In the Bible, the year of Jubilee is a time when God commands freedom for captives, citizenship for immigrants, the return of stolen land, and the cancellation of all debt. In the Jubilee, God’s grace meant a radical restructuring of society, a community organized around love as justice and justice as love, a different kind of world.
Today, when a lot of us find ourselves in the lonely wilderness of debt, alienation, exclusion, and subjection to powers that grind our lives down, we think God calls the church to love as if a world like the Jubilee is possible.
To become that kind of people, we:
Worship to remember the God who exceeds our imaginations and makes all things possible
Gather to offer each other nourishment and healing
Struggle against all that holds us captive as individuals and as working people
Liberate each other from our debts
As such, it is the policy of Jubilee Baptist Church to welcome and affirm members, leaders, and staff of any identity, regardless of age, ability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Jubilee is a replant of Ephesus Baptist Church, an historic Chapel Hill congregation founded in 1891.
In the Fall of 2018, Ephesus' members began praying for a new beginning. The church had served a world where the average person could hold a steady job, settle down with a family, and had ample leisure time to give to a church community. But now the norm is that people are indebted, overworked, and have to move from place to place to keep employment. The church benefited from years of stability but now had to figure out how to embody Good News in more precarious times.
We started searching for a new beginning by looking back. We told stories of how we’d seen God at work in this place through the years. Alongside Bible studies and countless meals, we remembered that our sanctuary is built from materials taken from the barracks at the old Camp Butner: that our space is made of swords beaten into plowshares. We remembered that this church has always been a place for people of all abilities. We remembered how through the years, Ephesus gave material help to families of the incarcerated, and we remembered that in the mid-1980s, the church embraced members with HIV/AIDS.
Through these testimonies, we saw that God has worked among us when we've upended the status quo and made grace tangible. Jubilee arose out of the question, "What would a church like that look like?"
So Jubilee is a new beginning, but one that emerges out of a long history in this place. We're not trying to be cutting edge or innovative, just faithful to what God has always called God's people to be.
We know a lot of people hear the word “Baptist” and think of stuffy legalism or maybe a man in a suit thundering hellfire and brimstone while a flag waves triumphantly in the background. We get why even a lot of Baptist churches have taken “Baptist” out of their name.
But at Jubilee, we want to reclaim an older, more interesting meaning of that word. The original Baptists (like the first Christians) were for the most part workers, poor “mechanick preachers” who heard God calling them without wealth, education, or status. They organized “free churches,” little democracies that dissented from the powers of this world and bore witness to a different world.
“Baptist” just means that our church is organized around freedom in Christ: freedom from oppressive hierarchies and freedom for a different kind of life together. The early Baptists developed several habits that help us practice that kind of life, and those practices are important to us too:
-We read the stories of the Scriptures as our own stories
-We remember we all need each other
-We make decisions together
-We dissent: from power structures that hurt many to benefit the few and any forms of religion that would uphold those structures
Don’t worry about whether you consider yourself a “Baptist,” you come from some other tradition, or you have never been a part of a church. If a community organized around stories, struggles, and the needs and gifts of every member sounds interesting to you, you’ll be right at home.
Jubilee is excited to partner with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and CBF North Carolina
Co-Pastor of Community and Hospitality
Heather was raised in the beautiful mountain town of Blowing Rock, NC and moved to Chapel Hill to attend UNC. She later graduated from Duke Divinity School. Heather is called to the healing ministry of Christ and strives to cultivate safe and loving environments where people experience God's love and justice. Heather and her husband John are the proud parents of Mary Grace, Rebecca, Jonah and Ruthie.
Co-Pastor of Worship and Teaching
Kevin grew up in Texas but moved to North Carolina to attend Duke Divinity School. He is called to tell and retell the stories of the Scriptures in ways that show their honesty and beauty, so that the church can be a more honest and beautiful place. He and his wife Caitlin have two children, Agnes and James.