COVID-19 has had an impact on just about all life as we know it. NCS is no exception. While much about the virus pandemic has been bad news, there is some Good News about how God has worked through our groups during this time. Here’s a quick overview of three NCS programs that grew out of the pandemic: Hybrid at the Lodge, Prayer Walks in the City, Davie County Lunches, and Threshing Floor Thursdays.
Hybrid at the Lodge – led by Steve Anthis and Ron Pegram (Tuesdays); led by Jay Helvey and Todd Chase (Fridays)
After spending several months meeting only on Zoom, we held our first in-person meeting on May 26th, once the governor ushered us into Phase 2. While this allowed us to have public gatherings, I knew we would need to retain the Zoom component of our meetings – thus creating our hybrid event.
Throughout the early months of COVID, I had felt that the Zoom portion of our meetings might become permanent. We were seeing guys from areas outside of Winston-Salem that would not normally be able to attend in person. With some technical/production expertise from guys within the group, we were able to make Zoom function in the Lodge.
There was some skepticism about the hybrid approach. But as we continued to obtain feedback and make improvements to Zoom functioning in conjunction with a live audience, it has proven invaluable in our battle against the conditions we face: fear, isolation, uncertainty, a certain level of chaos, etc. Men need interaction with Good News wrapped around it, and using Zoom has helped us expand the reach of our Good News.
God owns our meetings; as servants, we certainly do not. Even though our in-person numbers are now similar to before COVID, we don’t plan to discontinue Zoom. We’ve added more equipment, a production point-person (Brandon Billings, with assistance from A.J. Britton) and expanded the hybrid concept to our Friday meetings. We are thankful for all the guys who show up early and work to make the Zoom integration happen.
Prayer Walks in the City - led by Larry Menconi & Jay Abernathy
The prayer walk came about after a conversation I had with Larry Menconi and Guy Morgan. Individually, we had each felt led to pray for Winston-Salem and its communities. We decided put action to this calling – and the prayer walk concept was born.
The walk itself is pretty simple. We meet in a designated place on Saturday morning at 9am every other week. The location changes depending on where we feel led to walk. The first time we met, we read 2 Chronicles 7 at the Sawtooth amphitheater. We have met and walked in East Winston, Bailey Park and various downtown areas. Men from NCS have invited family, friends, anyone of any age to come out and participate. We try to split up and walk in groups of two or more . Groups can stay out and pray for as long and wherever they feel led.
COVID has had little impact on us because we split up in smaller groups, allowing people to distance themselves as much as they want and, of course, we are mostly outside. I do not see any reason we would not continue after the pandemic and plan on doing the walks as long as the calling to do so remains.
A couple of weeks ago, we met in Bailey Park and while we were gathering, a group showed up for an annual celebration for breast cancer survivors. We were able to pray for healing those still battling cancer and for thanksgiving for those celebrating remission.
We have prayed over businesses and churches; police and the homeless; the sheriff’s department building and the jail; people walking downtown and at the bus station. We pray anywhere and with anyone. I believe that most people who show up to walk stay open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Davie County Lunches - led by Kevin Frack and Jay Abernathy
When COVID changed our in-person meeting plans back in March, we believed it was sign for Davie County and East Winston to begin meeting together through Zoom. This was actually the fulfillment of a long talked-about vision, but what the enemy meant for harm (closing public meetings together), God used as an amazing opportunity to virtually help us build the brotherhood in ways we previously had been unable to do.
Once in-person gatherings were allowed again, the Davie group started meeting for lunch at noon each Thursday at Cornerstone Church while continuing the morning Zoom with the two groups. Each week, we break bread with Jersey Mike’s lunches, share what God is doing in each of us, then pray for and encourage one another.
The lunches provide a face-to-face (at distance) opportunity for brothers to challenge and encourage one another to be salt and light, despite the difficulties COVID brings. The lunches have allowed us to reconnect with some of our men who do not have internet or computer connectivity to participate through the Zoom meetings. Each week the participating brothers shares deeply moving testimonies. We all come away built up from the experience.
It’s hard to say what will happen to Davie County Lunches post-COVID. We want to continue to provide opportunities for those who are unable to connect virtually, while at the same time not doing anything to take away from the gift that the joint East Winston/Davie meetings have become.