There’s someone in North Carolina who wants to be your friend. Her name is Reverend Dayna Carr, and she wants you to know she’s excited to see you when you come to her “living room for the community.” That’s how she describes the center she started in the Glenwood neighborhood of Greensboro in January 2022.
Known as Glenwood Together, the center grew out of Rev. Carr’s desire to give people a safe space where they could know that they’re loved. Here you can find a “fancy” Keurig, soft drinks, snacks and a weekly family dinner.
But more importantly, people who come to this community center discover real friendship, a “living room” where everyone is honored and appreciated. Many of Rev. Carr’s friends live on the margins of life, people who may feel they don’t belong anywhere. Some sleep in the woods, some couch-surf, some struggle with active addictions, some don’t speak English as their first language and some just suddenly disappear.
Rev. Carr has been wrapping her arms around them since first coming to Glenwood as a college intern in 2004.
“I saw a lot of my own story in the kids I was working with in Glenwood,” explains Rev. Carr, who grew up with a front row seat to divorce, domestic violence and substance abuse.
Rev. Carr had thought she was going to college to become a teacher.
“But I felt like the Lord gave me an offer: ‘Be a teacher or take a chance and see what I can do with your story here.’ So, I’ve never left.”
And the ways God has added to Rev. Carr’s story are reflective of Acts 1:8 Holy Spirit power. She’s truly God’s witness in her own community of Glenwood.
When first tutoring and mentoring kids in the neighborhood, Rev. Carr raised support for herself through InFaith, the oldest domestic mission agency in the United States. She lived in a family’s basement for four years until she could afford her own home in Glenwood. She never thought of living anywhere other than that community, which is the most diverse neighborhood in Greensboro and home to many cultures and languages.
In 2012, Rev. Carr helped start a private Christian academy on the Florida Street corridor for low-income students. Hope Academy, a Christ-centered community school, now has more than 120 students from kindergarten through eighth grade.
During the pandemic, as she was praying that God would bring just the right partnership to her, a local church asked Rev. Carr to administer their $60,000 relief fund. As she worked to help people in financial hardship, her desire grew to have a place of hospitality for them.
“I wanted a safe place where people could sit and talk about their day and be listened to. A space where they could share their desires and know their neighbors,” she says.
Glenwood Together became the space for those conversations and connections, as well as the home for a dance program, summer camp, science club, games, Bible studies, activities and mentoring for kids. It even includes a local, urban farm.
Countless lives have been transformed through Glenwood Together — even though Rev. Carr knows she may never see the harvest from the seeds she sows. For example, one family who was always at the center moved 32 miles away — seemingly close, but in actuality so far that they can no longer be part of the community center.
Of course, Rev. Carr would also talk of her own transformed life as a result of relationships with her friends at Glenwood Together: “If you choose to be a friend, that relationship is all about mutuality. My need for you is as much as your need for me. We all are in need if we choose to see people around us as having something to offer us.”
Her abundant respect for all people is evident in her love for them. She says that some of her friends may not be accepted at the corner store, but they’re valued at the community center.
At the end of the day Rev. Carr says her purpose is to be a good friend who loves well. According to Reverend Ken Klein, senior pastor at Christ Wesleyan Church, Rev. Carr does just that. Of his part-time assistant pastor, he says, “People trust Dayna, and her ministry is thriving. She makes everyone feel loved and appreciated. She’s a rock star!”
To which Rev. Carr would reply simply, “This is the space where I’m called to be a friend.”
Dr. Tonya T. Strickland is a graduate of Wesley Seminary and publishes “Stik and Stone,” a weekly blog-cartoon on the bold and blessed life at Called to Boldness.
*Originally published in “Wesleyan Life,” fall 2023. Click here to subscribe and access our archives.