Cyclists ride to raise awareness of Welcome House Community Network

Staff report

Two amateur cyclists, riding to raise awareness of the Welcome House Community Network, will make a stop in Lumberton on their way from Raleigh to the North Carolina coast.

Larry Hovis, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBFNC), and Chris Mitchell, a deacon and active member of Zebulon Baptist Church, will ride about 160 miles.

The trek, which began today (Friday, Oct. 15) in Raleigh, will take the riders through several communities that support Welcome Houses before they end their ride at about 11 a.m. Sunday.

According to project officials, the 2020 event raised $20,000.

The Network, a ministry of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBFNC), is made up of 24 houses in NC and Tennessee, managed by churches and mostly volunteers in those communities, that provide short-term housing for those in need.

A number of churches are using their Welcome Houses for immigrants, including Afghan refugee families. Some churches have chosen to help residents in their communities who are housing-insecure, whether due to economic circumstances or domestic abuse. More CBFNC churches and communities are expressing interest in setting up Welcome Houses.

“The Network was inspired originally by Welcome House Raleigh, which has been housing immigrants since 2015,” Hovis said. “Of course, with the Afghan crisis, interest in helping refugees is very high right now.

Hovis and Mitchell will be joined by several other cyclists for portions of the route. At the same time, other volunteers, including Raleigh-area college students, are doing their own versions of the event, some choosing to raise funds through social media through biking, walking or other activities.

How to help:

Give online at cbfnc.org/welcome-ride-donations or mailing a check to CBFNC, 2640 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27106.

Host your own “virtual” Welcome Ride (or walk, or any other activity) anytime during the month of October to raise money. Share photos and videos of your activities on social media and tag CBFNC! For more tips on how to do this, go to cbfnc.org/embrace/welcome-ride.

“Though our ride pales in comparison to what these families actually endure, Welcome Ride is symbolic of the journey,” Hovis said. “We hope it provides an invitation and appeal to every CBFNC congregation to join the mission of embracing vulnerable neighbors in their specific communities, showing them Christian hospitality and friendship and most importantly, loving them as Christ has called us to do.”