Exodus Homes’ Jingle Bell Parade, Christmas Lights Festival and Holiday Feast

Saturday December 3, 2011

Jingle Bell Parade  •  Union Square, Downtown Hickory  •  4:30pm

Dress up for Christmas with Exodus Homes and Exodus Church along with youth from the Young People of Integrity, Soldiers of Christ Step Team, Church of the Master United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Unifour Christian Fellowship Church and others for a walking holiday parade from Union Square down 1st St. SW to the Exodus Home campus area in Ridgeview. Sing Christmas carols all the way through town, arriving at Exodus Homes just in time for the start of the seventh annual Christmas Lights Festival and Holiday Feast. This is fun for the whole family! Anyone who wants to be in the Jingle Bell Parade needs to assemble in downtown Hickory on Union Square at 4:00pm, leaving for Exodus Homes at 4:30pm. Come early and do some shopping before the beginning of the parade!      

The Jingle Bell Parade is new this year! We are excited to bring people to downtown Hickory as we reach out to the whole community with the love of God. Rev. Reggie Longcrier never rests in expanding the vision for the Exodus Movement saying, “We appreciate all the community has done to support us, and we want to give back just a little of the joy we have experienced in our work.”       

Christmas Lights Festival and Holiday Feast  •  Free Family Festival!  •  Exodus Homes  •  5:30 pm – 7:30pm

Last year the recession caused us to cancel this event but this year we are back BIGGER and BETTER than ever! Join us for a fast-paced Christmas street festival with the Soldiers of Christ Step Team, Exodus Missionary Outreach Church Gospel Choir, Unifour Christian Fellowship Church Praise Team and puppet ministry along with multi- cultural Santas and fun for the whole family. Hickory Ward 4 City Council representative Hank Guess will officiate the lighting of the Exodus Homes rooftop ornament celebrating the birth of Christ and the let the fun begin! Come stroll around the festival and enjoy the free holiday feast provided by Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse, Taste Full Beans Coffehouse, Pepsi, PIzza Hut, Exodus Missionary Outreach Church, Church of the Master UCC, Episcopal Church of the Ascension, and Unifour Christian Fellowship Church. Come get your Christmas on!  This is a holiday event you don’t want to miss, so please join us.    

The Exodus Homes’ 2011 William Mangum Honor Card “Change the World” will be on sale as well as Rev. Longcrier’s new book “From Disgrace to Dignity”. 

If you have a special talent you would like to add in the Jingle Bell Parade or Christmas Lights Festival, or for more information, please contact Rev. Susan Smith 828-962-8196 or revsusansmith@gmail.com

Veteran’s Day Community Service: Supporting the Foothills Homeless Veteran’s Stand Down

Hosted by Church of the Master United Church of Christ and Exodus Missionary Outreach Church

Wednesday November 9, 2011, 7:00pm

Exodus Missionary Outreach Church, 1763 Highland Ave. NE, Hickory, N.C. 28601

A joint service celebrating Veterans Day, and supporting the upcoming Foothills Homeless Veteran’s Stand Down will be hosted by Church of the Master United Church of Christ and Exodus Missionary Outreach Church on Wednesday November 9, 2011 at 7:00pm at Exodus Church. Rev. Bud Zehmer and Rev. Reggie Longcrier will give brief messages, both choirs will sing, and Jim Starkey, Chair of the Foothills Homeless Veterans Stand Down Committee will speak about the event to be held at the Hickory Fairgrounds on April 20, 2012. The offering from the the service will go to support the Stand Down. Light refreshments will be served in the fellowship hall after the service, and information will be available about how the public can support the Stand Down with donations and volunteers. Please join us.

For more information about the service, contact Rev. Susan Smith 828-962-8196 or revsusansmith@gmail.com

For more information about the Foothills Homeless Veterans Stand Down, contact Jim Starkey at 828-294-0184 or foothillsstanddown@gmail.com  or go to www.foothillsstanddown.org   

Veteran’s Anonymous Now Meeting Every Wednesday at Grace House!

Veteran’s Anonymous, Every Wednesday, 1:30pm, Grace House, www.gracechurchnc.org, 600 Highland Ave. SE, Hickory NC 28602

Are you a veteran, or do you know a veteran who would like to fellowship and talk for extra support? Exodus Homes’ Certified Peer Support Specialist Rev. Aaron Wells is a veteran, and is the facilitator for this new group that meets every Wednesday from 1:30pm – 2:30pm at Grace House, the local drop-in community day center for homeless people. Coffee and refreshments will be served in a relaxed and confidential atmosphere aimed to reach out to all veterans who need to know we care. Please join us. 

First Baptist Church of Hickory Gives Exodus Homes a Bus!

Butch Pitts of First Baptist Church of Hickory is seen giving the keys to a 1995 14 seat diesel GMC bus to Rev. Reggie Longcrier, Executive Director of Exodus Homes, a faith-based Catawba County United Way partner agency.  Jerry Ratliff, Exodus Homes Director of Operations was also there to receive the donation. Ratliff coordinates the transportation services of Exodus Homes, and will use it to transport residents of the program, youth in the Young People of Integrity mentoring program, and to bring inmates from Catawba Correctional Center in Newton out for special programs and church on Sunday.

Exodus Homes and Lenoir-Rhyne University Bring Gospel Play to Hickory!

“Pieces of A Dream”
Saturday August 27, 2011, 


Lenoir-Rhyne University, PE Monroe Auditorium

 625 7th Ave. NE, Hickory, NC 28601
For more information, contact Rev. Susan Smith revsusansmith@gmail.com or 828-962-8196.

Exodus Homes in partnership with Lenoir-Rhyne University Lineberger Center for Cultural and Education Renewal is bringing a gospel play, “Pieces of a Dream”, to the PE Monroe Auditorium on August 27, 2011 at 6:00pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by clicking the “Buy Now” button above or at the Exodus Homes office at 122 8th Ave. Dr. SW Hickory NC 28602.  A portion of ticket sales will be donated to the faith-based United Way organization. 

The play is produced by 3 M Productions of Charlotte, a professional theater company. “Pieces of A Dream” is coming to Hickory to help raise awareness about the mission of Exodus Homes. It shows how incarceration alters the dreams of a family, and how forgiveness can help mend their brokenness. It is the story of a father and mother pulled apart at the seams of their marriage by what has happened to their son who has been changed in many ways by being in prison. Harry McDowell, CEO of 3 M Productions, brought the idea to Rev. Reggie Longcrier, Exodus Homes Executive Director, after being impressed by the work of Exodus Homes and wanting to help increase support for the organization.

Dr. Rand Brandes of Lenoir Rhyne University agreed to sponsor the event as part of the Lineberger Center for Cultural and Educational  Renewal series. Dr. Brandes and his staff have been working with 3 M Productions to work out the details of bringing in the play to Hickory at no charge to Exodus Homes.

Gospel plays have been increasing in popularity over the past 10 years. They include inspirational music and usually have timely social themes that leave the audience with something to think about when they leave the theater. In this case, Rev. Longcrier is hoping the audience will leave the theater with a new awareness of the far reaching and long lasting affects of incarceration on the entire family. 

Fund Raiser – Help Exodus Homes Serve More Homeless Veterans!

Thursday July 28, 2011, Crescent Moon Cafe, www.crescentmooncafenc.com
4:00pm – 6:00pm
256 1st Ave, NW, Hickory, NC 28601
For more information, contact:  Paul Byrd of Tar Heel Wealth Management, pbyrd@tarheelwm.com or 828-327-3959

It is well known that many veterans are struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues as a result of the trauma they have experienced serving our country. Many are homeless. Exodus Homes has always served homeless veterans in our faith-based United Way agency that provides supportive housing for homeless people returning to the community from treatment centers and prison. 
The magnitude of the problem has brought the Veterans Administration to Exodus Homes to plead for more beds dedicated specifically for homeless veterans. The VA has funds to support these designated beds for homeless veterans, but Exodus Homes needs help to modify several buildings to meet VA standards for funding. We need handicap accessibility in two apartments. We need ceiling fire prevention sprinklers in one house and six apartments. With this in place, we could dedicate five beds for female vets and 16 beds for male vets. With modification of other buildings, we could do even more.    
We have struggled to survive the recession because of the extraordinarily high unemployment of our residents in Exodus Homes and funding cuts that caused us to lose half of our operating budget since 2008. Even with the creation of jobs in our own enterprises with Exodus Works, we are still not breaking even. New funding from the VA to serve homeless veterans could help save Exodus Homes for all homeless recovering people, but we have to qualify to get it by modifying these buildings.
Veteran Paul Byrd of Tar Heel Wealth Management is coordinating a community fund raiser at Crescent Moon Cafe in downtown Hickory this Thursday July 28, 2011 from 4:00pm – 6:00pm. You will hear from veterans who are already being served by Exodus Homes and how you can help serve more. The Crescent Moon Cafe has a wonderful atmosphere and great food. Please stop by and be a part of the next great miracle in Hickory!       
Let’s be a community that doesn’t throw anyone away – especially those who have served our country and need our help. We hope to see you Thursday between 4:00pm and 6:00pm at the Crescent Moon Cafe in downtown Hickory.  


College of Faith Unity Day Invocation

Seen left to right are Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Pastor of Clinton Tabernacle AME Zion Church; Mick Berry, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; Minister Duane Muhammad, Muhammad Study Group; Dennis Jones, President of Temple Beth Shalom; Rev. Tom Sanford; Rev. Susan Smith, Associate Pastor Exodus Missionary Outreach Church; and Rev. Reggie Longcrier, Pastor of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church.

They represented a College of Faith at the Unity Day event on May 28, 2011 at the Hickory Regional Airport in Hickory , N.C. The College of Faith stood together in unity, offering an invocation in unison that was composed from themes in the Belhar Confession which is a statement of belief originally written in Afrikaans in 1982. It was adopted as a confession of faith by the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in South Africa in 1986, and in other denominations throughout the world since that time.  The confession was named after Belhar, a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, where a general synod of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church was held in 1982.    

Exodus Book Signing Was A Blast!

Rev. Reggie Longcrier is seen talking with Stine Isenhower at the Exodus Memorial Day Blast and Book Signing that occurred on May 28, 2011 at Exodus Missionary Outreach Church in Hickory. Isenhower is a former Catawba County Commissioner, former Catawba Correctional Center Volunteer of the Year, and current member of the Catawba Correctional Center Community Resource Council. He came to the book signing to get a copy of Longcrier’s new book “From Disgrace to Dignity” as did many others in the festive event that was attended by over 300 people. The book can be purchased at Exodus Homes at 122 8th Ave. Dr. SW in Hickory, NC 28602 , or online at www.exodushomes.org.

Twenty percent of proceeds from book sales go to Exodus Homes, a United Way agency that provides faith-based supportive housing to homeless recovering people returning to the community from treatment centers and prison. For more informaiton about the book, go to www.fromdisgracrtodignity.com.

Rev. Reggie Longcrier Signs New Book at Memorial Day Blast Event

Exodus Homes is hosting a free, family-centered Memorial Day Blast and Book Signing at Exodus Missionary Outreach Church, 1763 Highland Ave NE in Hickory N.C. on May 28, 2011 from 4:00pm – 7:00pm to celebrate his new book “From Disgrace to Dignity”, and thank Anna Griffis for her recent run in the 2011 Boston Marathon in Running for Recovery. The Memorial Day Blast event will include great music, a free cook-out for all who attend, fun activities for children, and games for adults such as spades, chess, checkers, and dominoes. The public is welcome to attend. For more information, please contact Rev. Susan Smith at 828-962-8196 or revsusansmith@gmail.com.

Rev. Reggie Longcrier has been the Chaplain of Catawba Correctional Center in Newton, N.C. for 22 years, and it’s hard to believe that one of the most respected community leaders in this area spent 25 years going in and out of prison while addicted to heroin and cocaine. In “From Disgrace to Dignity” his journey begins on the street corners of Atlantic City, N.J. where he began his life of crime as a young boy with purse snatching, shoplifting, and breaking and entering. He began serving time in reformatories at age eleven and graduated as an adult to some of the roughest prisons in the country including Rahway and Rikers Island.
His adventures take readers back in time to the 60’s and 70’s in Atlantic City to places like Bruce’s Pool Room, Stanley’s Restaurant, Club Harlem, the Boardwalk, Carver Hotel, New Orleans and Bala Bars to name just a few. When things got too hot he left for New York, or played Three Card Monte up and down the East coast while selling fake jewelry, playing craps, hustling pool, and perpetrating other ingenious schemes to make fast money.

After being crowned Atlantic City King of the Nightlife in 1980, he winds up down south, in and out of N.C. prisons. He describes spending time in Hickory honky tonks like Talk of the Town where colorful characters with names like Snow Ball and Big Rosie were his friends. He even describes opening his own after-hours night spot in Hickory to earn a legal living while on probation for a five year suspended sentence.

Despite all his dedication to “the game”, his addiction continues to rob him of success, and takes him back to prison again and again. The story turns when he reaches the crossroads of his life in a N.C. prison after facing a 14 year to life sentence for the Habitual Felon Act. His remarkable spiritual transformation is inspiring, and a powerful testimony to the great work of dedicated prison ministry volunteers who mentored him and helped him get back on his feet the last time he left prison.   

The Zerden family of Hickory played a major role in his redemption when Marvin Zerden hired him to work in Zerden’s Men’s Store on Union Square in downtown Hickory in the early 80’s. Longcrier could not find a job because of his criminal record. The Zerden family took him in and made him one of their own, teaching him more about sales than he ever knew before. He worked at Zerden’s for years while he grew spiritually and volunteered at Catawba Correctional Center to show inmates there a new way to live.

In the book’s dramatic conclusion, against all odds Longcrier beats out many other pastoral candidates with degrees and experience to win the job of Chaplain at Catawba Correctional Center in 1985. He is pictured on the book cover smiling in front of the prison with the keys to the gate where he was once an inmate.   

Longcrier explains why he wrote the book, saying, “The intent of this book is not to glorify the lifestyle of crime and drugs, but to pull back the curtain to reveal the slippery slopes and tender traps that lead to a life of incarceration and addiction. I want to give the reader a bird’s eye view of the criminal subculture. It is a baffling, cunning, seductive, tangled web of deceit, greed and drugs. The citizens of this subculture are driven like cattle to be slaughtered mentally, spiritually, and emotionally in prisons throughout the country. I wanted to show that God provides a way out. There can be hope after dope. There can be salvation after incarceration. People can go from disgrace to dignity.

I had never dreamed I would be a prison Chaplain. Only God could take a crooked road and make it straight. Only God could take a convict, and transform him into a prison chaplain. God took my failure and gave me amazing grace. I had a new life with a loving God who made it possible for me to hold my foot in the door for so many others who need another chance to live again.”

Today he is still chaplain at Catawba Correctional Center as well as founding pastor of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church and Executive Director of Exodus Homes, a faith based United Way agency that provides supportive housing for homeless recovering people returning to the community from treatment centers and prisons.

“Rev.” as he is affectionately called, will be on hand at the Memorial Day Blast event to sign copies of his book that are already in the hands of local readers, or for those who would like to purchase a copy that day for $12.95. Five or more copies can be purchased for $10.00 each. He is looking for individuals and churches willing to sponsor cases of 50 books to send to prisons around the state and nation.   

The self published book was edited by Rev. Susan Smith, and has sold well here and in Atlantic City. He is getting letters from all over requesting copies. Many readers report reading the 169 page book in one sitting because they could not put it down. Mike Barlow, an employee at the downtown Hickory post office raved after reading it saying, “Rev. Longcrier’s story is honest, powerful, and very down to earth. He made every word count. The subject matter is raw, but the spirit that tells it is pure. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great book.”  Mitchell Gold, the Taylorsville furniture manufacturer received the book as a holiday gift and said, “I just finished your book “From Disgrace to Dignity a few minutes ago. I’ll simply say it was….without question…THE best gift I received this holiday season.  Bravo!”   

Anna Griffis who recently ran the Boston Marathon 2011 for Exodus Homes in “Running for Recovery” will also be present at the Memorial Day Blast event to thank all those who supported her in raising over $11,000 for Exodus in April. Rev. Paul Christ from the Lutheran Thrivent Foundation will be on hand to present their supplemental gift of $1,600 in the recent fund raiser.

To learn more about the book, visit www.fromdisgracetodignity.com, or you can buy copies of the book online using a credit card, debit card, or PayPal account by clicking the button below:


Anna Griffis Ran for Recovery in Boston Marathon

Last year Anna Griffis came to the 2010 Exodus Homes Running for Recovery celebration to congratulate Angela Hamilton for her success running the Boston Marathon and raising $25,000 for the faith-based United Way agency. She didn’t know then that she would be the one to cross the finish line in the 2011 Boston Marathon Running for Recovery, raising $10,000 for Exodus Homes with donations still coming in after the race. She struggled to run the race despite knee problems so that homeless recovering people returning to the community from treatment centers and prisons would get the support they need to learn a new way to live.

Anna lived in Hickory until last fall when she moved to Washington D.C. to work with chronically homeless people who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse. She is the daughter of Rev. Dr. Thomas Griffis, pastor of St. Lukes United Methodist church in Hickory.

“This was one of the more difficult races that I have ever run.  The weather was perfect, support was incredible, and I truly had a blast doing what I love; however I took a huge risk by starting out much faster than planned, without having trained intensively over the last three months.  Luckily I was able to maintain the pace for the most part throughout the race, but it was not without pain.  Sixteen miles of downhill took a toll on my quads and calves, and my knee ached for about seven miles.

Honestly, Running for Exodus Homes got me through, especially the last two miles.  I thought about my own consumers, and Exodus Homes residents. I thought about how I would be in pain for three and a half hours but how they have been struggling for days, weeks, months and years.  It was a humbling experience. I am so incredibly grateful for Angela Hamilton giving me this opportunity to follow her in such a great effort, and for Rev. Susan Smith’s hard work in organizing everything.  Even though the race is over for me, I know that it is not over for the millions of people who are still struggling to heal, and I will think of and pray for them each and every day.”

Anna finished the 26 mile marathon in 3 hours, 27 minutes and 53 seconds. This was much better than she anticipated. When the announcement was made at Exodus Homes that she had crossed the finish line, the residents and staff cheered in delight.

Ms. Griffis will be in Hickory on Saturday May 28, 2011 at 11:00am at Exodus Missionary Outreach Church, 1763 Highland Ave NE to thank all those who made gifts in the 2011 Running for Recovery Exodus Homes fund raiser. She will display the Running for Recovery banner that went to Boston with the names of all those who made a gift, and looks forward to meeting the residents of Exodus Homes who want to thank her for her tremendous run.