Black History Comes to Life at St. Paul Remote Learning Center
By Camille Roddy
Community Outreach Coordinator
St. Paul United Methodist Church
MARCH 5, 2021 – In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”
In 2020, a huge burden for families during the pandemic was support with e-learning. St. Paul United Methodist Church responded to this need by opening a Remote Learning Center at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.
As Community Outreach Coordinator at St. Paul and Congregations 4 Children Chair for the WNCC (Western North Carolina Conference) discussions with local school officials centered on ways to best improve login rates for African American families living near the church.
The students attending the center include students at Sedge Garden, Brunson, Paisley, and Mineral Springs schools.
Operating a site has been a collaborative effort with St. Paul’s leadership guided by input from Connectional resources in both the North Carolina and Texas Methodist Conferences.
The biggest collaboration for St. Paul’s Remote Learning Center was through Church Council Chair Peggy Moore and Delta Fine Arts Center. Mrs. Moore, an avid quilter, also serves as the Center’s Program Director. The Arts Center, founded by former member Simona Allen, who grew up in St. Paul’s first location downtown as a child, is located next door to St. Paul.
For Black History Month, Delta Fine Arts Center installed an exhibit entitled “Raw Edges III: Textile Arts by Area African American Quilters.” Melanie Pilson, a St. Paul young adult serving as the Remote Learning Site Supervisor, inquired about taking the Remote Learning Center students to view the exhibition.
"Quilting is an important part of African-American culture, and the Arts Center is such a great asset in the neighborhood" Pilson said. "Having this resource within walking distance of the church and being able to use it safely was a wonderful hands-on learning opportunity and the kids loved it.”
“Under Camille’s leadership, the Quilters Guild at Delta Arts Center provided masks to those distributing and receiving food at our pantry and at a nearby recreation center when the pandemic initially hit and masks were not widely available”, said Moore. “The Center was delighted to work with her and the Remote Learning Center staff to safely allow the students to be on site for the exhibition.” Moore read “Under the Quilt of the Night” by Deborah Hopkinson and told the story of the Underground Railroad through a quilt display.
The kids made their own quilt square using a “flying geese” quilt pattern to take home and learned about the importance of quilting in the African American community, with one student proclaiming, “Wow, now this was cooler than I thought.”
In adhering to Cabinet guidelines as well as those set by the local school system, the Center staff daily navigates the wellbeing of everyone involved. In responding to knock on our church door for hospitality by former school Superintendent Dr. Angela Hairston, St. Paul recalled its first outreach when the church was founded in 1871-education.
By trusting God and doing good (Psalm 37:3), we celebrate God’s grace as the gifts and talents of St. Paul and our neighbors have come together to show God’s love in giving ease and rest to the burden of those families at our Center.
Our greatest joy however is the light in the eyes of kids upon their arrival. By pouring the love of God, through the gifts of the Church with the grace of the Holy Spirit, with this outreach into a new generation, we not only are living into our church heritage as we approach our 150th anniversary in May of 2021, but our calling to serve and make disciples and transform the world.