Q. What makes this church unique?
The church is unique because it is a traditional church that strives to minister to the contemporary culture. We seek to offer ministry that meets all the needs, regardless of economics, educational or social placement or status.
We want you to feel comfortable here. Even our worship service is designed to go from “high church” to “have church.” We sing traditional hymns and then the choir may sing an anthem or a spiritual. They can do anything form Handel to Hawkins. From the elders, someone who is 102 years old, to a baby; they all have a place here.
We celebrate our Methodist heritage, but at the same time we try to understand that we’re also ministering to some people who’ve never been to church, so we try to have a holistic ministry.
Q. What is the church’s vision?
We’re part of the AME Zion church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church, which is called the “Freedom Church,” founded in 1796 in New York City by freed slaves who did not feel welcomed in a Methodist environment that was run by European Americans. They were discriminated against, so they started their own church. The AME church also was founded in Philadelphia a few years earlier, and these were two state denominations.
We have celebrated such members as Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, all were members of AME Zion church. The church as a whole has sought to continue that legacy of freedom and fighting for the needs for the least of these, those who have been treated unjustly, so we’re a part of that.
Little Rock also embraces what I call “excellence in ministry,” which I feel is achieved when five components exist: that God is glorified (Everything we do we seek to do it to bring attention to God and not to ourselves.), that Jesus is magnified (Every ministry should be a door through which someone can receive Jesus Christ.), that people are edified (We seek to build people up instead of tearing them down.), that faith is fortified (Just as your body needs to be fed, your spirit needs to be fed.) and ministry is multiplied (Over the last three years, our ministries have tripled, and all of them are active.)
Q. What are the church’s core beliefs?
We seek the salvation of all people. God has a purpose for everyone’s life. Our job is to help them understand what their purpose is and celebrate the fact that, whoever you are, there’s a reason why you exist. We come here to be disciples, and in return we are to make disciples. That means offering them salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. We want everybody saved.
Q. What type of ministries and programs are offered?
For every need, there’s a ministry. If people are hungry, there’s a ministry for that, called the Bread of Life Ministry. We’re a part of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. We have a tutorial ministry every Tuesday and Wednesday. We have a children’s choir, a wonderful mass choir that sings all kinds of music, an awesome band, liturgical dancers for all ages, Sunday school, Bible study twice a week.
The church is always engaged and always has something going on. We’re still seeking to find out more that we can do to enhance our ministry to the community of Charlotte and beyond. We now have a community development corporation that we’re getting off the ground. We’re in the process of re-acquiring the Afro-American Cultural Center building. That was the old Little Rock Church. We’re going to buy it back from the city and house our community development corporation in that building. We’re hoping to be able to partner with other agencies that are interested in helping people up, instead of giving them a handout.
I can go on and on and on, because God is so good. We just want to be a part of the community. We want to open our doors to the community. We want people to know that we don’t want to be exclusive. You can find a place wherever you are. There’s so much going on here. It’s an awesome place.
Q. What are the greatest strengths of this church?
Its history, its location. We’re just blessed to be one of the few African American churches in uptown Charlotte, a center city church. We celebrate our history and the fact that we have tried to be a church that welcomes everybody, anybody. We have a long tradition. The church was founded in 1884, and we’re still relevant. The church is still growing and still active and doing alright.
Q. How do you foster spiritual growth for individuals in the church?
Once they become a member, they’re all invited to find their ministry. Everybody has something they can do. If you can’t sing, there’s some place for you. With 50 ministries, there’s a place that fits you. Our job is to try to encourage everyone to find their place. Find a place where you fit best, where you can express yourself without offending anyone. We try to get everybody involved and celebrate the gifts that God has given them, so we can be a greater and stronger church for the community.