By Mary Kaylor
CBFNC Associate Coordinator
About two weeks ago, Helen Reddy passed away. Many remember her as the Grammy winning ‘I Am Woman’ singer. Her words struck a chord with listeners, becoming a rallying cry for the women’s liberation movement and reaching the top of the Billboard Hot 100 at the end of 1972. “It’s one of the few songs whose impact extends well beyond music, inspiring countless people to affect real change in their lives and worlds. It’s a roar that is still reverberating,” writes Joe Lynch for Billboard (https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/9457808/helen-reddy-i-am-woman-number-one). For me, hearing about Reddy’s passing brought to mind another of her songs.
In 1977 Reddy starred in Disney’s Pete’s Dragon as Nora, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter. The movie tells the story of Pete, an orphan with a dragon, Elliott, as his only friend. Through a series of events Pete meets Nora and her dad Lampie and [SPOILER ALERT] they become a family. In true Disney fashion there are some great songs in the movie, one even being nominated for an Oscar, and my favorite being There’s Room for Everyone. That song instantly started playing in my mind when news broke of Reddy’s passing.
While on the surface Reddy is singing about the need for the small community to welcome and make room for Pete’s (imaginary as far as she knows) dragon, the song itself has a deeper meaning. Over and over Reddy sings about there being more than enough room in this world for every single part of creation. The closing lyrics are:
There’s room for everyone in this world,
Will everyone make some room?
Love given freely can spare this world,
Let friendly feelings bloom!
Just give an inch, give a yard, never flinch
When the time comes to offer a hand.
So, let’s all make sure we give everyone somewhere to stand,
Just the way God planned it, just the way God planned.
Again, I know the song was written about a dragon for a kid’s movie but the words are so poignant and relevant for us today. For me Reddy’s words here are a roar that are still reverberating in the work of CBFNC’s new missions program, the Welcome House Community Network.
In August we announced this new missions program for CBFNC, which is an outgrowth from the network of churches across our state, and into TN, who have made space and extended holy hospitality to the vulnerable people in their communities. This group of temporary housing ministries, called Welcome Houses, began in the Raleigh-Durham area in 2015 when Marc & Kim Wyatt, CBF field personnel, along with local churches opened a home for refugees and immigrants. Since then, the network has grown to include seven houses and welcomed hundreds of people and families in need of a safe space.
Last weekend, October 9-12, our Executive Coordinator Larry Hovis cycled over 200 miles (mostly in the rain) from the Blue Ridge Parkway to the state capital in our Welcome Ride—the first fundraising effort to support this new mission program. The funds raised will help the Welcome House Community Network provide at least five new ministry grants to partner congregations to open their own welcome houses or similar hospitality ministry.
You can still give to this campaign (https://secure.qgiv.com/for/wr2), purchase a t-shirt (https://inktothepeople.com/cbfnc-welcome-house-community-network), or conduct your own “Welcome Ride” and fundraiser (https://cbfnc.org/embrace/welcome-ride/).
And more importantly, consider how you can make room, to give everyone somewhere to stand!