Summertime. It’s that magical time of year when the pressure is off, and a kid can be a kid.

It’s a chance to relax, explore, learn – and create happy memories that last.

But what if your summer is a stretch of empty days, confined indoors?

Children come to us having never experienced the joy of a summer adventure. They’ve never been on a trip. They’re never been to camp. They have not seen the ocean, much less learned to sail. They’re never ridden a horse or learned to fish.

Together, we can give these children a summer to remember. How would you like to help?

SUMMER COOL-OFF ice cream party or boat ride at the lake $50
SUMMER STAPLES swim lessons, art lessons, or day camp $100
SUMMER DASH church camp, sports camp, or DC day trip $250
SUMMER GETAWAY baseball game & pizza night for a group home $500
SUMMER TRADITION one week at sleep-away camp $1,000

First Chance Auction

Get your friends together for a bidding strategy on these live auction items. They’ll go quickly May 31 at First Chance for White Pants!

Bob Garner Cooks for You

Author, TV personality, and pit-master Bob Garner donates his acclaimed cooking and storytelling skills. Bob will prepare and deliver a traditional barbecue meal for 30, and he’ll serve it with a side of stories from his culinary adventures around the state.

Donated by Bob Garner


Emerald Isle Beach Week

Choose your week (Oct. 6, 2019 – March 29, 2020) and your getaway:

  • Oceanfront Breezy, with 5 bedrooms and 5 1/2 baths – see details
  • Soundside Batten the Breeze, with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths – see details
Donated by Emerald Isle Realty


John Hardy Classic

Beautiful sterling silver dot-drop earrings, 1” drop, ½ width. Textured with gleaming drops, they finish your look with sculptural whimsy

Donated by Bailey’s Fine Jewelry


Harkers Island Bungalow

Spend a week at North Carolina’s Crystal Coast in this two-bedroom bungalow with water view (valid after Labor Day and before Memorial Day)

There’s lots to do: catch the ferry to Cape Lookout or Shackelford Banks, see the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum, visit the Cape Lookout National Seashore, make a short trip to Beaufort and Morehead City, take a day trip on the ferry to Ocracoke Island

 Donated by Brad and Suzanne Williams

Lent – Week 3

Bruce Stanley, president / CEO – When Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, we set aside the traditional liturgical colors of white, purple, green, red, and Marian blue for the somber black of ashes. The journey through Lent is not over until the darkness of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The bright light of dawn on Easter seems far away.

To non-believers this living with darkness can seem unnecessarily painful, even morbid. We believe, however, that it is out of darkness that God’s promises are realized.

When creation occurs in Genesis, chapter 1, we read, “Darkness was over the face of the earth.” A little later, darkness appears again in Genesis 15:12,  “As the sun was setting Abram fell into a deep sleep and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.” The Rev. Liz Roberts notes that it is during this darkness that God’s covenant promise comes to Abram. “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18). Even in the middle of darkness, the creative capacity of God manifests itself.

All of us have the experience of darkness. We know mental and physical illness, grief and loss, unemployment, job loss, divorce, discrimination, and more.

But we who are Lenten people have hope.

We are not shy in naming darkness and places where shadows fall. But our God is light, beauty, peace, and grace. Just as Abram was on a journey, so, too are we. We are traveling to our promised land of the Kingdom of God. It has been granted to us just as Canaan was granted to Abram. To get to the place we must go through dark places, but we go with the certitude that the living Lord can penetrate even the darkest places within and around us.

When life is at its worst is often when God is at God’s best. We do not ever lose hope because God’s will cannot be prevented and we will be brought into God’s preferred future for all of us. We name the darkness we know in Lent not because we are resigned to despair but because we are full of hope and confidence that it shall be vanquished by the radiant beams of Jesus love.

Read Lent Week 1
Read Lent Week 2
Read Lent Week 4

Foster Parenting

Some foster parents want to adopt; others just want to help children transition into permanent homes with birth family or adoptive parents. Either way, you don’t have to be wealthy or married to be a foster parent. You don’t have to own your home.

What it takes

Our most successful parents have experience with children and a heart for helping people with mental health issues. Since foster children have been removed from their parents or primary caretakers, they often have special needs. Most are age 5 or older and arrive with emotional and behavioral challenges because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

We need foster parents who are willing to learn about grief and loss, show compassion, introduce structure, and support the child as part of a team, which may include doctors, therapists, schools, family members, social services, and mental health agencies.

Our foster parents get 60 hours of training as they prepare to become licensed and 10 hours annually on topics such as behavior management and trauma.

Independent Services

Even if you plan to foster or adopt through another agency or social services, our staff can help you through the process with MAPP training or home studies. Contact us at

Want to know more?

We offer foster parents 24 / 7 support and competitive compensation. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, race, gender, marital status, or employment status.

Talk to us:

Lent – Week 1

Bruce Stanley, president / CEO – One Sunday morning when I was on the road preaching, my wife Melissa was attending a church service here in Raleigh by herself. She was heading back for home, traveling down a dip in the road near downtown, when BAM – a car ran a light and slammed into her passenger front fender. The driver who T-boned her got out and immediately apologized, saying, “It was my fault. I wasn’t paying attention and I went through the red light.”

An officer arrived and interviewed a few bystanders – one of whom claimed she’d seen the accident and it was Melissa’s fault. The officer shared her statement with both drivers, and the man who’d hit Melissa changed his tune. He told the officer she was at fault. The incident is placed into the hands of insurance companies. Both drivers exchanged information. While grateful to be unhurt, Melissa was shaken literally and figuratively by the accident.

A couple of weeks later, she was out in the yard on Saturday afternoon working in the flowerbed when the man who’d hit her pulled up in the driveway and hopped out. He called to her and asked, “Do you remember me?” Apparently he’d been doing research online because he said to her, “I had no idea you were a pastor’s wife. I know I’ve done wrong, and I need you to forgive me.” He apologized with an “I am so sorry,” hopped back into his car, and off he went.

Did Melissa forgive him? Of course she did. She is Melissa, kind of heart and gentle of spirit. Even without an authentic indication of contrition beyond an awkwardly offered apology, she would have forgiven him. But if you were really sorry, how about a phone call to your insurance company? How about a check in the mail?

Isaiah 58 reminds me of this driveway encounter, which I glimpsed briefly through the den window, and it cautions me that I too have been and sometimes am still that guy. I come rolling up to the house of God, and announce myself: “Here I am! Remember me?” and then I begin the “Blah buh Blah buh Blah. I am sorry, forgive me.” And off I go. And surely God must be thinking, “Not only do I hear you, but I also see you. Your talk and your walk are not exactly the same.”

Isaiah proclaims that God doesn’t want this kind of show time from us. As if – we say this is the fast we have chosen.

Is it only a day we have chosen to humble ourselves? Is it only today that we bow our heads like a reed, and lying about in sackcloth and ashes? No. The fast I have chosen is this: Loosen the chains of injustice, untie the cords of the yoke, set the oppressed free, and untie every yoke. Share your food with the hungry and provide refugees with shelter. When you see the naked clothe them. God is not interested in our self-serving proclamations of piety or our outward displays of holiness. God is interested in actions. If we are truly sorry, truly repentant, there will be visible fruit of that faith. Isaiah says only when we commit to providing for the poor and the hungry, commit to freeing persons who are oppressed and discriminated against, only when we commit to the sojourner and refugee in our midst will God hear our cry. When our walk matches our talk, then God says will our glory shine out.

Read Lent Week 2
Read Lent Week 3
Read Lent Week 4

Lent – Week 2

Bruce Stanley, president / CEO – The Bible contains poetry, genealogy, history, prose, hymns, liturgy, fable, and science. It is, however, not a book of’ any of these categories, certainly not science.

For example, in Bible stories that talk about seeds, there are things that are simply not correct according to botanical science. In John 12 it says that a grain of wheat goes into the ground and “dies” so that it may sprout and bring forth grain. We know, of course, that the seed does not die but rather germinates and is transformed by growth.

Now look at Matthew 13. Here Jesus says that mustard is the smallest of seeds. As he continues, he talks about the mustard tree and the birds that nest in its branches. But mustard, as we know, is a ground plant. And if you research how mustard grows you learn that it spreads – so much so that it is sometimes labeled “invasive.”  (In many northern climates it grows as fast as kudzu does here, spreading aggressively and taking over not just yards but entire fields.)

Regardless of whether mustard grows up or grows out, what a wonderful object lesson this is. During this Lenten season as we seek to examine ourselves deeply, it is possible for us to conclude that we don’t have much or any faith. Deep inner work can result in us concluding that we are not growing into the likeness of God and we may even feel as if we are shrinking or withering in our faith.

The good news in this teaching from Jesus is the promise that it only takes a tiny seed. God has already gifted you with enough – patience, kindness, charity, love, joy – for the good and God within you to grow. Christ’s presence in you is something God wants to magnify. He wants his love and compassion to become like mustard, wild and unchecked. He wants his love to be present in every thought and every act, every minute.

We don’t have to go “get” stronger faith. We simply need to look inward. God has already planted and begun great work within us. Let us use this season to let that small seed grow.

Read Lent Week 1
Read Lent Week 3
Read Lent Week 4

We are grateful to these supporters – A Winter’s Tale auction donors:

7 Stages Theatre, Atlanta
Alpine Ski Center
American Museum of Natural History, New York City
American Symphony Orchestra, New York City
The Angus Barn
The Antigua Group, Inc.
Apex Outfitters
Appalachian State University, An Appalachian Summer Festival
AR Workshop
Arena Stage, Washington DC
Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas
Banner Elk Winery & Villa
C.E. Barnes Store
Benbow Historic Inn, Garberville, CA
Boxing Cat Entertainment, North Hollywood CA
Brown’s Clock Shop
Burning Coal Theatre Company
US Sen. Richard Burr
Capel Rugs
Capitol Broadcasting Company
Carolina Mudcats
Carolina Panthers
Dwayne Carson
Centenary UMW, Smithfield
Charlotte’s Cleaning Service
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Chrisco’s Pottery
Jerod and Marnie Cohen
John Cooper
NC Rep. Kevin Corbin and Beth Corbin
CycleBar North Hills
Dad’s Garage Theatre Company, Atlanta GA
The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg FL
Gretchen and Dan Deaton
DECO Raleigh
Diamonds Direct
NC Rep. Josh Dobson
Douglas Carroll Salon & Spa
Dunes West Golf Club, Mt. Pleasant SC
The Durham Hotel
Edible Arrangements
Elite Island Resorts Caribbean
Elizabeth & Nicole Boutique
Elizabeth UMW, Smithfield
Erwin UMW
Eschelon Experiences
First UMC – Cary UMW
First UMC, Wilson
   Joyful Hands Circle
   Laura Davenport Circle
   Hope UMW Circle
Flour Power Kids Cooking Studios, Cary
The Flourish Market
For Your Convenience
Four Seasons Hotel, Atlanta
The Fresh Market
Fringe Salon
Full Circle Environmental LLC
Glass America
Grand Lux Café
Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa, Lexington KY
Gymcarolina Gymnastics
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort
Hayes Barton UMC – Circle 1
Hickory Hill Pottery
Highland UMC – Circle 8
Hillsborough UMC – UMW
Hilton North Raleigh / Midtown
Hollands UMC
   First Journey UMW
   New Horizons UMW
Hotel VIA, San Francisco CA
Hunt & Gather Seaboard Station
NC Rep. Pat Hurley
Hyatt House Raleigh North Hills
Inspirations Home Décor and More
IP Casino Resort Spa
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards & The Olive Press, Sonoma CA
Jennifer Daube Realty
Johnson’s Jewelers of Cary
Judd’s Hill Winery, Napa CA
Jugtown Pottery
Keith Martindale Pottery
Kelly’s North Carolina Hot Pressure Washing

Laird Family Estate, Napa CA
Claire Latham
Lauralee Gifts
NC Rep. David Lewis
Lily Rain North Hills
Linda Craft & Team Realtors
LuLaRoe Margo Brush
MAC Cosmetics
MADabolic Raleigh
Market Imports
Maui Jim Sunglasses
Nicole McCleskey
Assad Meymandi
Miracle Springs Resort & Spa, Desert Hot Springs CA
Susan Mitchell
Mount Carmel UMW, Pikeville
Nelle Moseley
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP
Wendell and Linda Murphy
Museum of Life & Science
New York Philharmonic, New York City
North Carolina Museum of Art
North Raleigh UMW
Agape Circle
   Circle of Joy
   Foot Prints Circle
   New Beginnings Circle
O’Quinn Pottery
Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate, Huntington NY
Old Edwards Inn, Highlands
Once in a Blue Moon Bakery & Café
The Orchestra Now, New York City
The Orleans Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas NV
Owens Pottery
Page 158 Books
Paintbase, Raleigh
The Peddler Steakhouse
Pei Wei Asian Diner
Percy Gray
Petty Family Foundation
Photography by Laura
Pinafore Boutique
Greg and Gena Poulos
Punch Productions, Inc.
Quintessentials North Hills
The Raleigh Wine Shop
Renaissance Dental Center
Dodie Renfer
Jean Rentz
Residence Inn Marriott Long Beach Downtown, CA
Response Team 1 CRC
Reynolds Family
Carmen Ritz, State Farm
Rodan + Fields
Mary Rudkin
Saddlebrook Resort, Tampa FL
St. Mark’s UMW, Raleigh
Salon Blu
Linda Sellers
Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield Hotel
The Siena Hotel, Chapel Hill
St. Marks UMW, Raleigh
Stella & Dot
Stellar Sitters
Summit Hospitality Group, LTD
Synergy Face & Body
TasteBuds Personal Chef Services
Thomas Pottery
Total Wine & More
Town and Country, San Diego CA
Trolley Pub Raleigh
Twinkle Star Monograms
Urban Decay Cosmetics
Vann Fine Art Portraits
Vita Vite
Vitamin Sea
VJB Cellars, Kenwood CA
Washington Nationals
Wellington Cellars, Glen Ellen CA
WendyFay’s Canvas
Wetzel’s Pretzels
Wheel of Fortune
Dennis Wicker
Wild Birds Unlimited, Cary
Windborne UMW
Wines for Humanity
Bob Wright
Marlena and Jimmy Yates

Travel Raffle

An Experience to Remember
A $100 ticket buys your chance to win one of five incredible experiences – hotel accommodations included.

Elton John Farewell Tour, Sept. 10 or 11
Does not include airfare to Anaheim, CA | Don’t miss Elton John’s last-ever tour, the end of a half-century on the road for one of pop culture’s most enduring performers. The new stage production will take you on a musical and highly visual journey spanning a 50-year career of hits like no one has seen before. Get the details: Elton John Farewell

Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Does not include airfare | Welcome to the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail! Here’s your passport to the world’s greatest Bourbon – legendary distilleries just waiting to share their historic craft, timeless secrets and proud traditions of Kentucky’s signature spirit. Get the details: Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Kennedy Space Astronaut Adventure
Includes roundtrip airfare for 2 to Orlando, Fla. | Enjoy a unique experience for two at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, 45 minutes east of Orlando. More interactive than a museum, more inspirational than a science center, and more authentic and educational than a theme park, the Kennedy Space Center offers a mix of thrilling simulators, breathtaking attractions, behind-the-scenes tours, and more. Get the details: Kennedy Space Center

Exotic Supercar Driving Experience
Includes roundtrip airfare for 2 to Las Vegas, NV | Slip behind the wheel of the car of your dreams and experience the thrill of driving on a real racetrack. Ferrari 458 Italia. Lamborghini Huracan. Porsche 911 GT3. The choice is yours. Get the details: Exotic Supercar Driving Experience

Ultimate Pro Sports Fan Getaway
Includes roundtrip airfare for 2 | Enjoy a trip for two to your choice of an exciting Friday, Saturday, or Sunday MLB, NBA, NFL, or NHL regular season game, non-major PGA golf tournament* – that’s up to 5,000 games a year to choose from among 50 markets nationwide. Take a trip to see your home team play on the road or just get away for a fan-tastic sports adventure! Get the details: Ultimate Pro Sports Fan Getaway

Advent Week 4

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’ ” Luke 1:41-42

I have long thought that our habit of calling the gestation period “expecting” is defiantly inaccurate. If we were accurate, we would call it “no real idea what to expect.” While we hope and pray for a child who is healthy and whole, the full truth is that every pregnancy is fraught with danger and the lives of every birth mother and every child in utero are at risk every time.

Our defiant inaccuracy causes us to romanticize the beauty of the pregnant mother and ignore the nausea and vomiting, the varicose veins, the oft attendant anemia or gestational diabetes. Our defiant dreams race forward to what the child growing within may be. We defiantly limit the moments of clarity and candor acknowledging that birth defects are real and that all children are not born academically, athletically, or artistically gifted.

We celebrate the meeting of older cousin Elizabeth and younger cousin Mary, both most unexpectedly pregnant. When reading that the child who was to become John the Baptist leaped, my heart leaps also. As Elizabeth pronounces benediction upon Mary and the fruit of her womb, Jesus, I give joyous thanks.

The paradox of this season of Advent, our time of expectancy, is that we already know the end of their individual stories. We live with stubborn defiance that in the middle of our chaotic, broken, and – as John and Jesus will sadly soon see – brutal world, hope is not defeated. Even in the midst of pain we defiantly celebrate pregnancy. Our hopes and dreams are not restrained or contained by reason or logic. The Lord of Love is about to come into our midst and come with forgiveness, fullness, and the gift of life eternal. The facts of life yield to faith in Christ.

Let us pray, with defiant inaccuracy, “Lord, come. Be born to us.”

Read Advent Week 1
Read Advent Week 2
Read Advent Week 3
Advent Week 4

Advent Week 3

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion in Jesus Christ.
Phillippians 1:6

Advent is the season of expectant waiting. As I have moved through ordained ministry in a variety of settings I am convinced that few things are more challenging for the modern believer than having patience and being willing to wait on God.

Grace UMC was the first congregation I served after ordination. It is a very traditional church in downtown Wilmington. During one Sunday service, a man – who clearly was hard living – came in and walked straight up the long center aisle to the altar rail. The ushers, taken by surprise, followed quickly behind and awkwardly stood around him. The pastor left the pulpit and approached the visitor. In whispered voice the visitor asked, “Can I have baptism?” The pastor directed me to continue worship while he went into the transept to hear the man’s story.

Tom had been homeless and was currently residing a few blocks away at the Cape Fear Gospel Rescue Mission. A few minutes earlier during the mission’s laity-lead worship, God spoke to Tom who immediately asked for holy baptism. The lay leader acknowledged the limits of his authority and told him, “I can preach and teach but I am not ordained. You need to go to a church.” So immediate was Tom’s desire for baptism that he walked out of the mission, down the block, and into the first church he found: Grace UMC.

I don’t know if there had ever been an unplanned baptism at Grace. The tradition was to schedule baptisms, weeks in advance. So unprepared were we for this event that the baptistry was dry. You don’t need much water for a Methodist baptism, but you do need some. After water was obtained, the pastor interrupted the service and another child of God was welcomed into the church.

If we had what Paul encourages us to have, “confidence that God was working toward completion,” I am certain water would have been in the basin. However, we at Grace that day had begun to suffer from ennui, assuming that God’s miracle wouldn’t occur during worship.

How pitiful our faith must seem in such moments to God, how limited our imaginations. God is at work in us, through us, around us, despite us. God’s will will not be prevented and His work continues. So let us wait with great expectation. Let our hearts, eyes, ears, and hands be open so that we are ready to welcome those who are sent our way. Whether the child of God comes as a babe in a manger or a bedraggled man in his mid fifties, a child in a group home or a teen in a foster home, let us look for them and receive them. Fetch the water and fill the basins, God’s love is being poured out.

Read Advent Week 1
Read Advent Week 2
Advent Week 3
Read Advent Week 4