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Not church as usual

At the beginning of November, a new ministry launched in Suffolk and is making its way to another six surrounding cities.

True Ministries held an introductory event on Nov. 1 to start its seven-city outreach. Suffolk was the first stop before moving on to Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Portsmouth.

“True stands for, teaching, reaching, understanding, and educating God’s people to His love and Word,” said Marcus Smith, pastor of True Ministries. “We are not here to judge. We are here to drive people to God. Bible says love will cast out sin, so we are not going to judge lifestyle whether you are a homosexual or a drug addict. All are welcome.”

At the event, there was preaching, music, free food and giveaways. True Ministries gave away the church’s merchandise and gift cards to local businesses, including Wall Street Cafe and Applebee’s. Smith referenced the Bible verse about God blessing those who give to others.

Even though the idea for True Ministries was born more than five years ago, the pandemic has brought to the surface the need for hope and a different approach to church.

“I want to see this church become a beacon of light,” said Smith. “The church needs to stop the racial divide. Sunday mornings at 11 o’clock is the most segregated time of the week. My goal is to have people no matter their race and creed to be one body under one God, period.”

Smith was contacted by Dr. Perry Austin of WOW Gospel Ministries Inc. about coming to Hampton Roads to start True Ministries.

“The world needs hope in a God that is really there for them right now,” said Austin. “People are losing jobs and are in mental anguish. Suicide and depression rates are ridiculous. We want to make an impact with these churches, and Marcus has an edge when teaching youth.”

The goal is that True Ministries will have satellite locations in each city with a central hub, Smith said. Currently, sites are still being decided. According to Austin, COVID-19 has been their biggest challenge. The ministry hopes to have smaller events in each city to keep with proper guidelines and eventually have a big event for all seven cities to attend.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve the community where we can by feeding people, clothes giveaways,” said Austin. “We just are making sure that we take guidelines into account as we plan these opportunities.”

True Ministry meets at 2 p.m. on Sundays at Rennee Celebration Center, 178 E. Washington St. to allow people to have time in their morning before service.