Originally published in July 2021
“We are the armor bearers for Elizabeth City”
The Faith & Victory Christian Church (FVCC) [https://www.fvccfamily.org] is a non-denominational church that Bethsaida Ruiz and I visited in June in Elizabeth City, NC. It truly acts as a modern-day church, much like churches of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. You are welcome in their church dressed to the nines or in jeans, no matter whom you love or where you are from. They have an incredible choir and their music is part of their joyous celebration of life and God.
An Activist Church
FVCC folks organize, march, protest and serve the community in every way possible: feeding the hungry, serving the sick and mentally ill, and, especially important now, providing Covid education, testing and serving as a vaccination site. They are involved in public policy, civic engagement and outreach to the whole of their community. Led by Dr. Larry and Pastor Gloria Brown, they educate their young people to prepare and go to college, they attend city council meetings, and are active in decisions made by the Health Department.
Also like churches during the Civil Rights Movement, they have faced ugly threats, frightening intimidation, stress, anxiety and outright violence. Shots have been fired around the FVCC church and pastors’ home. Dr. and Pastor Brown are nervous about calling the sheriff. Drivers act aggressively, such as doing wheelies in the parking lot and front yard of their church and home. While walking down the road in their own neighborhood, a man came out to the end of his driveway and pointed an assault rifle at Dr. Brown and one of their young ministers. The man started talking about the Confederacy.
A city councilman who owns a local funeral home and who marched in the protest against the sheriff’s department slaying of Andrew Brown, Jr. filmed the sheriff actually urinating on the funeral home’s lawn, apparently in retaliation for speaking out. Another FVCC member said she is afraid to go out of her house in the evening. A white couple from Elizabeth City, who marched with FVCC at the protest and are close family friends of Dr. and Pastor Brown, were threatened to the point that the couple moved out of state.
Yet the Browns say, “God has called us to be the armor bearers interceding for Elizabeth City and around the world. We are a supernatural church, composed of supernatural people, doing supernatural things.”
Our Work with FVCC to Go Forward
Bethsaida and I led a visioning session with several of the leaders of the church as well as several of the youth. They have amazing hope to expand their church space, especially to provide increased tutoring and services to the communities’ youth. They want to significantly grow their outreach to the community around health services, mental health, housing and healthy eating. They also spoke of doing more education around voting registration and Get-Out-the-Vote. And sadly, because it is necessary now, one of their hopes is funding to pay for security.
We truly enjoyed our visit with this amazing group of activists who are part of this church and especially thank Pastors Larry and Gloria Brown for their brave and unflinching leadership.
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