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home : news : lifestyles October 19, 2019

7/28/2019 7:01:00 AM
Carson Dean Leads Mount Holly Nonprofit
Creating a place where all can come together
Dean shelves a book at the new bookstore in the Journey’s Way Ministries location in downtown Mount Holly.(Photos Courtesy Thomas Lark)
Dean shelves a book at the
new bookstore in the Journey’s
Way Ministries location in
downtown Mount Holly.


(Photos Courtesy Thomas Lark)

(Top) Carson Dean holds his 2-year-old daughter, Sarah.
(Bottom) Dean speaks with his sister-in-law, Stanley Middle School Principal Rebecca Huffstetler.

(Top) Carson Dean holds his
2-year-old daughter, Sarah.

(Bottom) Dean speaks with his
sister-in-law, Stanley Middle School
Principal Rebecca Huffstetler.


Journey’s Way’s Latin
motto says it all:
“serve est” or “to serve.”



Thomas Lark
Staff Writer


MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. - Something exciting is happening in downtown Mount Holly.

It’s Journey’s Way Ministries and its related used bookstore, and they’re both led by Carson Dean, a retired nonprofit executive. Speaking recently at his new digs downtown, Dean, 50, a Raleigh native who has called Mount Holly home for the past few years now, told The Herald all about his latest endeavors. Created April 24, the new nonprofit and its concomitant bookstore will open officially on Aug. 20.  

“Journey’s Way Ministries is a work in progress,” he observed, “based on fulfilling God’s Will, not ours. What we do today may differ vastly from what may come in the future. However, our purpose and mission will remain steadfast. The bookstore is part of a way just to draw people in. We’ve got some more long-term term plans to do some other things as well. But it’s a conversation starter.”

Dean is a veteran of nearly two decades of work in nonprofit organizations. His professional experience leans heavily toward helping the homeless, including leading the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, a position that brought him to the Queen City, 2008-16.

He earned bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees in history, respectively at North Carolina State and Appalachian State universities. As well, he earned a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University’s continuing education program. Dean is also an inaugural cohort graduate of Charlotte’s Leadership Gift School, a unique collaborative effort that teaches area nonprofit leaders the art and science of professional fundraising. 

“I spent almost 20 years in nonprofits,” he said. “But they’re ultimately not going to change our society. We’ve got to find a way to better understand one another and bring our communities together in God’s Kingdom. And that will only come through building relationships.”

And that’s what Journey’s Way is all about. Its motto is “serve est,” or, from the Latin: “to serve.” At Journey’s Way, books, items and classes will always be free. The nonprofit will feature a pay-as-you-can method: pay what you think is a fair-value price for the selected books, and then “pay it forward” with an additional donation to help Journey’s Way offset the costs of providing free books and other activities. Payment will be taken in cash or by credit card.

“We don’t want finances to be a barrier,” said Dean.

Such altruistic efforts, he added, are all about helping people come together.

“And Mount Holly is no different from anywhere else,” he remarked, “certainly not most other small towns. We want people to be more comfortable.”

The creation of Journey’s Way didn’t come easily, as Dean revealed.

“It took me a long time to come to this point,” he said.

He added that the nonprofit seeks to serve the mission field that is Mount Holly; provide time, space and a place to gather; bring diverse peoples together; sponsor guided activities to grow spiritually; and engage in paid-forward entrepreneurial activities.

But it’s not a church, as Dean emphasized, nor is it a food pantry or clothing closet. It doesn’t provide financial assistance, and it won’t engage in partisan politics or endorse any political candidates.



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More about Dean and Journey’s Way

Dean and wife Molly, a Medicaid policy specialist for the State of Virginia, have been married for four years. They have a 2-year-old daughter, Sarah, and a 16-year-old son, Riley.

Mr. Dean also spoke further about Journey’s Way and its historic 1920’s location of just less than 1,000 square feet. Plans are to make the space available for people to use at various times. The bookstore part of things may be open three days a week.

I don’t totally know what the ultimate vision will be,” he said, “because that’s in God’s Hands. We want to bring people together to better understand and love one another. And it’s God’s plan, not Carson’s plan. For me, that’s the challenging piece.

“Say someone comes in and says, ‘Man, I have a passion for tutoring,’” he continued, citing one example. “That would be something we’d consider providing the space for. Or a self-help support group. We’d be open to do that. We want to be a conduit. We want to help the community to do that. Whatever we do, it has to be something open for the whole community. We want it to be welcoming to all. And we want people to come and visit and pursue their love of reading.”

Dean said that the location of Journey’s Way is no accident.

“We wanted to be part of historic downtown Mount Holly,” he said. “We particularly wanted to be in this part of downtown, because it’s so easily accessible to everyone. We chose to rent a space, so we’re contributing to the economic vitality of Mount Holly.

“It’s an inspiration and a calling from God,” he continued. “I do think an important piece for me is that when we chose the chose business model of a bookstore, we did so in order not to compete with any of the existing businesses in Mount Holly. Our ministry is this, because we want to do what God has called us to do.”

And Dean extolled his adopted hometown.

“Mount Holly is a wonderful small town,” he said. “But like any small town, we could certainly benefit by people with different backgrounds and perspectives breaking bread together. I’ve heard so many stories from people who live in the same town, yet they’ve not seen each other in years! That’s amazing.

“As Molly says, ‘Mission work needs to start in your own backyard,’” he added. “You might say we want to share, care and pray together. And if I can put a book in the hands of a little kid from time to time, then it’s all worth it.”

Journey’s Way is located at 118 E. Central Ave. in Mount Holly. To learn more, call (704) 249-2534 or e-mail Dean at carson@journeyswayministries.org.


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