The Heritage display in the 2nd floor hallway now reflects St. John’s in the 1980’s.
There was a lot of mission activity in the decade of the 1980’s as members of St. John’s continued its many mission activities along with some new ones.
Members walked in the CROP walk, donated to both Home and Foreign Missions, volunteered at Highland School, Crisis Assistance, and Friendship Trays, and donated canned goods to the “Charlotte Has Heart” food drive in February. The Youth hosted the yearly Miss Anita Christmas parties, assisted with Bible School and other activities at Dixie Mission, and went on mission trips each summer—Gatlinburg, TN, New Orleans- twice, Washington DC-twice, Brooklyn NY, and Chicago. The puppet team performed on most of these trips. One of the puppets, Michelle who was Debbie Jarrett’s puppet, now resides in the Heritage Room, courtesy of Joy Jarrett. In 1989, the Youth raised money for and stayed in Charlotte to build a House for Habitat for Humanity.
In 1980, the church began the support of a refugee family from Laos. Also in 1980, the church participated in a joint venture with other churches in the establishment of Shepherd’s Center “to create a meaningful ministry and a service to older people”. In January, 1983, a proposal was approved by the church to make the house next door (at the end of the lease term with Miller-Kearns Funeral Home) available for an International Center through Central Piedmont. The Center provided a place for those in the International community to hold meetings and take classes. The offices for the Center were originally housed in the church building but moved into the house in September of 1985, with an official Open House in March 1986.
In August 1982, church members raised almost $30,000 and traveled to Pinch, West Virginia, a small community about 20 miles northeast of Charleston, WV, and assisted in the building of a worship center for Heritage Baptist Church. Rev. Bob Lasater kept a detailed diary of the week which is part of the current Heritage display. The St. John’s members leveled the foundation, built the roof and framed in the new building. A group from First Baptist, Boone arrived later to finish the project. Bill Poe, one of the leaders of the group, described the project as “a way to give tangible expression to a loving concern for other human beings who needed a boost in their endeavor to build a strong church family in a locality short of resources that we take for granted.,, The building may not stand through many storms, but the memory and the meaning of days sent in sweaty physical labor to provide a house of worship which otherwise would not have been built will live as long as any one of us survives on this earth.”
The major mission project of the decade was participating in the summer of 1987 in the Jimmy Carter Habitat Work Project, building 14 houses in Optimist Park, near the intersection of 19th and Caldwell Streets. It was dubbed “Miracle on 19th Street”. The church voted to raise $25,000 but actually raised $33,181, including money raised by the children from bake sales. Not only did the church participated in the building, the church also assisted in daily food preparation for lunches for the workers. At the beginning of the week, the church hosted a dinner for the 425 workers. Harriet Lasater was given a certificate and a hammer signed by Jimmy Carter in appreciation of her work in organizing the food for the workers during the week. Small yellow plastic trowels were given out as mementos. One of these is displayed, courtesy of Jane Winn. Also displayed is the certificate and hammer given to Harriet.
At the end of the week, the Family News reported on the success of the project and included the following- “The memory of people working together for the good of the homeless will not soon fade. . . Although it was extremely hot and tiring, what a tremendous experience it was to complete these houses as projected. What a thrill to watch the families as they moved to their new home; to speak with the children who proudly showed each of us “their” room, to speak with the homeowners as they saw this miracle unfold, trying their new stores and other appliances, to see the excitement as our work crew presented the homeowners with a new dinette set. All of these things contributed to the most personally rewarding week I have ever experienced.”
Note- the Jimmy Carter Work Project is returning to Charlotte in October 2023 to build 20 houses in a West Charlotte neighborhood.