Rocky Mount, North Carolina is a town of over 60,000 people straddling Nash and Edgecomb Counties in North Carolina’s Eastern region. The surrounding region has upwards of 150,000 people. The city has a growing arts community, several post-secondary institutions such as North Carolina Wesleyan College and Edgecombe Community College, and Nash General Hospital, opened in 1971, which was the first all-private room hospital in North Carolina.
What Rocky Mount does not have, however, is an Orthodox Church. On Holy Thursday this year (April 21), a gentleman arrived at our Greenville, NC Orthodox Church, Nativity of the Holy Theotokos, in order to attend services. After the service, he told us that he actually lived in another state, but was visiting family in Rocky Mount, and upon researching Orthodox Churches in the area, discovered that ours was the nearest parish. He had to drive nearly an hour to reach us, and in fact, he came again on Holy Friday and for Pascha itself.
We were impressed by this man’s dedication to Orthodoxy, such that he would make the trek three times in a row. While at least two of our families travel an hour or more for each service, we understand that not everyone is “built” to withstand such. Rocky Mount has a lot of families that are suffering economically, and with gas prices being nearly four dollars a gallon, and with many people not having reliable transportation, we are keenly aware of how the prospect of having to drive an hour each way for services might be unattainable for many.
Should then the people of Rocky Mount be without the Church? Naturally, some will ask why they do not just attend a non-Orthodox Church, but we Orthodox understand ours to be the original Church established by Jesus Christ Himself, which has passed down through the centuries under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We cannot simply commend these people to God’s mercy and hope for the best! If we Orthodox claim that we are the true Church, we must do everything in our power to spread the faith to every corner of the world ourselves, and not rely on others. The people of Rocky Mount need Jesus Christ as much as the people of Greenville, Raleigh, New York City, and Athens, yet they do not have the same opportunity to worship in an Orthodox Church as the people in the above-mentioned cities do.
Are you a resident of Rocky Mount who has stumbled across this blog posting? Do you have questions about Jesus Christ, the Orthodox Church, the Bible, or Church history? Do you feel that for some reason, you are being called to join with us in our work, perhaps forming the nucleus of a study group in Rocky Mount that might one day lead to become an Orthodox Christian mission parish? Then do not hesitate to contact us today!
Are you already Orthodox? Will you join us in prayer, to ask God to lift up the people of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, that they will one day have the chance to worship God in the ancient Christian manner, the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, which is the antidote to the never-ending search for “relevance,” the never-fulfilling striving for something “new”? If you care about your Orthodox faith, then pray for us and for these people, and for the people near you who are in a similar situation, and do everything in your power to reach out to them as well. Perhaps you are being called to replicate our efforts in your own area. You are invited to contact us for helpful advice on this point as well.
God bless you all!