Category Archives: Pender County churches

Local filmmaker raising money to capture “God in my fingers”

Artist Ivey Hayes. Photo courtesy of Sheena Vaught.


Sheena A. Vaught, filmmaker for The Ivey Hayes Project. Photo courtesy of Sheena Vaught.

Filmmaker Sheena Vaught has 13 days – just 13 days – to raise the $3,400 she needs to make  a documentary about the life and art of Pender County artist Ivey Hayes.

The 26-year-old graduate of University of North Carolina Wilmington‘s film studies program became interested in Hayes’ artwork as a child. Her mother who is an artist, was a fan of Hayes’ bright paintings of black jazz artists, dancers and scenes of rural Pender County farm life.

“To be young and for him to entrust me with leaving his legacy on film was major. I want to do this right,” Vaught said, adding that she’s started interview for her film around the state.

Her working title is “The Ivey Hayes Project: God in my fingers,” in reference to the artist’s belief that God’s spirit inspires his paintings.

“Hayes has paintings that celebrate, in my opinion, jazz and gospel and all around black American culture in our community,” she said in her introductory video on

For her fundraising, she went to, an all-or-nothing funding site for artistic projects where “a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands.”

“His relationship with God reminds me of my relationship with God,” Vaught added. “I really do think God has led me to Mr. Hayes and this project. The fact that he can paint the way that he does, it’s a miracle.”

Hayes has a degenerative rheumatoid arthritis which has left him with just three bones in his fingers.

For Hayes, doing a documentary of his work as his career closes is about leaving a legacy.

“I want to leave to the next generation work that they can see physically, work that will hopefully inspire them and enlighten them to say, ‘Hey man, I really enjoy this,'” he said in Vaught’s introductory video. “And then they can ask the question what can I do to improve on what now is left before them so they can become better equipped to become better artistic people.”

Amanda Greene: 910-520-3958 or on Twitter @WilmFAVS

‘Occult’ filming picks spooky spots in the Cape Fear area

By Cassie Foss
Copyright 2012
Reprinted with permission

Maybe it’s the rural setting or the quaint, historical chapel at Shelter Neck’s Universalist Unitarian Camp, but something screams “The Occult” in Burgaw.

The local production, which kicked off filming in the region the week of March 20, has chosen the camp and the surrounding area as the setting of the fictional village of New Bethlehem, a devout community kept under the tight reins of the town’s vigilant elders, according to Blaise Noto, a publicist for the film.

But the production wasn’t satisfied with just being in the country.

On Wednesday, film crews began to spread dirt over about a quarter-mile stretch of Croomsbridge Road near the camp.

The road is expected to be closed near 3747 Croomsbridge until April 14, according to a N.C. Department of Transportation news release.

Although the horror thriller isn’t a period piece, the dirt is designed to give the area a more “countrified” feel, Noto said.

The story follows six girls who are born on the same day to different mothers.

On the eve of their 18th birthdays, the girls begin to mysteriously disappear and are feared dead.

The elders of the village believe the girls’ disappearances are linked to an old prophecy that foretells the coming of the devil’s daughter via the villagers.

Terror overtakes the community, leading villagers to wonder if a serial killer is at work or if the prophecy has come true.

The film, an LD Entertainment Production directed by Christian Christiansen (“The Roommate”) and written by Karl Mueller, stars Rufus Sewell (“The Illusionist”) and Alycia Debnam-Carey.

Heche has worked in the area before. She was cast in last year’s locally filmed “Arthur Newman, Golf Pro” and she had a small role in the 1997’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

Sewell stars in the upcoming “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”

Other recent cast additions include Colm Meaney (“Law Abiding

Colm J. Meaney, an Irish actor widely known fo...

Colm J. Meaney, an Irish actor widely known for playing Miles O'Brien in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, sits as he speaks into a microphone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Citizen”), Jennifer Carpenter (“Dexter”) and Cary native singer/songwriter Katie Garfield, who will play Abby, one of the village’s young women.

Burgaw isn’t the only spooky spot cast members will visit.

Location scouts chose Marilyn Meares’ Chestnut Street bungalow in Wilmington as the setting of at least one scene in the film.

The conservation consultant said she came home from work recently to find a note from production scouts taped to her front door.

Scouts may have chosen her bungalow, built in 1923, because of its location in an established neighborhood and its lush, leafy vegetation, Meares said.

They also needed a long hallway.

“I think the main thing they needed was a hallway for people to run through and hide, and I’ve got a long one that goes to my bedroom,” she said. “It just kind of came together.”

The film is expected to shoot at the home Monday through Thursday.

Crews also filmed scenes this month at a wooded area at Autumn Hall Lake near Eastwood Road.

Filming is expected to continue through the end of April, Noto said.

Cassie Foss: 343-2365
On Twitter: @WilmOnFilm

BRIEF: Local radio station to host pro-marriage amendment speakers Friday

Supporters of the proposed North Carolina constitutional marriage amendment will speak out on a local morning radio talk show on Friday. The amendment is up for a vote on May 8.

Vote for Marriage NC, a Raleigh-based group promoting the amendment, sent emails to its supporters Thursday with talking points encouraging area residents to call in to Wilmington’s The Big Talker FM with Chad Adams radio program Friday morning. The conservative show at 93.7 FM is featuring arguments about the amendment 6-10 a.m. Friday morning.

Details: 910-332-6390 or 1-800-760-8190.

– Amanda Greene

A prison chapel that started with a plow – Pender Correctional breaks ground on its new chapel

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Since the future prison chapel at Pender Correctional Institution in Burgaw began as a community effort, with more than 100 local churches and individuals giving money, its groundbreaking today (March 14) was no different.

“At most groundbreakings, you see folks with their shiny silver or gold shovels turning a little bit of dirt,” said the prison’s contract Chaplain Jimmy Joseph. “But we have a lot of dirt to move today so you all get to be the mules.”

In the prison yard, about 30 corrections officials, leaders with N.C. Baptist Men, the Burgaw mayor and community members grabbed a long thick rope attached to an old farm plow with Joseph at the helm.

“And pull,” the chaplain shouted. Tug-of-war-style, attendees in coats, ties and skirts leaned back on their rope section, pulling that plow and breaking ground on the 4,200 square foot facility. The community has been planning and fundraising for this day for the last six years.

In his speech chronicling the long road to building the chapel, retired Chaplain James Spiritosanto said: “It took King Solomon 46 years to build the Temple, and I’m happy to report, we are ahead of schedule.”

The need for a chapel became apparent to the prison’s chaplains over years of trying to schedule the hundreds of inmates who wanted to participate in the prison’s faith curriculum into a classroom that will only fit 30 at a time.

The new building’s auditorium will seat 200. There are 768 inmates in the prison, Joseph said.

The chapel will also have two classrooms, offices for the chaplaincy staff, restrooms and storage space. A large stained glass window in the gable of the auditorium will capture eastern light in the mornings. The building will be a wood-framed structure with brick veneer to match the other buildings in the prison.

With the help of volunteer labor from N.C. Baptist Men, Joseph hopes to be cutting a grand opening ribbon on the chapel in six months. Pender’s chapel project is the first construction task inside a prison for the N.C. Baptist Men.

“We found it to be a worthy project. How could we say no?” said Gaylon Moss, coordinator of disaster relief and volunteerism for the group.

This project was also a first for the North Carolina Department of Corrections. Usually, the prison system takes bids from licensed contractors to complete prison building projects. But the majority of labor on this project will be volunteers, along with area contractors who are overseeing the construction.

His voice shaking with emotion, the project’s contractor Billy Soots told attendees, “I hope this project is a light to this community, to this campus and enriches the kingdom of God.”

Pender prison to break ground on its chapel Wednesday

Wilmington Faith and Values

It’s been six years of fundraising with donations coming from 74 area churches and 88 people in Southeastern North Carolina. But this week Pender Correctional Institution in Burgaw will break ground on its freestanding chapel.

PCI will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the 4,200 square foot facility at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Only invited guests can attend.

With labor donated from N.C. Baptist Men, the Pender County prison hopes to complete its new chapel in six months.

For many years, the space used as the chapel in the prison was a 20 foot by 24 foot classroom space, the walls lined with bookshelves full of holy texts and reference material for different faiths.

In the North Carolina prison system, privately-funded chapels are fairly rare. According to N.C. prison system records, as of 2010, out of the state’s 70 prisons with chapels, only nine were built with private money.

The new building’s auditorium will seat 200, where the former room seated 30. There are 768 inmates in the prison, said Pender Correctional Chaplain Jimmy Joseph.

The chapel will also have two classrooms, offices for the chaplaincy staff, restrooms and storage space. A large stained glass window in the gable of the auditorium will capture eastern light in the mornings, “creating a worshipful atmosphere in the building,” Joseph wrote in an email. The building will be a wood framed structure with brick veneer to match the other buildings in the prison.

Stay tuned for more on this story. Wilmington Faith and Values reporters will attend the ceremony on Wednesday.

Large Wilmington home repair ministry needs financial assistance

Chicago teen volunteers take a water break at a house in downtown Wilmington at last year's Reach the Beach. Photo courtesy Cape Fear Volunteer Center.

Wilmington Faith and Values

Photos of last year’s Reach the Beach in Wilmington show high school students from across the country painting houses, wielding saws, building wheelchair ramps and hugging elderly homeowners who asked for their help.

Cape Fear Volunteer Center organizes the Christian week-long event where about 550 teens come to the Wilmington area to repair homes for the poor in our area for free. This year’s event, set for July, hopes to renovate 70-80 homes. The deadline for low income residents to apply to be one of those houses is March 1.

But Center president Annie Anthony says the fundraising and grant–writing for the $20,000 to fund this year’s Reach the Beach has barely trickled in. People and churches just aren’t giving to the event as they have in past years, she said. China Grove, N.C., hosts the only other GroupCares home repair camp in the state, and Wilmington’s camp has grown to one of the largest in the nation, Anthony said.

“2010, not all the money came in, so we just did fewer and less expensive projects. But this year, with the economic downturn, it has been much, much harder,” she said. “I don’t know how God’s gonna come through, but I know he will.”

The students will still come with their chaperones, but in order to allow

Reach the Beach volunteers pose with one of the residents they helped last year. Photo courtesy CFVC.

them to do the most work, Anthony’s organization has to raise the money for the raw materials.

To get the students here, the center partners with GroupCares, the nonprofit arm of the national Christian publishing house, Group Publishing. They help publicize the home repair mission trip, Anthony said. Group Publishing prints Sunday school, vacation Bible school, youth ministry and youth conference materials.

One Reach the Beach group carries lumber to a repair site last year. Photo courtesy of CFVC.

The week of July 22-28 this year, teens will come to Wilmington in buses, on planes, in cars and carrying every manner of home repair accessory. Last year, a large bus of Chicago high school students came for the week. They stay at Ashley High School, the boys on one floor and the girls on another.

Cape Fear Volunteer Center estimates the group of students and adults bring in about $500,000 to the area while they’re here because of tourism, the increased value to homes after the repairs and the value of volunteer hours.

Anthony also said there are free ways to contribute to Reach the Beach, including volunteering and donating construction tools and ladders.

Reach the Beach students this year also will arrive with loads of canned goods, which they collect to donate to local charity, House of Mercy Ministries.

“It’s amazing. They pile the food at the foot of a cross and build a human chain and pass it down to load into the ministry’s vans,” Anthony added.

Details: or 910-392-8180.

Start of Lent is next week! Send your Ash Wednesday services to WilmingtonFAVS

Feb. 22, next Wednesday, is Ash Wednesday.

English: Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Ch...

Ashes imposed on a woman's forehead for Ash Wednesday. Image via Wikipedia

It’s the beginning of the hallowed introspective season of Lent for Christians.

If your church is having a special event that day or has creative services planned throughout Lent, we’d like to know about it.

Just email your Ash Wednesday and Lenten services to

We’ll keep a running file for people looking for a place to worship during Lent.

– Amanda Greene

Sex is awesome, speaker says. Just wait to do it until you’re married.

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Wilmington Faith and Values

Nothing says Happy Valentine’s Day like a talk about God and sexually transmitted diseases.

But more than 1,600 teens and their parents from Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover counties traveled to the Wilmington Convention Center on Sunday night (Feb. 12) to learn about the dangers of sex outside of marriage.

The Christian teen rally, Sex Gone Wild: Passion for Purity In a World Out of Control, brought church vans full of teens from Riegelwood, Southport, Hampstead and all over the Wilmington area.  Christian rock bands warmed up the crowd before national Christian speaker and abstinence advocate Pam Stenzel took the stage.

Stenzel, who travels the nation speaking to middle- and high school students, spoke to her Sunday night crowd a little differently than she does in schools.

“I’m going to say something right now that I can’t say in middle schools,” she said, with a chuckle. “Students, God created sex, and it’s awesome! But he created it with a boundary: marriage.”

Stenzel talked about the physical effects of having STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea or genital warts.

The students listened, intently, clapping in support when Stenzel confessed that she was a child of rape. Her mother was 15 years old when she decided to put Stenzel up for adoption, she said.

Some students talked amongst themselves about what they were learning. As Stenzel spoke about women becoming sterile after having multiple STDs, one female teen leaned over to her friends to ask: “Cervix? What’s a cervix?”

A male friend nearby answered: “It’s in your stomach area, I think.”

How does your congregation share its space with the community?

By Contributor Elizabeth Terry

Due to shrinking congregation size and other pressing issues, places of worship around the country currently have underutilized buildings and grounds and diminishing financial resources. One emerging strategy is to encourage congregations to explore sharing their facilities.

Two institutions with missions and resources to assist congregations to re-imagine their facilities as vibrant shared spaces are Partners for Sacred Places with their new initiative Arts in Sacred Places and The Rooftops Project of New York Law School.

The Rooftops Project has published several reports and essays concerning leases and shared space agreements. They also convene an annual conference for nonprofits, including congregations, helping them to become more knowledgeable about their options and opportunities for sharing their space with other nonprofits.

Inis Nua Theatre Company's production of Dublin by Lamplight, staged at Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia, PA. Photo courtesy of Sacred Places.

Partners for Sacred Places’ new national initiative, Arts in Sacred Places, will foster collaborations and partnerships between congregations and arts and cultural organizations. The program is focused on space availability and usability as well as audiences for the arts organizations and community supporters and new potential members for the sacred places. Programs and services will include training, consulting, technical assistance, and “match-making” or helping match a congregation with an arts group that’s right for their space.  Click here for stories of the program’s success so far.

How is your congregation sharing your sacred place of worship with your community?

Pro-abstinence “Sex Gone Wild” teen rally coming to Wilmington Convention Center

Passion for Purity flier, courtesy Pamela Ward.

Wilmington Faith and Values

Pamela Ward said she didn’t mean to offend anyone.

But with a faith-based event titled “Sex Gone Wild: Passion for Purity in a World Out of Control,” heads are bound to turn.

The event at 6-8 p.m. Sunday Feb. 12 at the Wilmington Convention Center is meant to be a Christian teen rally about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and the option of abstinence. The night will include Christian rock bands, step team performances, techno-giveaways and national abstinence advocate and author Pam Stenzel as the keynote speaker. Ward’s church, Broken Bread Fellowship in Castle Hayne, is sponsoring the free event.

Michelle Obama is talking about obesity as an issue, but one of the biggest threats to our teens today are STDs. Some are killing or maiming them for life,” Ward said. “It’s really because of our culture and lack of morals and breakdown of the foundation of the Bible as our sense of a standard. Kids are confused. They have nothing to stand on!”

The Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2009, “nearly half of the 19 million new STDs each year are among young people aged 15–24 years old.” According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services2010 HIV/STD Surveillance Report, the most recent on record, the number of chlamydia cases was 42,167.

Among female chlamydia reports in 2010, the age groups with the

Sexually transmitted disease

A vintage poster about STDs. Image via Wikipedia

highest rates of the disease were 20-24-year-olds (4,204.3 per 100,000) and 15-19 year olds (4,076.8 per 100,000).

The report stated there were 14,153 gonorrhea cases in 2010.

Ward is speaking from a personal place.

“My stance is I was a victim of an STD, and I know the effects and the devastation of it. My daughter had an STD and thought she couldn’t have children,” she added. “My prayer is for the Holy Ghost to come into these children, and a new generation will have a voice and will make a stand.”