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Churches look to help the jobless

Charlotte's more than 700 churches are well-tuned to the spiritual needs of their members, and often step in to help with food and shelter. Now Mecklenburg Ministries is urging the churches to offer job support, too, with the Charlotte unemployment rate now over 11 percent. Myers Park United Methodist is one of about 40 churches in Charlotte that has developed a job support ministry. Spokesman Ken Garfield says church groups can give more than resume training and interview tips: "I think folks are smart and they know they can go to community colleges and workshops," says Garfield. "We can offer that here as well. But for folks that come to a church or synagogue group, there is a hunger for some spiritual, prayerful support. And that's obviously something a church can offer that a community college couldn't." Garfield says Myers Park United Methodist holds a regular support group for job seekers and also offers space where they can plug in their laptops and make phone calls away from the chaos at home. Yesterday more than 80 faith-based groups attended a seminar hosted by Mecklenburg Ministries to learn about helping their members deal with unemployment.