cabin and I again fell in love with Avery county.  This time, though, I saw the poverty and unemployment that also lives in this beloved space. I saw the Confederate flags that I have to pass on the way to get up to my neighborhood and they made me cringe.  This past summer, the wretched summer of 2020, my family and I hunkered down in our cabin for weeks at a time, spending more time there than in Charlotte. I saw all of the political signs and banners and flags every time I drove out of my neighborhood, and it made me uneasy. There were times when I was the only person at the produce stand or Ingles wearing a mask, this was a political statement in this area of NC. This is not the way I saw Avery county as a child. It was a place that loved nature, art, wildlife, and living without a city's constraints. It is a place where we all come together for the love of the Mountain. 

Dilworth is a place where we all come together for the love of God, and for the love of each other and the community we’ve built together. I can’t give up on the Mountain because of the pieces of it that challenge me, it is the beauty of God’s creation that keeps drawing me back, as it is the love I feel from the congregation at Dilworth that keeps drawing me back. 

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Join A Tu Lado - a ministry opportunity through the Migrant Assistance Project in which houses of faith partner with an immigrant family and walk with them on their journey through the immigration process in the U.S. If you are interested in joining an A Tu Lado team at Dilworth UMC please reach out to Pastor Cade for more information.

Suggested Resources
Watch: Racial Stereotyping: What Would You Do?
Read: Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person by Gina Crosley-Corcoran
Listen: Code Switch: When Civility is Used as a Cudgel Against People of Color
Check Out: Project Implicit

Join the Amplify Book Club as we read and discuss "Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents" by Isabel Wilkerson. If you are interested in participating in this opportunity, click here to purchase a copy of the book, and please reach out to Pastor Cade to express interest.

Are you interested in sharing a reflection in the Amplify newsletter? If you feel called to share a story, testimony, or devotion related to diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation, please reach out to Pastor Cade. The Amplify Team is open to all members who feel passionate about shaping our conversation and working for justice in and through Dilworth UMC. Please contact Pastor Cade to become a part of this important ministry.
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