Adapting to holding NCS meetings online due to the COVID-19 pandemic is one challenge thrown at NCS in 2020. The racial justice conversations brought front and center with the death of George Floyd is another.
NCS East and NCS Davie County ended up tackling both at the same time...and doing something that the groups have been wanting to do for a long time – meet together.
The move to online meetings allowed NCS East and NCS Davie County to combine their NCS gatherings, something they had been trying to figure out how to do with given the physical distance between both groups. Going virtual simplified the “how-to”.
“It was an easy decision to combine them. It was an answered prayer. Then once we started coming together, the opportunity to talk about race presented itself,” shared Kevin Frack of NCS Davie County.
Initially, the combined group started out with a variety of speakers but with time, the topic of discussion evolved to race. Since the group had been meeting for a few weeks by that time, there was already a forum of trust and relationship in place. Both Frack and NCS East leader, Guy Morgan, wanted to use the meeting opportunity for the African American men of faith to share their stories and be heard by other men in the group.
NCS East is very diverse, with members ranging from homeless people to business leaders. The ratio of black to white is around 50/50. Not all NCS members may realize this.
“Having conversations we all need to have about race is sometimes uncomfortable but also fruitful,” said Morgan.
“There have been expressions of feelings; individual speakers have shared challenges that they’ve had to face. So often, we are trapped in our own world and think everyone should have the same perspective. One thing coming out is that we really do not know all that we think we know. We assume everyone should know certain things. This experience, as well as what’s happening in our country right now, makes us realize that we don’t,” Morgan explained.
NCS members don’t all attend the same church or go to the same social organizations. Yet Frack, Morgan and the men participating in the meetings have found that they are really all one under the blood of Jesus. They’ve seen that the NCS men are very open to trying to understand each other race’s experience.
“We are all brothers and we should be working together to share the love that Jesus first shared with us,” said Morgan.
Frack saw how important it was for the men impacted by experiences of racial injustice to get to tell their stories.
“It was a most powerful thing - the East group of men wanted to be heard. The sharing of testimony and pain helped the white brothers to say ‘I never realized that goes on in you because it doesn’t go on in me.’ My hope is that the setting of our meeting, with trust across the table, is allowing African American men to show vulnerability and feel like they are being heard,” said Frack.
Now that NCS East and Davie County have found a successful way to meet together, Guy hopes that it continues. In his mind, there is a need to keep the dialogue going...listening to each other and learning.
Frack agrees. He feels that the ease of doing joint meetings virtually broadens the potential audience. He hopes that after social distancing is over, they will keep doing some joint virtual meetings, maybe for special events. And having a closer relationship with Guy Morgan has been in his words “beautiful”.
“The dialogue and love has diminished some of the disruptive violence that, thankfully, Winston-Salem has not experienced. Men of faith are at the table having the hard conversations, not in always in complete agreement. However, knowing that you’re heard changes it from being a battle to figuring out what comes next. Not always easy but very powerful.”