We had the pleasant opportunity of visiting the New Foundation Church on 7631 Sharon Lakes Rd. Suite E for their first annual Hats and Heels Showcase on December 14, 2012, hosted by Dr. Rico Akiva Wagner. This event attracted women that looked for, and needed camaraderie, and it didn’t matter if they were strangers from the nearby development or valued church members. Whether it was a shoulder to lean on, a biblical lesson, or an all around session of good wholesome fun, they found it in this sanctuary of faith, aspiration, and hope. Women strutted in wearing their most stylish fedoras and high-heeled shoes. Their black and white attires were in coordination with one another; their spirits idled up on high, and roared with solidarity like untamed lioness. For this occasion of sisterhood, bonding and development, the decorations in the room spelled DIVA. Purple high-heeled pumps sat on the wall sconce, and paintings in different shades were set up on nearby easels. The colors that ornamented the church were purple and gold; this was a direct representation of eternal royalty, it was a festivity fit for a queen. The women giggled, teased each other, and communicated their most private stories, allowing the external mask that they wore into the building to drop below their chins. They were able to walk away feeling empowered, more knowledgeable, and not scrutinized because of the information that they shared. Vybe gospel recording artist, and Minister Cassandra O’neal, lead the group of praising women into song from her upcoming CD, “No Matter”, and Incredible.” The guest speakers for this event comprised Pastor Scott McCreary, and Pastor Sammie Wagner. Their objective, and communication was straightforward, “This is the quality that we looked for when we found our virtuous woman”, by separating Boardroom from the “Home-Room”. Each attendee learned the necessities of being the wife, as well as the desired friend. The praise team performed a modern dance technique. Following that performance, Dr. Rico Ackiva Wagner, finished the night with scripture, and encouraging words, ending the evening splendidly.
We caught up with Cassandra O’neal, before show time, and asked her about the views that she has for herself as a member of the church in the near future. She was all too kind in hashing out the sorted details leading up to this event.
CO: “I would definitely attend this church again, especially with this concept in mind, I can do the heels part, but the hat part would be difficult trying to get the hat on this hair.” Cassandra chuckles
lightheartedly while pointing at her areocentric bouffant head of hair. In a more serious tone, she continues to speak, “I’m always looking to get involved with other things, God has given me this gift, and I do not go seek out ways to get paid. Wherever God is leading me that’s where I go, and here I am. Ever since I’ve taken on that mindset, God has been opening doors. I just came out in 2011, and It’s amazing seeing what God has done. There is a lot of new artist that can’t say that they’ve had the opportunity to be featured with James Fortune, Rashon Mitchell, Jessica Reedy, Canton Jones, and that’s just to name a few. I give God the glory, and that’s why I can’t say where I can go, or who can pay. I just go where he leads me, and I end up being blessed above and beyond. I believe that this is something positive in the community. They are giving women the opportunity to come together, and talk about marriage, being single, and stressed. I think that these are the topics that we need to talk about, and I hope that the women can be open and honest, I really hope that they open up and feel free.”
This was just one of the fine fantastic attributes that this congregation had to offer. We were able to come back and visit the church again, and this time we had the opportunity to get Pastor Wagner’s insight on modern day church. We learned his core values, his views on church leaders, and their true intentions in today’s society.
P SW: “I have so many titles, Pastor, Father, and Friend. I’m teaching the message of Jesus Christ, the Love of God, to share with all people God without finding fault in people. To make sure that they know that the God I serve, and the God that wants to be involved in their life, loves them no matter how much they fall short. He wants to help them to get out of falling short. My goal is to expand beyond these walls; I really don’t believe that just having a big church with a bunch of people is really promoting the message. I believe that it is the message that is inside of the people and the people promoting the message. The measure of success is based upon how the people are changed from the message that is heard, and the message that they are sharing with others to bring about that same great change. That’s what my goal is, crossing the denominational barrier lines. I really believe the denominationalism separates; it doesn’t allow us to come together collectively considering that we all serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Why can’t we fellowship or come together collectively? I want to be one of those pioneers so to speak, as I speak it into the lives of the people that I am responsible for shepherding; they go out and do the same thing to cross the denominational barriers to let people know that we serve the Lord, Jesus Christ. We have the love of God in our life, and it’s supposed to be shared with not just the people that have the core belief, but with everything that exist within life form when it comes to a human being. So, when people understand that the Love of God is not for a select people and know its for all people, I believe that people will be more receptive to come to the church, or better yet talk about the Lord publicly and open. My whole motive is to get the message out to everybody to let them know that God loves you, and I am just an ambassador for him to share the message of love so that you can get the right perspective, and not have the wrong perception of what the world deems as religion. I don’t like the word religion because to me religion is like it’s a core value of just doing something only when you are involved with that value. To me when you have a relationship, the relationship is ongoing day by day, and month by month. When you have that, people can tell if what you possess is tangible, and they will be more willing to receive it. We aren’t trying to knock down anyone’s ministry because everyone’s work is different, but it’s still a component on the arm of Jesus Christ. How do we help enhance them, through praying, through participation, with them in fellowship, or better yet, supporting them whether it be financially or even giving them a platform to stand on when your platform is up. That’s how things grow, through word of mouth. I’m glad that we are doing this interview because I want people in Charlotte to not deem me as just another pastor, husband or fatherly figure, but a man that is carrying the message of salvation, and the love of God that he’s willing to share with everyone without finding fault.
That’s our whole goal to get the message out on who I am as an individual. We’ve been in Charlotte for 3 years. I’ve been preaching since 2005, and I actually started my outreach ministries which was Sammie Wagner Ministries. I was called to preach in October 2001, and from October 2001 to August 2005 that was a preparation period that the Lord prepared me to study his word so that I wouldn’t be preaching what I’ve seen others preach without having the relationship. I think that’s what some people do when they get the call of God, instead of sitting down under someone to be taught the word so that they can convey it in line with what it says, verses what they think it says. When they convey it in-line with what the spirit of God reveals, you’ll find yourself staying away from being judgmental, being brash, or getting upset when they don’t receive what you are saying, it will keep you free of what I like to call “emotional attachment”. I believe that accountability is essential in anyone’s ministry. We have some ministries that are out here operating on what I call a “Lone Ranger Mentality”. There is no such thing as a “Lone Ranger Mentality” in ministry because if you don’t have someone to hold you accountable, how can you lead a flock and keep them submissive when you’re not submitted to someone in ministry.
Most babes in Christ or beginner believers don’t really know how to study the bible and they are a little intimidated by it. So what we do here is, I try to make it interactive so that you will be able to grasp it to modern day times. I try to make it simplistic, so that you can know that “It applies to me.” You can tell when someone conveys something “out –of- character” or “not in structure” that they go by, verses somebody conveying something that they actually practice or live. Some ministries teaches what they think you should hear, I only teach what I know the Holy Spirit need his people too be taught. There is a human perspective verses faith. Faith to an unbeliever is blind, and faith to the believer allows an unbeliever to believe.
I think that every Christian ministry should come together sometimes and have a collective service that let us pray for our city leaders because they are the ones that are making decisions affecting not only our city but the world. This is the churches responsibility. It’s not about the size it’s about what we preach with the treasure book (The bible) is what I like to call it. I think we need a day of congregating instead of segregation for the churches, not for them to lose their visions but for all believers to come together in a mixing pot, lay down the titles and show everyone who we really are. More churches are attracted to the titles instead of God’s people. My views on offerings are that it must line up with scripture. God doesn’t want you to give grudgingly, if I have to coerce you, it’s not being a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 and Galatians 6:7, when planting or giving, it must be with a cheerful heart in order to receive. Giving is the highest form of worship, a sacrifice offering given unto the Lord. It has to be scripture balanced, and if it’s not, then it’s from man view and not of God. We should be practicing the message of Grace, and live a productive life. It was never God’s intention to allow people to die, be sick, be in lack, never growing old, or separated us from Him. The scripture say’s “there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.” He loved us from the beginning. It was never his intention for us to go through the hardship and turmoil. But, because man disobeyed in the beginning, He came up with a plan of salvation to bring man back into the proper alignment of the risen state in Jesus Christ verses the fallen state by Adam. When all people come into knowing why God wants us to operate in the risen nature, we will have a long life that satisfies us verses a short life that dissatisfies us.
Tune in next month, as Pastor continues this engaging discussion with UT!!!