CORE Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, is the 2020 Hephzibah Legacy Grant recipient.

Established in 2019, the grant “provides a new place to which Hephzibah62:4 partner churches can send vision and work teams, develop long-term supportive relationships and invest in the work of transforming the lives of vulnerable children.” Six churches were considered in the grant process.

Hephzibah 62:4, a subsidiary of The Wesleyan Church, is passionate about helping Wesleyans and churches discover their “unique roles in transforming the lives of vulnerable children.”

Forming the grant program is one of the ways of doing so.

This awarded grant will provide resources to CORE Church as it ministers through City Bridge Inc., the community outreach arm of the church. City Bridge Inc. offers an after-school program that provides resources and assistance in a predominantly African-American neighborhood.

“City Bridge Inc. is centered around being a bridge of resources for a fragile community dealing with education, economic and family inequalities that exists on the westside corridor of Charlotte,” said Rev. Darrell Williams, pastor of CORE Church. His wife, Lakisha, pastors alongside him.

The small church of around 50 is mainly African-American in ethnicity, and the community faces various challenges, according to Williams.

“We serve in a community that is populated with over 70 percent single-parent households,” said Williams. “Household income is way below the average income for the city. We are surrounded by six schools that are Title 1 schools which means 80 percent of the students are on free or reduced lunch as well as having low-grade scores. So, the kids go from a failing elementary school to a failing middle school to a failing high school and are expected to succeed in life.

“We believe that we are divinely positioned to pull resources together to enable us to really stand as an outward-focused body of believers equipped to do life with our neighbors,” said Williams. In the last five years, CORE Church has provided the following services to the community:

  • Career fairs
  • Health fairs
  • Outdoor clothing closets
  • 400+ turkey dinners annually

City Bridge Inc. is providing a learning pod to assist with the online learning process. After the COVID-19 pandemic lessens, City Bridge Inc. plans to be an after-school site for tutoring and reading assistance.

Williams is thrilled that, although CORE Church isn’t considered multicultural, the volunteers who serve with City Bridge Inc. make up a multitude of ethnicities — a true Kingdom Force in action. Church congregants and others in the community don’t just “hear the gospel but live it out in some very practical and tangible ways.”

During the abnormal days of 2020 with the pandemic, Williams said life in the church “has been nothing like we have seen before.”

He said, CORE Church and City Bridge Inc. “spent the time to seek God and ask him for a divine plan on how we are called to make a difference in our ZIP code. In doing this, it has been a new excitement all around, and we know that God’s hand is upon this venture. We can’t wait to share about the family engagement and the relations that will be created with our community because we put ourselves in a position to serve in a time like this.”

Jodi Lewis, director of Hephzibah62:4, believes strongly in the ministry of CORE Church and City Bridge Inc.

“As I have gotten to know Pastor Darrell and Pastor Lakisha over the past year, over and over their church and ministry stands out,” said Lewis. “They have huge hearts for their very segregated city and particularly the neighborhood they serve, one with many vulnerable children. Their small church has been recognized by their district [North Carolina West] for the many ways they care for their community. Their decisions are guided by an intentional foundation of prayer and Holy Spirit leading.”

Lewis noted that the church’s readiness for partnership with other Wesleyan churches is noteworthy.

“They are an African-American church serving a predominantly African-American community, creating opportunities for partnerships with other Wesleyan churches that promote cross-cultural relationships and racial reconciliation.” Lewis is thrilled that Hephzibah62:4 can partner with CORE Church and City Bridge Inc. in this season, when so many in that area have been hit hard through the COVID pandemic.

“Hephzibah62:4 has the privilege to help bolster the ministry of Core Church and City Bridge Inc. through a substantial grant, equipping resources to increase the effectiveness of their staff and volunteers, and connection to additional sustaining Wesleyan church partners.”

More than 20 grants have been awarded so far by Hephzibah62:4, including adoption grants, church plant grants and other church/ministry grants to qualifying Wesleyan individuals and churches. For more information on how you can partner with CORE Church and City Bridge Inc., click here.