The city of Lynchburg is home to numerous churches with a wide range of denominations and races. No Walls Inc. seeks unity despite the diversity to combine the people of Lynchburg but has been faced with apathy and indifference in various churches throughout the city.
The No Walls organization is using their theme “building bridges not walls” to break down the racial and denominational barriers through events and outreaches in the community. Stephen C. Weaver founded the organization in 2009 under the name Center for Racial Unity where the beginning was strong but the organization never reached the necessary peak.
“We decided the center for racial unity just sounded not good so we spent a lot of time in the last couple years and settled on the name No Walls,” Weaver said. He further added that the mission of the organization in the local community is to work cross-culturally and cross-denominationally.
“Our mission is to help churches work cross-culturally and cross- denominationally to meet the needs of the local community,” Weaver explained. “So to me, the cross cultural piece is getting the black churches and white churches working together. The cross denominational piece is getting Baptist and Presbyterians and all those working together. Sometimes those are barriers that are difficult to get over and the last part of that is meeting the needs of the local community.”
No Walls works consistently with five churches in the Lynchburg community to reach a variety of people in the city.
Board member Sandra Mitchell details those difficulties as she tries to inform her church of the various events and opportunities offered by the No Walls ministry. Sandra expresses frustration when speaking to the church because she sees many members using her designated time at the pulpit as a time to catch up on social media. “We have a hard time getting a lot of participation out of the member churches. It’s just the way the world is nowadays,” she said “but God is trying to get everyone’s attention.”
According to Mitchell, No Walls has stepped in to assist with Vacation Bible School and “generally helping all around and building us up,” she said. “No walls is exactly what is says. We try to break down barriers between the churches. A lot of them are inner city churches both black and white churches.”
Despite the difficulties Mitchell experiences in her church and the community she still believes this ministry is a blessing for the community. “It’s been a blessing and I think it’s a blessing for the community as well and I don’t know of any other ministry like this, but I think this is what Christians are supposed to do. They are supposed to help each other-that was the second greatest commandment,” Mitchell said.
Weaver added the lack of participation may be a result of their poor marketing skills. “We’re not doing a particular good job with that. It’s been word of mouth and working within the five churches, but we try to do Facebook and emails. We have some community involvement but not as much as we would like but we can still be impactful.” Moises Santana commented on the use of social media from the organization expressing his confusion about not exactly knowing who the organization was. “They follow me on social media, but I don’t actually know why,” Santana said.
The organization impacts the community in numerous ways through different events and opportunities such as Talent and Testimony night (TnT), coat drives, work projects, appliance ministry, book ministry, men’s ministry, and second Saturday picnics.
The events operate through volunteers in the community and the churches with whom they work. Talent and Testimony night has proven time and again to be the most effective tool to reach the community. “This is our chance to get together. My feeling was even if we never reach the neighborhood just getting our churches together would be a big step in the right direction keeping in mind that we are trying to get black churches and white churches working together and knowing one another and just spending time together,” Weaver said.
Another effective outreach led by James Coleman is the appliance ministry. This ministry provides appliances to the community free of charge and free installation through volunteers. “We’re just serving others and putting them before ourselves…so to me it’s helping others and showing them by example. It will further the ministry of reaching people for Christ. God tells us to share what we have with others,” Coleman said.
“Our hope is our meeting together doesn’t just benefit us it’s got to spill over,” Weaver said. “If we are generating love and replicating God’s love it has to spill over and mean something and that has to be an action and that is the kind of action we are trying to do by meeting the needs of the community.”