CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — “There have been other pandemics, there have been other unrests, there’ve been other injustices,” said Bishop Robert Haley behind his office desk at More Excellent Way Life Church.
The church on the westside of Charleston is staying strong throughout the pandemic.
While their services may be online now, the church is still helping hundreds face to face through their weekly food distributions.
In October the church gave over 2,000 food boxes to Kanawha Valley families.
Haley, a former military man, says he envisioned A More Excellent Way Life Center Church as a beacon in the west side community when he started it.
“The black church has always been the focal point of the black community,” said James Patterson, the executive director of the Partnership of African American Churches.
PAAC most recently set up a COVID-19 testing station at A More Excellent Way’s parking lot, hoping to draw people to get tested for the virus.
“African Americans are twice as likely to catch the disease and then they’re more likely to die from it as well,” said Patterson.
Bishop Haley says he’s hoping to get the COVID-19 vaccine on camera with other area-pastors because trust, he says, is paramount in the black community.
“There is a lot of hesitation on their part to trust anybody because over the years they’ve been betrayed, they’ve been misused, they’ve been mistreated,” he said.
As a pillar of the community, they have a role in building that trust, says Haley, whether that’s through food security, encouraging COVID-19 testing, and now — their latest endeavor — giving residents access to computers.
The church invested $30,000 of their own money for the computer lab on their second floor and have vocational training plans for it.
“Because we know 80% of new job applications are online, so you come here and you can do that, the computer labs are also for our seniors because many of them don’t know how to use a computer and we know the state’s doors are basically shut,” said Haley.
So, while some doors may be closed during the pandemic, theirs are still open.
“We oughtta be able to have the pursuit of happiness,” said Haley.