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Buncombe EOC in Action - Leading By Faith in Uncertain Times

Leading By Faith

Click Here to become a member of the Buncombe County Faith Leaders Group

On March 12, Buncombe County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) pulled together local governments, nonprofits, school systems, and other stakeholders to support a range of community needs stemming from COVID-19. A key stakeholder that keeps our community fabric together is our faith leaders. As we continue to take collective action to safely reopen our community and acclimate to our new normal, faith leaders remain important partners in support of the health of our residents.

Buncombe County convened a range of faith leaders in Buncombe County to engage in this public health crisis. Aisha Shepherd, a member of the Buncombe County Strategic Partnerships Team has been working with local faith leaders to ensure they have all the information and guidance they need to keep congregations engaged and informed during this time. “Faith leaders are trusted voices with deep roots in our community and they are working hard to provide congregants with a sense of community while making sure that they are staying informed on the most current guidance. With such a large faith community in Buncombe County, we knew that it was important for us [BC EOC] to step in and support faith leadership,” says Aisha Shepherd. “Thousands of people rely on their faith leaders for support especially in times of uncertainty and hardship which made it important for us to be in conversation with them so they could better support their congregations during this pandemic.”

During the faith leader meetings, church leadership from across the county share pertinent information about how their congregants and communities have been impacted. This gives them an opportunity to solve problems together and keeps everyone on the same page.

The faith leaders involved in this collaborative response say that they are grateful for the county’s support and input during these times. “In this time of uncertainty, where one must maintain the proper social distancing, although we cannot come together in one place to worship, we can come together in one space for worship, whether by zoom, conference call, or live stream. The place where we worship is important, however of greater importance is the opportunity to worship, for people to hear encouraging messages that activate faith, hope, and love,” says Pastor Hardaway with Rock Hill Baptist Church.

Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Senior Pastor at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, also finds these virtual convenings helpful in continued efforts to support our community through COVID-19 and beyond. Continued conversations with others in our professions help us all to stay the course, saying, “People have found ways to support each other through job loss, health challenges, death, parenting challenges, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. The congregation has also worked diligently to keep our community garden growing and healthy using one person shifts and other social distancing and sanitizing measures. We have distributed several hundreds of pounds of produce to community partners in impacted communities in the last few weeks. The resilience of the community is also showing up in our deepening understanding of why it is important for a white-dominant church like Grace Covenant to dismantle how white supremacy culture shows up in us and in our community. This congregation is not averting their attention from the ways racialized disadvantage is showing itself so clearly in this pandemic. We are learning anew what it means to trust God's healing opportunities.”

Click Here to become a member of the Buncombe County Faith Leaders Group