By Lee Hammonds, Jr.
Red Springs, NC – This global pandemic has transformed the way we worship and the vehicles used to spread the gospel message. We are in uncharted waters finding innovative ways to worship, yet heeding the warnings of the CDC, as well as our local, state, and federal authorities. Bishop Monroe encouraged his pastors and leaders to move forward exercising great caution as to not demonstrate our faith in a “belligerent manner.” He further encouraged leaders by saying, “Do NOT defy the policies of the government and health officials; do NOT act in a manner that would embarrass God and the church or lessen the influence of the church.”
Instead of simply telling his Episcopal area to do as I say, Bishop Monroe has modeled what he is teaching his Episcopal District. On any given Sunday, since the beginning of the Shelter-in-Place orders and reduction in numbers allowed in the houses of worship, one can find Bishop Monroe worshipping with his home church, St. James A.M.E. Zion Church in Red Springs, North Carolina in outdoor services utilizing the guidelines of the state. Of course, Bishop is not asking anyone to participate in “Drive-In” worship or any form of worship that defies your personal level of comfort during this COVID-19 invasion. Bishop Monroe has continually inspired and encouraged the Eastern North Carolina Episcopal District during these adventures of uncertainty through other mediums such as meditations, video messages, and conference calls to his various annual conferences.
This virus outbreak has forced all leaders to move forward against the natural current of wind to be mentally rigid. We’ve been forced to get out of our comfort zones and do a new thing. I applaud Bishop Kenneth Monroe for his flexibility to not only attend the outdoor worship but to also preach during Pastor Sharon Mitchells’ absence as she underwent a medical challenge. We the members of St James A.M.E. Zion Church, Red Springs, NC salute our Bishop for his legitimate, loving, and luminary leadership!