Faith-based group moves meeting

By: By Christine S. Carroll - Staff Writer

ROCKINGHAM — Those wishing to form a faith-based group to perform good works won’t be able to meet at the public library on Saturday, but the reason they can’t is in some dispute.

The Rev. James Brigman of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Rockingham and the Rev. Stella Wall of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Candor led a first gathering of the group in May and planned to meet again at Leath Memorial Library.

But Brigman said Tuesday that he had been told faith groups were not allowed to use county buildings as meeting places.

“They had a couple of complaints,” Brigman said of library staff who he said canceled his reservation for a meeting room.

Brigman said he didn’t consider the gathering “a faith group” because it was intended to welcome those of all religions, as well as those who didn’t subscribe to any faith.

Library supervisor Shannon Hearne said that the library had, indeed, received complaints — as well as other comments — about the proposed meeting, but that wasn’t the problem. The room reservation was not made properly or confirmed, she said, and so never was on the books. The first she heard of it was in the newspaper.

In the meantime, someone else has reserved the space, she said.

Whatever the cause, Brigman has moved the meeting roughly across the street from the library, in hopes of leaving someone outside to flag attendees to the new location.

Brigman and Wall hope to gather a group committed to seeking community-wide answers to poverty, homelessness and other difficulties that plague families in Richmond County so that “people see us in the community, working together … as people of faith.”

The coming meeting will be at 11 a.m., in the fellowship hall of First Methodist Church, 410 Washington St.

The first, in May, was at Brigman’s church, St. Paul United Methodist, and Brigman worried that some people might be uncomfortable attending a church of a particular denomination.

He also said he feared that “a lot of people don’t have respect for the Church” because so many religious people dwelt on their differences and not their similarities. Meeting in a neutral place, he said, might make everyone more comfortable.

“We have to become united as God’s kingdom … I don’t care what faith” — or even lack of faith — a person has, he said, remembering an interfaith prayer session he attended in Washington, D.C., after his walk to Congress to advocate for disabled children. That occasion, he said, inspired the current call to work together.

By Christine S. Carroll

Staff Writer

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]