Meet All Saints, Roanoke Rapids
All Saints, Roanoke Rapids, met in houses during its initial years in the 1900's prior to building its first church building on Hamilton Street, then its current 1922 building on Roanoke Avenue. While the Hobart Upjohn Gothic church building is beloved by the people, the pandemic has reminded us that the people are the church as we learned to connect in different ways.
Meeting on Zoom on Sunday mornings for a virtual social hour and Morning Prayer has allowed members to connect socially and hear familiar and new voices participate in worship. Our organist and choirmaster adapted Zoom settings and microphones and continued to incorporate music during our worship by playing piano from home and inviting other musicians to sing or to play. We were able to listen to many and different hymn tunes as she recorded them on the pipe organ and shared them on social media. We've been able to welcome people who live in other cities and even in other states. The platform has worked well for people with different levels of comfort with technology, from those with no internet access using landlines to those with smartphones and tablets.
As the Black Lives Matter protests and racial tensions rose during the pandemic, Zoom allowed for a safe and accessible space to talk about racism. Tuesdays at Twelve became a place to discuss personal experiences and feelings about race and racism using Waking Up White, Jesus and the Disinherited, Love is the Way and, soon, Soul of America. People have been able to join from home or on their lunch break at work, and new faces have shown up who were glad to have a place to talk about race in their community.
The Daughters of the King chapter organized a Little Free Pantry at the church, accessible 24-7 (pictured, pre-pandemic). The pantry was envisioned as a way to offer snacks and other foods particularly to students at the high school, but, as the pandemic continued, the pantry became highly used as some people experienced food insecurity. It's wonderful to see not only church members fill the pantry, but also random folks from the community. As the winter months brought cold weather, socks were added to the pantry along with food items, to help keep feet warm. This seemingly small act of evangelism has increased our awareness of food insecurity and the difficulties faced by many when trying to obtain food, so we are listening for the Spirit to show us further ways to live the Good News for those who have too little food.
As our buildings largely sat empty of people for nearly a year now, we have also had the opportunity to consider how we use our buildings. At a recent vestry retreat, facilitated by the Rev. Dr. Sally French, regional canon for the east, the vestry members listed our building use as a priority. How can we make use of our buildings and grounds to better serve both All Saints and our community? As an example, we hope to offer our expanded WiFi network to work with local schools to offer internet access to students who have limited or no access at home. The pandemic's limiting our use of buildings helped to raise the question of how we make better use of these assets.
While we are eager, like everyone, for the pandemic to end, we will move into a post-pandemic time having learned new skills and perhaps more ready to seek new ways to do ministry in our community engaging people and better utilizing our assets to live the teachings of Jesus in Roanoke Rapids and beyond.
Tags: Meet the Church