On Sept. 6, the Durham City Council will hold a public hearing on whether the Golden Belt area should become the city’s eighth local historic district, and what its boundaries should be. Durham Rescue Mission (DRM), which owns 13 properties in the proposed district, including vacant lots the group has no plans for and houses they have neglected, does not want to be included in the historic district, saying historic preservation rules would limit its future plans.

How do historic preservation rules limit a Christian mission of serving the community and poor? If the houses had been cared for, they would be a testimony to the community of the importance and beauty of stewardship. Maintaining and properly caring for the houses would be arguably less expensive than new construction. Working from original mill houses in East Durham would allow DRM to be an authentic part of the community – rather than separate – and provide a natural community platform for witnessing God’s love.