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Pastor delivers emotional final service before departure

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BUTNER — The Rev. Alice Wade Davis, pastor at both the Community and Stem United Methodist churches, delivered her final service for the congregations on Father’s Day.

Davis accepted a position as an associate pastor at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Greensboro, where she lives.

Davis began as pastor of the Community and Stem churches in 2017. She was the first African American pastor of Stem UMC and the first African American woman to serve as pastor of Butner’s Community UMC.

During her time at the churches, she made strides toward making Community UMC, in her words, “an inclusive church,” aiming to ensure the church is open to all people, regardless of gender, background or ethnicity.

Davis helped build and maintain several church programs, making sure both the food bank and children’s reading programs at Community UMC continued to run unabated.

She also enthusiastically supported the migrant farm workers’ ministry at Stem UMC, which invites migrant farmers from Latin American countries to worship at the church and receive special care packages prepared by church members, should they need them.

As part of her efforts to provide welcoming and inclusive environments at her churches, Davis started a tradition called NFL Sunday — short for “New Fellowship Living” — every third Sunday. Davis said she would “invite anybody in that would love to come in as they are” to help create an open, easygoing environment for anyone who wanted to worship in her churches.

“It’s just been a huge success,” Davis said.

Davis looks back very fondly on her time in Butner and Stem. Despite the small size of her churches and congregations, she said she was proud to have served and met people with hearts “so full of love.”

The kind of love and respect she’s seen in Butner and Stem cannot be measured “with a dollar or a penny” and that she felt “called by God” to serve these communities, she said.

Davis served as a chairperson on the board of directors for Wayne County’s Department of Social Services for nearly eight years. She said her service there was rewarding and “a wonderful thing” that allowed her to both see how groups of marginalized people live and support them effectively through her work.

While Davis performed her final service Sunday, her congregation praised her, with many saying her departure was bittersweet.

Davis said she dearly loved both her time and the people in Butner and Stem. She told the congregation she was not leaving for any reason outside of “being called to a different vineyard” through her work, and that she had spent her time in Butner and Stem serving the “most loving, most affirming, and caring” people she’d ever met.

The Rev. Norma Roberts, who formerly served as pastor of Caroleen United Methodist Church, will succeed Davis.