Q. What makes this church unique?
One of things that we’re intentional about is being inclusive. We’re literally, as it says, “whosoever will let him come.” We want that verse to be the diversity that happens with us. It’s a Presbyterian church, but many times people will leave here and they would say, “I didn’t know that was a Presbyterian church.” The idea is to be inclusive. You can sit beside somebody with a GED and on the other side of you would be a professor from UNCC, a couple of addicts in front of you and people who are in the closet behind you. The uniqueness of C.N. Jenkins is that it is multi-generational. So you’re going to intentionally see your parents, your grandparents, your great grandparents and the whole nine.
Q. What is the church’s vision?
Our vision is continuing to be an outpost for mission and service. We have a tremendous connection to Ministry of Recovery. We host an NA group on Tuesday and Saturday night, and we host an Alocholics Anonymous group on Monday night. Each of those gatherings can go up to 150 to 250 persons. So in actuality, with those groups, we could have coming through our doors just as many persons as come on Sunday morning. Through the week we host something we call Fine Arts Ministry. Fine arts include dance, art, drama, liturgical interpretations and steel drums. Then we’ve added an education component to our fine arts, which includes SAT prep and a Spanish and English as a second language. That is one of our tremendous programs. We want to be a regional church where people will not mind driving from some distance to be spiritually fed necause have a sense of community and connection.
Q. What the church’s beliefs?
Jesus, family, multiple generations and inclusiveness.
Q. What type of ministries and programs are offered?
As mentioned, in terms of the 12-step program ministry of recovery, intentional outreach to persons who are in transition and that transition will be homeless men, homeless women, persons, as we know now, without jobs. We are engaged in a partnership with Goodwill Industries, and we hope to host them here in a couple of months as they do some job training, they’re going through some reorganization remodeling down there, so we hope to bring them in as well. I mentioned the fine arts; we have traditional ministries as it relates to women, men, the missionary circle: men’s prayer breakfast, Habitat for Humanity, some projects that will include bridging the gap, tutorial programs, lunch buddy programs and a large AARP chapter that meets on campus. Then we have something called “Wisdom Keepers” again these are seniors, retired persons, who we don’t want their reservoir of knowledge to be sitting on the shelf. We also see ourselves as a ministry where persons can explore their call to ministry. I’ve been here 18 years and we’ve had 13 persons to go through seminary while being here and we want to continue to make sure that is a place.
Q. What are the greatest strengths of the church?
I think it’s its people and their expression and love to God. This is literally a place where we say, borrowing from the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, “unashamedly black, unapologetically Christian.” Your culture, your ethnicity, are affirmed here. You don’t have to sugarcoat it, you don’t have to water it down. You are African and you are American here.
Q. How do you foster spiritual growth for individuals in the church?
I think that happens through small groups, some intentional and some inadvertent. One thing about spiritual growth, one, the Bible talks about do you want to be made well, and a lot of times we will say, yes, I want to get stronger, I want to grow deep in the word, I want my church to grow, I want my spiritual life to grow, but it’s easier said than done. The spiritual growth part comes from intentional bible studies. We have bible studies noonday on Tuesday, Wednesday night is the men’s group, Thursday night is the men and women group, a book study kind of group. Also Thursday night is the young adult bible study, it’s topical. Tuesday nights, we have something called “Hot Topic” Tuesday which, the old school would call it “old school rap session” which turns into a discussion bible study. So we have those kinds of appendages that’s onto the body, then prayerfully as they are fed and nurtured, that will make the body stronger.