on the streets from time to time, join Dew, working side-by-side with a smooth familiar rhythm. Wilson, whose bushy beard makes him look lionlike, places a Bible in each chair. Tatum rolls large round folding tables into place for the simple meal that New Creation shares after the service.
Soon, others arrive. Two Wake Forest University divinity students, who travel from Winston-Salem each Sunday, come in and chat with friends. Amy Robinson, a 42-year-old woman who joined New Creation in 1992, greets Wilson.
“Alan, I have a coat for you, and I meant to bring it tonight,” she says. “It’s sitting on my bed, and I forgot. Will 2X be too big?”
“It might be,” Wilson replies. “I’d like to try it on if you don’t mind. Thank you for thinking about me.”
Robinson says she joined New Creation because the folks there “walk the walk. They say, ‘You know we are Christians by our love,’ and I can see that in our congregation in the things that we do."
Three years ago, Robinson found herself in the intensive care unit at Baptist Hospital. A life-threatening infection caused by flesh-eating bacteria required 12 major surgeries in 21 days. She had to learn to walk and talk all over again.
“I don’t remember a whole lot about the surgery, but what I do remember is waking up, and every time I opened my eyes there was somebody from New Creation there, as well as my family,” she says
New Creation flourishes, she says, under Dew’s leadership. “He always shows us a sermon, and then preaches it to us. He’s believable because of what he does with his life.”
Rick Tatum, 56, who has a grown son, a stepson, and six grandchildren, agrees.
“I know that at three o’clock in the morning I can get an answer whenever I got a problem. I got Frank [Dew] on speed dial. I got people I know I can call. Sometimes that’s all I need. When things go bad, I just need somebody to talk to, and they will always listen.”
Anne McKee, 82, and her late husband, Charles, spent years living as missionaries in Africa, where church was nontraditional, something they liked. At New Creation, she says, “We have no edifice complex. We’re not putting money in building. We’re not putting money in stuff. We’re putting money in people.”
McKee is proud of the fact that New Creation foots the bill for two black Presbyterian students from South Africa to attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. “We just have a lot of hands-on stuff,” she says
Seeing with New Eyes
These stories of New Creation members are balm for Dew. In the early years, he says, “We weren’t connecting with the people at Weaver House."
Hoping to remedy that, they began holding worship at Weaver House on Sunday mornings. The ties formed during these services have been a bridge, says Dew. “When someone needs God hourly, daily, to deal with substance abuse, to deal with unemployment, to deal with health circumstances,” he says, “they are teaching us about dependence on God.”
In return, New Creation tries to help those at Urban Ministry “see themselves as God sees them,” says Dew. “In the process of that exchange, we come together, building bridges back and forth between the church and the poor.”
He acknowledges that the view from those bridges isn’t always flattering. When members of New Creation’s sister church in Managua, Nicaragua, came to visit, the contrast in lifestyles was stark.
“We had experienced going to live in their homes, but it was kind of weird when they came to where we live,” he says. “It helped us to see ourselves through their eyes. We realized more and more the disparity between their standard of living and ours. We were feeding them meals on disposable plates. They were asking us, ‘Why are you throwing those things away?’”
Gayle Wulk, 66, a retired professional and the mother of two adopted Guatemalan children, ages 11 and 17, has worshipped at New Creation for 20 years.
“You don’t do community without participation,” she says. “Unlike the churches of the past that I’ve gone to, where they were perfectly happy to have you on the rolls as long as you sent a check in periodically, this church demands presence, and that does stretch you.”
New Creation is trying to extend the circle to involve more people in the life of the church, but at the same time