CityView March 2024

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Get your tickets and join us as Cape Fear Valley Health presents CITYVIEW MEDIA’S FOURTH ANNUAL LADIES NIGHT OUT!

The women of Fayetteville will gather for an evening of shopping, eating, drinking, dancing and entertainment at the Carolina Barn at McCormick Farms.



Join us as Cape Fear Valley Health presents CityView Media’s fourth annual Ladies Night Out April 18 at the Carolina Barn at McCormick Farms. You and your besties are invited for a fun evening of food, wine and entertainment. We’ll have vendors for shopping, music, a silent auction and demonstrations.


• Entry into the event

• Food samplings from local eateries

• Two drink tickets

• One raffle ticket into our prize drawing

• Early bird pricing ends March 15




Fayetteville-born Lee Vasi’s music is inspired by her faith

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MARCH 2024

On the cover:

From performing on the Cape Fear Regional Theatre stage as a 7-year-old to becoming a national chart success, Fayetteville-native Lee Vasi’s story is filled with faith, vulnerability, and parents who supported their children with sacrifice and prayer. It’s a story, at least through one perspective, of three significant moments, that changed Vasi’s life and directed her to where she is today. Photo by Tony Wooten.


Plugging in and praising Fayetteville’s religious groups and congregations adapt to an increasingly technological and connected world.


Sacred spaces with divine designs

A look into Cumberland County's spectacular places of prayer, blending artistry and devotion.


Living in Islamic faith

‘It’s principled and timeless’: Fayetteville’s Muslim community honors God in everything they do.

2 March 2024 COLUMNS Editor’s Take: Bill Horner III 5 Someday You’ll Thank Me: Mary Zahran 6 Family Matters: Claire Mullen 8 The To-Do List: Your go-to spot for local events 42 Seen @ the Scene: A look at who was out and about 44
20 Women in Business Profiles 10 28

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4 March 2024 CityView is published 12 times annually by CityView Media, LLC. Mailing Address: 2919 Breezewood Ave., Ste 300, Fayetteville, NC 28303 Phone: 910.423.6500 | Fax: 910.423.0096 Postage paid at Fayetteville, NC No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from CityView Media, LLC. Publication of an advertisement in CityView does not constitute an endorsement of the product or service by CityView or CityView Media, LLC. PUBLISHER
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A case for deconstruction

We celebrate faith in this month’s edition of CityView Magazine with what we hope (and hope is elemental to faith, right?) is a diverse collection of stories on the subject you’ll enjoy and learn from.

Faith is an experiential thing, easy to define but difficult to describe. In thinking about and exploring faith on my own over the years, and with others, my sense is this: some people truly own their faith. Others, in a manner of speaking, have only leased or borrowed it. Probe the notion of faith deeply enough and you invariably encounter tenuous threads among practitioners.

But that makes faith what it is — a belief, an assurance, or a conviction of something not necessarily tangibly seen.

I’ve always been intrigued by French philosopher Blaise Pascal’s observation related to the subject. He recognized both faith’s frailty and its significance when he postulated thusly: “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof, but on the basis of what they find attractive.”

That’s a great case for deconstructing your faith. Pascal’s logical inference is that we should examine our personal faith closely. Not to aimlessly cast doubt upon it, necessarily, but to thoughtfully consider: How did I arrive at my beliefs? What delivered me here?

Why do the beliefs I hold dearly appeal to me?

Those questions, Pascal would say, are worth asking. Deconstruction doesn’t require renunciation, but there’s an argument to be made that seeking the elusive proof Pascal nodded toward does create a more confident belief in the end.

I’ve always envied the tinkerers who found pleasure in taking something apart — electronics, engines, other machinery — to see how things really work. Proper deconstruction necessitates taking apart and then rebuilding. (So what if sometimes there are parts left over, and the thing still works?)

A slightly more modern philosopher made an observation about certainty that’s also worth considering. “It’s not what we don’t know that gets us in trouble,” Mark Twain famously said. “It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”

A friend recently shared a simple story with me about assumptions — and things that “ain’t so” — and examinations that was instructive.

A father and daughter who, while out walking, came upon a vendor with an apple cart. The young girl asked her father to buy her an apple. He didn’t have much money, but it was just enough to purchase two pieces of the shiny red fruit.

He handed them both to his daughter. He asked if she’d share one with him. Upon hearing this, the girl eyed him, then quickly took a bite from the apple in her left hand. And before her father could speak, she laughed and took a bite from the apple in her right.

The bewildered father stood there wondering why his daughter acted in such a selfish, greedy way. His smile disappeared, thinking he’d not succeeded in teaching — or she’d failed to learn — the lessons he’d attempted to impart. He was crestfallen with disappointment, certain that he’d failed as a father.

Suddenly, the girl stretched out one hand and handed her father one of the apples.

“Here,” she said, smiling up at him. “Take this one. It’s the juiciest and the sweetest.”

His faith was immediately restored. Always a good practice to ponder the assumptions we hold dear. | 5
Bill Horner III is the executive editor of CityView. Contact him at Bill

Love thy neighbor

My husband and I have lived in the same house for more than 31 years. During this time, we have had many wonderful neighbors. Kate, Sarah and Anders, Deborah and Larry, Denise and William, Julie and Christian, and Teddy and Emily have always offered us their friendship and willingness to help whenever we needed them.

We have another good neighbor whose presence has made a difference in our lives. This neighbor is not a person; it is a church. We live in a house across the street from Snyder Memorial Baptist Church that used to be the church rectory.

In the years since we moved in, Snyder has undergone many changes. Its campus is much larger than it was in 1993, and it has a columbarium that was built several years ago. In addition to admiring its physical beauty, particularly its beautiful lawn and flowers, I often look at this building and see the chapters of my own life.

My memories of Snyder go all the way back to the early 1980s when our daughter Anne went to preschool there. She loved her time with her classmates and her teachers, one of whom was Martha Lou Smith, one of the friendliest people I have ever met. She greeted children and parents alike each morning with a big smile and the promise of a great day. At Christmas, Anne’s present to us was an ornament with her picture. Forty years later, it is still one of the first ornaments I put on our tree.

I remember sitting on the front steps of our house with our daughter Kathleen and watching a carriage pass by with a bride and groom on their way to their reception after their wedding at Snyder. The bride was radiant in her gown and veil, the groom was grinning from ear to ear, and the horses were trotting gracefully down the street in their elegant attire. It was a sight I will always remember.

Many years later, I stood in my front yard, not to watch a carriage pass by, but to watch several women from Snyder pass out potted plants to people in our neighborhood. They were also handing out other gifts that were too small for me to see. It was April 2020, when almost everything was closed down because of the Covid-19 pandemic. As two of the women approached me, I noticed that the small gifts were rolls of toilet paper. Considering how difficult it was sometimes to find toilet paper in stores, these were welcome gifts. As the women gave me my plant and my roll of toilet paper, I thanked them and complimented them on their genius for selecting just the right present. I think the Lord really does work in mysterious ways.

Most of my memories of Snyder are shaped by what I refer to as ordinary days. My husband and I walk by the church frequently, and

one of the things we enjoy most is watching the little children on the playground. I especially like to watch them on winter days as they try to run around and climb on bars when they are slowed down by heavy coats and thick gloves. Somehow, they manage to look pitiful and comical simultaneously.

These moments take us back to our own years as young parents of little girls. These moments also elicit the poignant knowledge we now have of just how quickly children grow up.

There is much to appreciate in this edifice. The chimes ring on the hour, giving us a sense of order and continuity. At Christmas, the neighborhood is filled with the sound of carols inviting us to celebrate the birth of Jesus. At Easter, we hear hymns that proclaim the resurrection of Christ.

One of the things I like most about the church is the steeple. It is majestic in the daytime, especially when a hawk perches on the top and remains there, surveying its surroundings.

As the sun sets, the steeple takes on an ethereal elegance with the pink and orange backdrop often visible as the sky darkens. At night, the steeple becomes something more than a thing of beauty.

When I look at it as the lights shine on it, I see a structure that signifies strength, joy, serenity, and steadfastness. Who wouldn’t want a neighbor like that?

6 March 2024
Mary Zahran, who has managed not to kill the plants she has received from Snyder, can be reached at
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Church without the itch

When it comes to the weekly Sundaymorning-gettingready-for-church experience, my children really don’t know how good they have it. If they utter so much as a single deep sigh over having to turn off their cartoons to go to their rooms, get dressed, and fix their hair, I will threaten to tell them, once again, what church attire was like “back in my day.”

I’ve learned that that’s a surefire way to get them to spring from the couch and bound upstairs to find their comb and brush without another word of resistance.

You see, lucky for my son and daughter, we are raising them in a church family that truly embraces the “come as you are” approach to their services. On any given day, attendees come to our church clad in everything from holey blue jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers to the traditional “Sunday best”.

If you peruse the congregation, you’ll see tattooed bikers in their leather Harley jackets with their hands raised in worship, just like the folks sitting beside them who dressed up in their pearls and neckties. From a global perspective, I love that not one single person would ever be made to feel excluded because they are not dressed nicely enough.

From a selfish standpoint, I love that for me, preparing for Sunday service does not have to involve starching little khaki pants and shirts with buttons, both of which have the power to somehow launch a full-blown itch attack on my 7-year-old son before they even touch his body. I don’t have to engage in World War III with my tween daughter over fancy shoes that will undoubtedly give her blisters but are the only ones that match her pretty dress.

When I think about my family’s more casual approach to church attire, I can’t help but reflect on the Sunday get-ups of my childhood, which most certainly never included distressed denim. First, there was the selection of the church clothes which was a real experience in and of itself.

In the days before online shopping, my mother and grandmother would pile my three younger siblings and me into the car to head out for a Saturday of shopping in places that, to a young child, felt a little too much like exactly the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks place we were all trying to avoid with all this church-going.

Hours upon hours of enduring the trying on and pulling off of dresses with embarrassingly poofy sleeves, big satin sashes that contrary to what Maria von Trapp sang, were most definitely not one of my favorite things, stiff crinoline linings that might as well have been made of chicken wire, and a million pearl buttons down the back that eliminated the option of comfortably leaning back on the wooden church pew. And the dresses were just the beginning.

Next would come an onslaught of torturous legwear: thin (and yes, itchy … why did everything have to be itchy?) lace tights for springtime that were not optional, even if your knees were skinned raw from a roller skating crash, impossibly thick cableknit wool stockings in the winter that made your underwear bunch and your feet sweat (you knew you’d better not tear those tights or else), and three-tier ruffled silk-trimmed cuffed socks for the summer months that made your ankles appear as though they were sprouting white carnations.

And then the shoes. Oh! The horrible, oppressive church shoes. Patent leather Mary

Janes that perpetually felt too small or too big; never just right, still haunt my nightmares.

As if all of that were not enough, there were various other accoutrements to which we were subjected: slips (does anyone wear slips anymore?); white eyelet bloomers (because even our undergarments had to be fancy on Sunday); hairbows so enormous that our songs and prayers weren’t the only things that reached heavenward on Sunday morning; and miniature purses that matched our dresses and were filled with nothing but enough candy and chewing gum to keep us quiet through the service. (I’m guessing my mom allowed this only because she figured four mouths full of Juicy Fruit couldn’t desperately whisper “I’m so itchy!” in her ear while she tried to focus on the scripture.)

Thirty-some years later, I wonder if, as my faithful mother sat in that sanctuary every Sunday and prayed for her loved ones and for her community, she also worked in a little self-centered prayer of repentance for the thoughts that surely ran through her mind when she looked down the pew and noticed a hole in Claire’s lace tights, a black scuff on Caroline’s brand-new white Easter shoes, a run in Susanna’s satin sash, or a red Kool-Aid stain on baby Clay’s sailor suit.

Needless to say, I am grateful that these days, the four of us can file into 9:30 a.m. service at 9:35 in a slept-through-ouralarms-inspired combination of messy buns, cowlicks, hooded sweatshirts, Walmart flannels, slip-on Crocs, and Nikes, and not one single person will look at us sideways. As a matter of fact, they’ll smile and scoot over on their row to make room. We are welcomed, just as we are.

And as my son loves to remind me in the rare instances that I do suggest he forego ratty high-tops for his nice, new loafers … Jesus wore sandals.

Claire Mullen can be reached at clairejlmullen

8 March 2024
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Christian R&B star is born

Fayetteville-born singer Lee Vasi’s music was inspired by her journey with her faith

When Lee Vasi stepped into the audition room of American Idol in 2018, she stood across from three music superstars: pop singer Katy Perry, country artist Luke Bryan, and R&B icon Lionel Richie.

Vasi — real name Halle Sullivan-Vargas — stated that she was “a huge fan of all” the judges and that “Zoom,” a 1977 tune from Richie’s group The Commodores, was her favorite song to sing with her father Dwight. Richie broke out in the opening words to “Zoom” and Vasi joined in.

Captured on camera for national television audiences, Vasi had a once-in-a-lifetime moment. It’s not often someone gets to sing alongside an artist they grew up loving.

She passed the audition and made it to Hollywood, but was cut before the final 24 round of that season of the show. Instead of being disappointed, though, Vasi, a Fayetteville native with Puerto Rican-Dominican and African American heritage, views that experience as part of her story.

“I really try to not have expectations and just go where I feel I’m being led by God,” Vasi says. “I feel like it ended the way it was supposed to end. I learned a lot from it. So I don’t have any kind of negative feelings around how it ended.”

Six years later, Vasi is making her own mark, independent of a television show or a famous artist, in the music industry. Her song “Teach Me” reached No. 2 on the Billboard Gospel Digital Song Sales chart and No. 21 on the Hot Gospel Songs list for the week of Jan. 27, 2024.

Going from performing on the Cape Fear Regional Theatre stage as a 7-year-old to national chart success is a story filled with faith, vulnerability, and parents who supported their children with sacrifice and prayer. It’s a story, at least through one perspective, of three significant moments, three occurrences that changed Vasi’s life and directed her to where she is today.

Cumberland to Broadway to Hollywood to Atlanta to Cumberland

Vasi’s parents Dwight Sullivan and Maureen Vargas-Sullivan say they sang with their children very early on. By the time Vasi’s older brother Zach Vargas-Sullivan was 2 years old, Maureen says, he would be singing the Lord’s Prayer before going to bed.

Vasi says she started performing on stage at age 7 at CFRT, simply following in Zach’s footsteps. She got her first big break at age 8 when attending a casting call alongside her brother for the Broadway production of “The Lion King.”

10 March 2024
Christian R&B singer Lee Vasi works her look in downtown Atlanta near the Fox Theater on Feb. 19.

What Maureen thought, in Vasi’s words, was a trip to “come to Atlanta and do a little shopping” alongside the auditions, turned into a long day of sitting in the heat while 200-plus girls auditioned for the role of Young Nala. They never did go shopping — Vasi kept getting called back for more auditions. She landed the role and moved to New York City to star on the Broadway stage at 9 years old.

What was supposed to be a six-month deal turned into a year and a half of Vasi living in New York City with her mother, performing on one of the grandest stages in all of entertainment. It was during that time that she began tinkering with songwriting, penning her first tune at 10 years old. As she grew older, she made the decision to focus on music, traveling over the ensuing decade between Atlanta, New York City, and Fayetteville. She attended the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where she says she got a well-rounded experience in music.

Through that time, Vasi began to develop the discipline needed to be in entertainment, with the support of her parents.

"My parents were very, very supportive," she says. "It was clear that ... nothing could be impacted by us pursuing it. It taught me a lot of discipline around a lot of different areas of my life."

Dwight says there was certainly some apprehension about Vasi pursuing a career in entertainment, but that didn’t prevent him and Maureen from throwing their support behind their daughter.

“I believe in people pursuing their dreams,” he says. “I don’t think that any dream is too big. If God put it in you to pursue it, go after it. Chase it. The only way you lose is by not chasing it. It happens to other people. Why not you? Why can’t you be that person?”

Maureen adds, “She’s been very diligent in chasing her dream and perfecting and working hard.”

After the American Idol experience, Vasi moved to Atlanta, where she says she didn’t know anyone. She tried to find opportunities in the mainstream/secular music space but was struggling, especially when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“The pandemic really took a hard, hard effect on me and my mental health,” Vasi says. “I was really struggling to be balanced

through all this, and understanding the differences and nuances between being a child in entertainment and a young adult in entertainment. I definitely got lost for a second.”

So she came home, back to Fayetteville, in 2021.

A time to ‘recalibrate’

At that time, Vasi took a break from music.

“At that point, so many things in my life were feeling so forced, and I really started to doubt whether this was something God wanted me to be doing,” she says.

That break was a fairly clean one. Vasi says she didn’t even listen to music or sing in the shower. But it was during that time she did something that would contribute directly to her future in music.

“It was during that time when I got really strong in my faith journey and surrendered to the Lord,” she says.

She planned to move back to Atlanta, and the night before she departed last year, she says she heard God speak to her.

“I said to God, ‘What do you need from me?’,” Vasi says. “I heard him so loudly say to me, ‘Music.’ I can never say I’ve heard the voice of the Lord so clearly before that it really moved me.”

The first song she released out of this new approach was “My Bad” on Sept. 22, 2023.

The song, utilizing the R&B style of Vasi’s early inspirations like Ne-Yo and Mariah Carey, focuses on Vasi exploring her own humanity and how she wants to be better and be what God needs her to be. The song is quickly approaching 350,000 streams on Spotify.

“The song is really about repentance and the conversational way that I talk to God,” Vasi says. “A large point of what I’m focused on is really being a reflection of how relational it is to be a Christian. Just be honest with Him, be vulnerable with Him. That’s what this music is coming from. My bad, I wanna start over.”

Vasi adds that “My Bad” partially came out of her journey in the previous years.

“God knows that I’m a little bit dramatic, so God allows me to have my big wake-up calls in my relationship with Him,” she says. “I had a lot of big wake-up calls that were happening during the pandemic. I wanted to live a completely different life. My bad, let’s just start over.”

Maureen and Dwight both express pride in Vasi’s decision to sing faith-based music.

“I’m pleased that she’s going with the Christian R&B,” Dwight says. “ ... We need uplifting music, lyrics that build people rather than tear them down. It’s so beautiful to know that she’s got that foundation and get back to it.” | 11
Vasi (left) and her manager Dre Hunter pose on Peachtree Street Northeast in Atlanta across from Fox Theatre.

her boyfriend. The song — written in the form of a prayer to God like “My Bad” and her other single, “Presence” — shows Vasi asking God to teach her how to love her partner.

“It came from a really real place,” Vasi says. “I was in a moment of just really not understanding the way that he thinks. I think a lot of times in our relationships we can be really selfish. I just literally sat down and wrote, ‘Lord, I know I’m not perfect and neither is this man you sent me.’”

That’s what Dwight wants for his daughter too.

“‘Your will be done’ for what’s going on with Lee,” he says. “I want her to have what [God] has in store for her. That’s my expectation for her.”

Then, Lee Vasi’s career hit another high point. One, Vasi says, that she was not anticipating at all.

Being teachable

On Jan. 6 this year, Vasi dropped her second teaser for a new song, “Teach Me,” on her social media platforms. It’s a video of her singing the song in front of a city skyline backdrop. It’s not extravagant or overproduced. Just a simple video.

As of mid-February, that video has more than 1 million views and over 147,000 likes on TikTok and more than 320,000 likes on Instagram. It has now hit Billboard music charts and has more than 375,000 streams on Spotify. It has also been featured on the Apple Music-curated playlists “Sunday Soul” and “Risers,” the Christian music playlist, alongside songs from notable Christian and gospel artists like Tauren Wells, Lecrae, Kirk Franklin, CeCe Winans, and Chris Tomlin.

When the song first started getting big, the whole family was excited.

“It was nuts,” Dwight says, with Maureen adding, “Our family group text was blowing up.”

“Teach Me” isn’t necessarily your typical Christian song, gospel song, or song about romantic relationships. Vasi says she wrote it out of a personal place she’s currently in with

While she certainly was surprised by the song’s performance on the charts, it wasn’t just happenstance. Vasi, who says she wasn’t big on social media until recently, has been building her online presence to promote her music. She’s been “very intentional,” she says, in what she posts on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Those platforms have translated to thousands hearing her songs and sharing their reactions.

“That’s the coolest part of all of this; I’m seeing God working through this song that was just about me and my relationship,” Vasi says. “I could not have even imagined the way this was going to impact people.”

Dwight says the song is “very mature and very real,” and a message he says anyone in a relationship could benefit from hearing and taking to heart.

“It was like a letter written so that no matter what age you are, if you’re in a relationship and you’re going through (hard times) with your spouse or significant other, that before you get to that discussion, that you talk to God, so that you can project what you need to project to keep that relationship,” he says. “I think it’s something that everyone who has someone that they love can benefit from.”

Maureen adds, “If you want a healthy relationship, it’s a really good place to start. It was her prayer.”

What’s next

Now that she’s had a viral hit, Lee Vasi will continue to make music, with her next single “Your Will” released on Feb. 9. “Your Will” quotes several Bible verses and sees Vasi saying that, if something is not God’s will, she doesn’t want it.

Dwight and Maureen have now seen success come to both Vasi and Zach. Zach is a film executive with A24 Studios, helping put out movies like 2020’s “Minari,” which earned an Oscar and five additional nominations and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. With both their children, Maureen says, they want them to be “healthy, thriving and living life the way that they want to be living it and happy with their choices.”

Vasi says she wants to continue to create positivity in her music. Her social media posts reflect that. A clip of “Teach Me” posted on Jan. 29 is accompanied by a caption that says, “2024 will be the end of the toxic era in Jesus’ name!” Other posts are accompanied by the text “Christian music will end the toxic era.” She believes the reaction to “Teach Me,” helped verify that inkling.

12 March 2024
Vasi's teaser social media video for her song “Teach Me” posted on Jan. 6 went viral on both TikTok and Instagram with more than 474,000 likes combined and over a million views on TikTok as of Feb. 21. Screenshot via Lee Vasi's TikTok profile. Vasi (center) performed original songs for the first time on WFNC AM 640 with Drake Murphy (left) on Jeff “Goldy” Goldberg’s “Good Morning Fayetteville” at the Cumulus Broadcast Center on June 18, 2018. Photo via Lee Vasi’s public Facebook page.

“I think it’s really a testament to how people really want positive messages in music,” she says. “If I can inspire people through my music to think about God’s love, then that’s it.”

North Carolina has produced numerous music stars, ranging from folk band The Avett Brothers to K-Ci of the R&B duo K-Ci & JoJo to American Idol season 3 winner and now Golden Globe nominee Fantasia Barrino. Grammy-winning rapper J. Cole grew up in Fayetteville, and Cumberland County native J. Harrison Ghee won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical last year for their work in “Some Like It Hot” on Broadway. Ghee and Cumberland County native NaTasha Yvette Williams, lead vocalist and Ghee’s co-star in “Some Like It Hot,” also won a Grammy award for Best Musical Theater Album this year.

The city may soon be able to add Vasi to that list of dignitaries, although, if you talk to her, you’d quickly gather that that’s not her goal. All she wants to do is be honest, inspire people, and encourage them to think about God.

It all started in Fayetteville. Vasi was born at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, and she considers her childhood performances at Cape Fear Regional Theatre “a great kind of school for me.”

“It’s my hometown,” Vasi says. “... It’s where I go home for Christmas. It’s where my roots are. It’s home base. Though every major city I’ve lived in and gone to, Fayetteville is always that root. When I went back to recalibrate, it was back home to Fayetteville.” | 13
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Cover art for one of Vasi’s earliest singles “My My My,” which was released on Oct. 23, 2018. Photo via Lee Vasi’s public Facebook page.


Plugging in and praising

Fayetteville’s religious groups and congregations adapt to an increasingly technological and connected world

The website Church Executive, which covers the leadership and business side of Christian churches, surveyed in late 2021 nearly 2,000 Christian church leaders across the United States about their church’s use of technology, purchasing habits, and perspective on the place of tech in the religious space.

The survey found that 93% of churches “believe technology plays an important role in achieving their church’s mission.” There were differences in what part of tech was more important, how often they re-evaluated their tech needs, and what the future holds for tech and church — but the nearconsensus was that technology was crucial.

James Lewis, the executive pastor of

operations at Manna Church in Fayetteville, works at a non-denominational church where technology is crucial to its ministry. To him, he says, it’s part of taking advantage of a world where technology is rapidly evolving and the internet is a cornerstone of people’s lives.

“Why would we exclude the technical aspects of the modern in anything that we did?” Lewis asks.

14 March 2024
Manna Church's Worship Director of Development Stephen Love sings during Manna's live service recording on Feb. 8.

While Manna Church’s multi-campus model and vibrant online presence are a relative norm for the Christian space nowadays, other religions and congregations, in Fayetteville and beyond, take a different approach. While the approaches may be different, Manna Church, the Islamic Center of Fayetteville, and the Jewish synagogue Beth Israel Congregation have two things in common: technology is both part of what they do and not the end-all, be-all that it has become in many aspects of American society.

Practicing salat in Fayetteville

At 1:30 p.m. on Fridays, the Islamic Center of Fayetteville (ICF) conducts its Jummuah Salat. This weekly gathering is a congregational worship based on a commandment from the Quran: “O Believers! When the call to prayer is made on the day of congregation, hurry towards the reminder of God and leave off your business — that is better for you, if only you knew!” There are two parts of this gathering: “salat,” the ritual prayers, and “khutbah,” a sermon delivered during Friday prayers.

The ICF uses its website to serve as a “da’wah” — the Arabic word meaning to “invite” or “summon someone” — for the Islam community in Fayetteville and those visiting to join the Jummuah Salat. The website provides information on where to attend and what time the service is, as well as recordings of past khutbahs.

“We record some of our lectures, we connect them to our YouTube channel, and then we’re able to put the link on our website,” says David Haskins, chairman of the ICF. “So if somebody wants to see our Friday lecture, then they can see that, they can see firsthand what we say on the podium when we were up there.”

The website also serves as an educational introduction to Islam. Visitors can find information on better understanding Islam — one of the center’s stated priorities — like “Allah’s 99 Beautiful Names,” instructions on various types of prayers, and a link to prayer times in Fayetteville.

Daily prayer is among one of the Five Pillars of Islam, known as “arkān al-Islām.” There are five times of prayer: before sunrise, just after noon, late afternoon, just after sunset, and at night. The ICF’s website connects visitors to the website Islamic Finder, which gives accurate prayer times,


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down to the minute with a countdown clock, for cities across the world.

“During the summer months, the days are longer,” Haskins says. “So the prayer times that we have — the five daily prayers — change in the winter month, they’re closer together. And for example, the prayer times in New York, because of the difference in geography is going to be different than the prayer times here in Fayetteville.”

Like many religious organizations and churches, the website also has a calendar of events and important announcements. The ICF also has a Facebook page where it primarily shares YouTube links to its khutbahs.

Morning Manna and the broadcast service

Every morning (with the exception of Sundays) at 5:30 a.m., the Manna Church Facebook page plays host to Morning Manna, a series of videos where a staff member provides a short message on a spiritual topic. The videos are usually around three minutes long and shot in a room with a table, lamp, and potted plant. The speaker sits behind the table and speaks directly into a microphone, looking at the camera.

It’s just one of the many ways that Manna Church uses technology and the internet to not only connect with its own members, but the community at large.

Manna Church’s primary location is a two-building campus on Cliffdale Road, but the church also has five other campuses — Anderson Creek in Spring Lake, Executive Place in Fayetteville, Ramsey Street in Fayetteville, Raeford, and Hope Mills. This, along with other planted churches and smaller groups that meet across the country, explain the church’s primary statement of “One Church, Many Locations,” James Lewis says.

“We have way too many people that would fit here,” says Lewis, speaking of the church’s

8,000-member congregation and regular attendance of around 4,500 people. “We’d have services all doggone day and it would all be packed. Keeping everything within the churchgoing time would require us to be at different places and different sites. So growth kind of helped us develop that.”

While the Cliffdale and Executive Place locations have live preaching and music, the other four locations are run a little differently. Lewis explains that the other four have live hosting and live music, using the same setlist as the main campus, but

16 March 2024
Above, during Manna Church's live service recording on Feb. 8, the congregation lifts their arms in praise. Bottom, Andrew Flores (right) and Natalie Solano operate video cameras during Manna's live service recording on Feb. 8. This illustrates one of the ways Manna Church has incorporated technology into its services. Opposite bottom, Manna Church's technical director monitors cameras and uses a switch to select her chosen scene while directing other camera operators via an audio headset.

through video messages. The messages are recorded on Thursday evenings at the Cliffdale location in what’s called a “capture service.” This service is shared on the church’s website and the file is sent to the other churches under the Manna banner.

These video services have the trappings of many non-traditional churches today: a worship band with multiple instruments, backed by a screen with the lyrics, and a pastor wearing a wireless microphone and Bible verses visible as they read them. Lewis says the church uses five to six cameras to capture the services and utilizes a service director to put the package together.

“It’s just really a camera recording or it’s live and going through a switcher,” Lewis says. “Just think of it as, ‘Hey, the news is playing, sports is playing.’ You have somebody who’s directing who says, ‘Go this camera, this camera.’”

The multi-site model has its fair share of critics in the Christian community, and Lewis says he’s heard it all, primarily about video-recorded sermons. He acknowledges that it’s not for everybody, and that’s OK, and Manna will be happy to direct churchgoers to a more traditional church if that’s what they’re looking for.

But what Manna is trying to do — not just with its lights and fog machines and video packages — is engage people in an experience, Lewis says.

“We create an atmosphere where people can experience the Holy Spirit. All of that feeds into that thing,” he says. “We’re not

doing it just so you can see how amazing our worship leaders are or how amazing our tech people are. We want to create an experience. If we’re doing it right, those things become secondary.”

Honoring Shabbat

Two weeks before the world “shut down” due to Covid-19, Rabbi Dov Goldberg of Beth Israel Congregation received a webcam in the mail. Talk about timing.

The Congregation began to livestream its

Shabbat services, taking one week off to get the technology up and running. It still does to this day, but there’s an important asterisk that makes what Beth Israel does quite different from what Manna Church does.

The Mishnah is a collection of Jewish oral tradition and rabbinic literature, the first of its kind, that provide guidance to Jews across the world on a number of subjects. One of the components of the Mishnah is the 39 categories of “melacha” (work) prohibited on the Sabbath, the day of Jewish worship held on Saturdays. Among them are sowing, plowing, grinding, tying a knot, cutting, writing, and building.

One of the most prominent, particularly when it comes to the use of technology, is extinguishing or kindling a fire. Goldberg and his congregation follow a relatively conservative approach to Jewish law. He says that Jews should not start an electronic device or use it on Shabbat, but can take advantage of something already on.

“According to traditional Jewish law, you’re not permitted to light, extinguish or manipulate fire on Shabbat,” Goldberg says. ‘But if you’ve got a fire going in your fireplace, you can use it. You can’t add wood to it, but you can’t start it once Shabbat has started. Electricity is more complicated, but we draw it as an analogy.” | 17
Manna Church's sound engineer Tim Stewart uses a telephone handset as a transceiver to communicate with the production room on Feb. 8. The handset lets him hear the worship team's sound reverberating through the worship center, allowing better adjustments at the audio console.

The complications that the pandemic posed and the ways in which the synagogue responded have continued to this day. The congregation holds its Shabbat services on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings and will livestream them on Zoom for anyone who is not able to make it to the service. But to adhere to Jewish law, Goldberg will start the stream before Shabbat begins at sunset on Fridays and leave it running throughout the service and until Shabbat ends.

“We’re turning on the device before Shabbat begins,” he says, “and if there’s a problem that doesn’t resolve itself on its own, then sorry, there’s technical difficulties.”

Beth Israel has been using Zoom for other parts of its work as well. Goldberg conducts in-person adult Jewish education classes during the week but also livestreams them on Zoom for those who would rather participate online. He says that the streaming environment is “in some ways … a game changer.”

“It doesn’t change everything and it doesn’t improve everything,” he says. “In some ways, it’s made the game better. In some ways, it’s resulted in some not-great things.”

What technology doesn’t bring

This is a point on which Haskins, Lewis, and Goldberg agree. While technology can be very helpful in certain functions of religious practice and operating a faith group, it cannot and must not be the endall, be-all. Goldberg says he believes that congregation members should physically be in the room during Shabbat services and that joining virtually “is not actually the same as standing outside through the open window.”

“At a minimum, it changes the dynamic,” he says. “In a certain way, it frequently can undermine some of the great type of interactions that only occur when people are in a room together. When it comes to services, certainly in my mind, the experience is all the more heightened in a worship environment.”

Similar to Goldberg, Haskins says participating in the congregational prayers and the “jumu’ah” (the Arabic word that denotes “coming together”) makes inperson attendance vital.

“The collective congregational prayer is an in-person event,” he says. “That’s

what I wanted to mention. If [you’re] not [in-person], you really can’t say that you’ve participated in it because you’re watching it on TV now.”

Lewis says that the virtual vision of Manna Church’s services and all the technological pieces that go with it are part of what is expected at churches nowadays, but are designed to lead to something else. He says members are encouraged to plug in to small groups, where members meet to discuss various topics and spend time getting to know each other. The digital space, particularly, fits that model.

“Because technology has been such a part of our lives, going counter-technology is actually counter intuitive,” Lewis says. “As a church, we have to meet people where they are. That’s what God does, he meets people where they are. If that’s where they are, let’s meet them. Doesn’t mean we stay there. We’re going to give you some content, we’re going to engage you, we’re going to chat with you for a little bit, but we’re going to invite you to a physical presence of some sort at some point in time.”

18 March 2024
Katelyn Fletcher (front) and Love (back) sing during Manna Church's live service recording on Feb. 8.

The future of tech in religion

Haskins admits that, in the future, people may look back and think that his congregation may be seen as “outdated” with the mosque’s insistence on in-person gathering.

“But right now, the general philosophy is that it is a congregational prayer that has to be done in person,” he says, “and that you don’t get the same benefit or reward for doing that prayer by watching somebody else doing it on TV.”

Adherence to tradition is commonplace in religion. Lewis says Manna’s approach to technology isn’t exactly prescribed by something in the Bible, but it is guided by long-held principles in Christian thought.


“When we look at Scripture, there’s really two things you have to do within church,” Lewis says. “One is gather and worship together, and two is preach the word of God. We’re doing it [through] video. We have social media. ‘How’ is not a prescriptive thing.”

Ultimately, Manna Church, the Islamic Center of Fayetteville, and Rabbi Dov Goldberg’s Beth Israel Congregation all have that in common. They are using and adapting the modern tools of technology to fulfill their missions and purposes in their communities. Virtual worship isn’t the top choice for any of them, but technology allows for the use of websites, Facebook, Zoom, YouTube, Instagram, and livestreaming to share religious messages, keep members up to date on important events, and educate the public on their various beliefs.

Goldberg, the son of a rabbi of a small synagogue in Vermont, regularly points out the pros and cons of technology. It can be used to keep in touch with congregants who are going through a tough time and send out a reminder email, he says. For example, Beth Israel sends out weekly bulletins with information and “Shabbat Shalom,” a kind of newsletter with thoughts from Goldberg, news articles on current events, and details on upcoming events.

But when it comes to worship and community, in-person, he says, will always be best.

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Women in Businesses

CityView is proud to feature these women who are entrepreneurs, influencers and leaders in our local businesses. These women are the movers and shakers who are making a difference in our community and are doing their part to make Fayetteville an exciting place to do business.

CityView will be profiling event planners and service owners in our May issue. Call us at 910-423-6500 or email to reserve your spot in this special promotional section.


Debbie Best, CFP®, Financial Advisor


Debbie Best, CFP®, brings three decades of financial experience as a trusted advisor at Edward Jones. Dedicated to her clients’ well-being, she prioritizes listening and understanding their needs, and developing tailored strategies for success. Focusing on guiding successful business owners, professionals, and retirees, Debbie is committed to safeguarding their financial futures through thoughtful income and wealth transfer strategies. With an unwavering belief in trust, confidentiality, and personal relationships, she ensures her clients feel empowered and supported throughout their financial journey.

Member SIPC


228 Winslow St., Fayetteville, NC 28301

The content of this article was sponsored by the local Edward Jones office of Debbie Best.

Marian Adams


Marian Adams, the proud owner of Round-A-Bout Skating Centers, embarked on this roller skating adventure in 1974. Today, with three bustling locations in Fayetteville and Goldsboro, North Carolina, Marian and her dedicated team uphold a tradition of family fun and fitness. With a focus on customer experience, they continue to spread joy for all ages, fostering connections and friendships within their community. Marian’s journey has been guided by her late mother JoAnn Hodges whose wisdom echoes through the business: “Do the best you can every day” and “Always give back to your community.” As they roll into 50 years of service, Marian looks forward to many more smiles, laughter, and cherished moments at the rink. Join them for endless fun and memories!


115 Skateway Drive, Fayetteville, NC 28304


880 Elm St., Fayetteville, NC 28303


1305 Parkway Drive, Goldsboro, NC 27534



Mackenzie Toland is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Behavior Analyst. She is a co-founder of A New Leaf Therapeutic Services PLLC, a beacon of hope and healing in the community since 2014. She is looking forward to celebrating 10 years in business this August for A New Leaf Therapeutic Services PLLC. A New Leaf Therapeutic Services PLLC is one of only two local accredited providers as a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence. Mackenzie attributes the success of A New Leaf to God and to the support of her family, friends, business partner, and second to none employees.

Driven by her faith in God and His purpose for her life, Mackenzie adopts a mission-driven mindset focused on providing opportunities for individuals in our community to foster more stable, healthier, and happier futures. She works to help provide Applied Behavior Analysis, Speech and Language Pathology, and Mental Health Treatment for Fayetteville and the surrounding communities through A New Leaf Therapeutic Services PLLC.

Mackenzie has a special interest in training programs and operations management. She completed and published research based on implementing quality training procedures on feedback reception skills with early career professionals. She has provided training in and out of the local community as an invited speaker and author. A New Leaf Therapeutic Services PLLC offers in house supervision and specially designed training programs for aspiring RBTs, BCaBAs, BCBAs, CF-SLPs, CCC-SLPs, and LCSWAs.


Mackenzie believes in the importance of building a strong community through volunteerism, she has served on local nonprofit boards and serves her church through the children’s program and as an elder. She has volunteered her time extensively to improve our community and available resources, especially for children and those who are underserved in the behavioral health population. Cambridge St. Fayetteville, NC 28303 f l
Mackenzie Eckard Toland, PhD


Audriaunna Burgos


Meet Audriaunna Burgos, the esteemed Prima Elements reiki practitioner, a master in her field with an impressive portfolio of over 500 clients. Her unique approach to healing has garnered the attention of medical professionals, leading to a close collaboration with Cape Fear Valley's Neurology Department, providing Reiki sessions with EEG scanning technology, and giving tangible evidence of how Reiki affects the brain.

She is also the yoga director and founder of Prima Elements Yoga University. With more than 1,200 hours of yoga practice, her knowledge and passion for teaching shine through in every class and workshop she leads. Prima Elements has become a sanctuary for those seeking both physical and spiritual growth.

Her commitment to wellness extends into the community: she works with Fayetteville State University's Intramural Sports Program. There, she introduces athletes to the benefits of yoga, helping them achieve peak performance through mindfulness and stability training.

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910-483-8406 | 124 Anderson St., Fayetteville, NC 28301 |

Jamela Gorham


Jamela Gorham, founder of MelaJay Photography, embarked on her photographic journey in 2015, propelled by personal loss and a career shift from healthcare to pursue her passion full time post-Covid. With five years as a cardiac tech and respiratory therapist at Cape Fear Valley, she honed her keen observation and detail-oriented skills, now translating seamlessly into her photography. Specializing in events and branding, Jamela captures the essence of events and moments, crafting lasting memories and effective marketing materials for families and businesses alike. Her notable collaborations with various Fayetteville institutions underscore her commitment to excellence. Outside of work, Jamela treasures family time, culinary adventures, and globe-trotting escapades with her husband and son. f l

Tara Kamiya


Tara Kamiya, a native New Yorker, wife, and mother of three and is the owner of Boudoir Boutique. As an author, entrepreneur, and prominent figure in the Fayetteville community, Tara infuses her NYC upbringing into her boutique, offering the latest trends in a stylish setting where clients can enjoy sipping cocktails while browsing the hottest trends. Her wedding to

St., Fayetteville, NC
124 Anderson
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Chloé Benhaim


Chloé Benhaim, an Army Reserve veteran and military spouse, was born and raised in South Florida but has since proudly planted her roots deep in Sanford, North Carolina. Chloé epitomizes patriotism and unwavering dedication to our country and the heroic veterans who selflessly serve. With a heart fueled by determination, she courageously embarked on a quest to find solutions for her husband Casey’s — a retired United States military serviceman with 24 years of honorable service and 14 deployments — harrowing battles with PTSD, sleep disorders, and anxiety. She ultimately found kava, a natural remedy, that brought much-needed relief and calmness. Chloé and Casey's shared commitment to holistic healing, particularly for fellow veterans, culminated in the establishment of Wana Navu Kava Bar in 2022. Through their business, they prioritize local vendors and community support while offering a taste of the South Pacific to patrons. Chloé’s enduring dedication to veterans and local initiatives radiates through her generous donations and tireless efforts in supporting Fayetteville’s military families and children, exemplifying her profound sense of pride and patriotism. Her recent contribution to CityView’s HomeFront initiative, helping provide Christmas gifts for 500 Fort Liberty children, underscores her commitment to uplifting the community and honoring the sacrifices of military families.



Dr. Meredith Gronski


The demand for healthcare professionals continues to grow and national data shows Methodist University is strategically successful in providing students the education and experience needed to move immediately into health and human service careers.

Helping to lead these premier academic programs is Dr. Meredith Gronski, who is the dean of MU’s College of Health Sciences & Human Services and director and associate professor of Occupational Therapy. As dean, Gronski helps to ensure MU continues to develop its already renown programs in Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Kinesiology, Social Work, Physician Assistant Studies, Advance Paramedicine, Health Care Administration, a new Occupational Therapy Assistant program, and more.

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910-630-7000 | 5400 Ramsey St., Fayetteville, NC 28311 |
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N. Reilly Road, Suite 106, Fayetteville,
NC 28303

Monique Mackey


Monique Mackey, the heart behind Kindred Spirit Candle Company, infuses love and storytelling into each candle in Grays Creek, North Carolina. Alongside her son, Adrian, she crafts candles that speak to the soul, meticulously curating scents inspired by family members and cherished memories. With each candle hand-mixed and tested in their studio, they offer a fragrance library brimming with unique stories waiting to be experienced. Recognizing the power of scent to evoke emotions, Kindred Spirit Candle Company aims to uplift moods, forge new memories, and inspire through scent. Join their welcoming family where every candle ignites warmth, creates memories, and speaks to the soul.

910-302-7183 |

707 Murchison Road, Suite 11, Fayetteville, NC 28301

Sarah Miranda


Sarah Miranda, a compassionate and seasoned attorney, leads Miranda Law Firm in serving Fayetteville for over three years. With over 20 years of legal expertise, Sarah specializes in family law, offering support in divorce, child custody, and adoptions. Born and raised in Fayetteville, Sarah’s dedication to her community is evident through her involvement in various organizations, including past presidencies at the Cumberland County Bar Association and Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity. Recognized by Super Lawyers and Avvo, Sarah prioritizes each client’s well-being, guiding them through challenging family law matters with empathy and strategic advocacy. To embark on a new chapter with a trusted advocate, contact Miranda Law Firm.

910-900-3880 |

Deanna Holt, CRNA

Deanna Holt, CRNA, is the dedicated owner of Skin Specialists of Fayetteville, a trailblazing medical spa committed to redefining skincare. Since its inception in 2020, Deanna has been at the forefront, providing unparalleled treatments and services that cater to the diverse needs of every client. With a focus on promoting healthy, radiant skin, Skin Specialists of Fayetteville offers a range of anti-aging skincare and hair treatments tailored to enhance individual aesthetics.

Deanna’s journey in the medical field began with her licensure as a practical nurse in 2006, followed by completing her associate’s degree in 2009 and bachelor’s degree in 2011. Commissioned into the U.S. Army in 2013, she pursued further education and graduated with a doctorate of nursing in 2016.

As the owner, Deanna takes pride in curating a dedicated and knowledgeable staff, equipped with top-notch medical-grade machines and treatments to meet the needs of every client. Beyond her professional achievements, Deanna is a devoted mother who balances her business with supporting her daughter’s sporting events. Her commitment to excellence is evident in her upcoming venture, the Skin Specialists School of Esthetics, set to open in 2024, further solidifying her legacy in the skincare industry. Join Deanna on a journey to vibrant, healthy skin, and experience the unmatched expertise and dedication she brings to Skin Specialists of Fayetteville.

SPECIALISTS OF FAYETTEVILLE 910-500-5941 | 209 Fairway Drive, Fayetteville, NC 28305 | f l

Kathy Keefe Jensen

Kathy Keefe Jensen, founder of An Affair to Remember, Fayetteville’s premier formal boutique, is a force for women’s empowerment and community betterment. Leading The Women of Power Society of N.C., she celebrates women’s leadership and contributions to society.

Born and raised in Fayetteville, Kathy’s dedication to her hometown is unwavering. In 1993, she married Lt. Col. Jerry Jenson supporting him throughout the span of his military career and moves, spanning from Fort Liberty to Germany.

In 2005, she embarked on a journey of entrepreneurship, establishing her boutique, An Affair to Remember. Her business not only offers exquisite attire but also serves as a platform for women to shine at her Annual Runway Extravaganza Fashion Show.

Beyond business, Kathy’s impact extends through her involvement in local organizations, her dedication to her church and community groups, and through civic engagement. As Mayor Pro Tem, Kathy has continuously served on the Fayetteville City Council since 2013. She actively contributes to various boards and commissions, driving initiatives for community development and youth empowerment.

Kathy truly embodies a spirit of care and commitment to Fayetteville, making her a beloved figure in our community.

Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home

The professional and experienced staff at Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home is ready to serve you and your loved ones. Lucy Warren Chambers continues the legacy of her parents, Charles and Lucille Warren, as co-owner of the family business. Receptionists Barbara Lawson and Shirley Williams welcome families with friendly smiles. Margaret Storms, funeral service licensee and pre-needs counselor, is available to help find the best way to memorialize your loved one and can assist in the pre-planning process as well. Longtime bookkeeper Debra Davis and the entire staff at Jernigan-Warren provide genuine care and compassion to families in times of need. | 25 SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL SECTION PROFESSIONAL PROFILES Family Owned and Operated Since 1933
Front: Barbara Lawson, Debra Davis, Shirley Williams.
910-483-1331 | 545 Ramsey St., Fayetteville, NC 28301 |
Back: Margaret Storms. Not pictured, Lucy Warren Chambers.
St., Fayetteville,
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AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER 910-486-5323 | 5407 Ramsey
NC 28311 |

The MOX Collective

Melissa Nelson, Saira Meneses, and Jenny Bell are the creative minds behind The MOX Collective, a women-owned-andoperated marketing powerhouse based out of Fayetteville. These women believe in meaningful marketing that is driven by intention and fueled by collaboration, grit, and talent. With their collective academic and professional experience in marketing, communications, public relations, and business management, they form a tight-knit team that delivers exceptional work for their clients. Specializing in nonprofit organization marketing, The MOX Collective embodies the belief that a small group of passionate individuals can indeed make a tangible impact on their community through purposeful marketing strategies.


207 Donaldson St. Fayetteville, NC 28301

Kim Pryzgoda


Dr. Kim Pryzgoda has been practicing dentistry in Fayetteville since 1996. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1989 and her Doctor of Dental Surgery in 1993 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Pryzgoda is married to Craig, and they have a daughter in Seattle, a son at App State, and a lab named Winston. She is an active member of Haymount United Methodist Church, and is a member of the NC Dental Society, the American Dental Association, and the Central Carolina Dental Continuum. Dr. Pryzgoda continues to increase her knowledge of advancements in dentistry by attending numerous courses yearly. She and her staff are dedicated to offering patients the best that dentistry has to offer, and enhancing the patient experience with advances in technology.

Diane Parfitt


City Center

& Books

Downtown Fayetteville, is a passionate advocate for literature. Diane’s deep love of books is evident, creating a welcoming environment for book lovers to discover new literary treasures. Diane’s community engagement shines through in City Center Gallery & Books, where every page tells a story of passion and creativity.

910-678-8899 | f

112 Hay St., Fayetteville, NC 28301




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The Downtown Issue Men in Business

Dr. Pryzgoda is originally from Graham, North Carolina. of Science degree from the University of North Carolina Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of North Dentistry in 1993.


The Military Issue

Veteran-Owned Businesses


Back to School

Family-Owned Businesses

910-826-8900 |

653 Hay St., Fayetteville, NC 28301

Following graduation, Dr. Pryzgoda practiced in Indianapolis In 1996, she and her husband relocated to Fayetteville for 25 years. Dr. Pryzgoda continues to increase her new technologies in dentistry by attending numerous are dedicated to offering patients the best that dentistry patient experience with advances in technology.

Dr. Pryzgoda is married to Craig, and they have two is an active member of Haymount United Methodist

Diane Parfitt, proud owner, along with her husband Hank, of Gallery in

Nest Managers Real Estate


Lindsey Pelaez is the dynamic entrepreneur behind Nest Managers Property Management, a local family-owned business revolutionizing the property management and real estate industry. Inspired by her own quest for quality property management services when she and her husband Marco entered the investment property market in 2008, Lindsey founded Nest Managers in 2015. The company specializes in long-term management of single-family homes, multifamily communities, and homeowner’s associations, while also offering renovation, construction, and real estate transaction services. Lindsey’s leadership of an all-female team underscores her commitment to empowering women in the industry and providing exceptional customer service. Nest Managers is dedicated to giving back to the community by contributing a portion of its management fees to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a cause close to their hearts. With a unique blend of services and a strong emphasis on customer care and community support, Nest Managers sets the standard for excellence in property management, ensuring that clients receive top-notch, comprehensive care every step of the way. Join Nest Managers, where you’re not just a client — you’re part of a community that values integrity, quality, and service.

910-644-8930 | |

Bianca Shoneman


Bianca Shoneman is a seasoned urban manager with over 15 years of experience. Since joining the Cool Spring Downtown District in 2019 as the president/CEO, Bianca’s dedication to leveraging community assets has been nothing short of transformative, helping to revitalize downtown Fayetteville into a vibrant urban center that continues to thrive. Under her dynamic leadership, the District has undergone a remarkable transformation, boasting over 1 million square feet of new and adaptive reuse developments, 18 captivating art installations, and a bustling array of over 20 businesses.

Bianca’s strategic initiatives have not only tripled the district’s budget but also introduced groundbreaking programs like the Safety Engagement Ambassador (SEA) program, significantly enhancing downtown cleanliness and public safety. Together with her dedicated team, they have curated unforgettable city events such as the vibrant New Year’s Eve and Juneteenth celebrations, fostering a strong sense of community engagement and unity. Through strategic collaborations with partners like the Public Works Commission and the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, she has brought stunning new murals and art installations to downtown Fayetteville, further amplifying the district’s charm and appeal.

But Bianca’s commitment doesn’t end there. Her active involvement in local boards such as DistiNCtly Fayetteville and the Greater Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, along with her personal philanthropic endeavors — including impactful work in rural El Salvador — underscores her unwavering dedication to Fayetteville and beyond.



Sacred spaces with divine designs

A look into Cumberland County’s spectacular places of prayer, blending artistry and devotion


Fayetteville, and Cumberland County at large, is home to a plethora of houses of worship with distinct architectural styles, representing the faiths practiced by its congregants. The Hindu Bhavan of Fayetteville gives offerings of nuts and holy basil water (prasad) to the deities during a pooja; Beth Israel Congregation welcomes visitors with a menorah at the entrance and offers loaner kippahs to wear during prayer; St. John Episcopal Church catches eyes with its white exterior and multiple spires; Holy Trinity Episcopal Church guides congregants’ attention to the center of the worship space with its labyrinth tiles; Haymount United Methodist Church sneaks in light through the mesmerizing stained glass windows; First Presbyterian Church reminds downtown Fayetteville of the time with its looming bell tower; and St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church's powerful organs sing with the churchgoers in the pews.

28 March 2024

various deities are displayed in the temple to ensure different Hindu faith traditions are represented; Sri Venkateswara is one of the deities represented on the Hindu Bhavan’s shrine; The Om, a significant symbol used in the Hindu faith, sits above the entrance of the Hindu Bhavan temple at 907 Cedar Creek Road in Fayetteville. | 29
Opposite, Panditji Shree Kamlesh Vyasji shares traditional Hindu practices with a humanities class from Fayetteville Technical Community College Feb. 21 at the Hindu Bhavan temple; Diyas (candles) of clarified butter burn atop a thali (offering plate) during a pooja (prayer). The thalis also carry offerings of food and holy basil water (prasad), incense, vermillion and turmeric paste, rice grains, flowers, and a bell. This page,

Beth Israel Congregation is a multi-generational synagogue focusing on community engagement with support for various cultures throughout the Fayetteville area.

Right, David Dietrich, a member of Beth Israel and a Cumberland County Master Gardener, demonstrates how to use a fire starter at a Tu B’Shvat (environmental Jewish holiday) event by striking a blade against a steel rod at a nearly 90-degree angle, creating a spark; Dietrich shows an alcohol stove handmade during the Tu B’Shvat event on Jan. 28 using aluminum cans, denatured alcohol, and the copper of a penny for added pressure; A container of loaner kippahs sits in front of tallits (prayer shawls) used for visitors who may read from the Torah when visiting the synagogue at 2204 Morganton Road in Fayetteville.

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The St. John's Episcopal Church, seen here at sunset on Feb. 1, was constructed in 1817 and was the first episcopal church established in Fayetteville. The original church building and several other downtown structures were destroyed in an 1831 fire. Today's building at 302 Green St. in Fayetteville was built in 1832 and contains stained glass windows from Munich, Germany that depict biblical scenes.

32 March 2024 | 33
A cross is draped with a purple cloth during Lent from Feb. 14 to March 28 in preparation for Easter at Haymount United Methodist Church; Sunlight races through a stained-glass window of Jesus and Mary Magdalen inside the bridal room at Haymount United Methodist Church at 1700 Fort Bragg Road in Fayetteville on Feb. 21. The Holy Trinty Episcopal Church at 1601 Raeford Road in Fayetteville features a labyrinth within the tiled worship space. Visitors meditate and pray as they walk towards the center.

Left, a view from the inside of the bell tower of First Presbyterian Church at 102 Ann St. in Fayetteville shows the base of the 15,000-pound bell system on Feb. 15. The 20 bells and framework within the tower at First Presbyterian Church fill the air in downtown Fayetteville with sound as they mark the time daily or play a tune. Nineteen of the bells are stationary, and only the clapper moves to generate sound, while the original Hanks bell from 1831 swings via a pulley system.

Right and below, St. Joseph's Episcopal Church is a historic Black church chartered in 1873 and is the second oldest Episcopal congregation in Fayetteville. The combined English Gothic, Spanish, and Queen Anne structure pictured on Feb. 15, was built in 1896 with the help of funding from Eva Smith Cochran from Yonkers, New York; The tabernacle sits in front of the centered stained glass window and stores the sacrament reserved after communion at St. Joseph's Episcopal Church at 509 Ramsey St. in Fayetteville.

Check online version of the photo essay for more photos.

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Living in Islamic faith

‘It’s principled and timeless’: Fayetteville’s Muslim community honors God in everything they do

“It is a recitation that’s not poetry, but it’s poetic. It’s not music, but it’s musical. It’s not science but it is scientific,” Haskins said. “There is a flow to it and a sweetness to it and a rhythm to it.”

Visitors to the Masjid Omar Ibn Sayyid on Murchison Road in Fayetteville remove their shoes in the foyer before stepping onto the mosque’s plush green and gold carpet in a large prayer room where worshippers gather on Fridays for the Jummuah Salat — a sacred congregational prayer in the Islamic faith.

It is Tuesday in Fayetteville, a sunny winter morning.

Facing toward the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, David Haskins recites his midday prayers, kneeling in prostration, his head touching the carpet. It’s one of five prayers he will deliver at specific times during the day.

For deeply devout Muslims, Islam is more than a religion. It is a way of life devoted to the oneness of God as the creator and center of everything, Haskins said. As the chairman of the Islamic Center of Fayetteville, he serves in an administrative leadership position rather than a religious one.

“Our role on earth is to honor the creator and worship in this life he has given us,” Haskins said.

Whether working, resting, earning a living, supporting families, or giving to charity, the Muslim faithful live a life of devotion to God.

Michelle Skinner in the stands at Segra Stadium

“Every aspect of our lives, how we treat our families, how we treat our neighbors, and how we treat other people, is part of our worship,” Haskins said.

The foundations of Islam and the month of Ramadan

March marks one of the most important Islamic holy observances. Ramadan is in the ninth month of the Islamic year and is based on the lunar calendar. It starts on the first evening of the new moon and follows the complete lunar cycle, lasting about 30 days. This year, Ramadan starts on March 10 and ends on April 9.

Ramadan is a month of fasting and spiritual growth through discipline and abstaining from temptations and bad habits. From dawn to dusk each day, Muslims avoid food and drink, including water. The length of each fasting day varies according to regional daylight hours.

This practice bonds Muslims closer to God and teaches individuals to feel compassion toward others, Muslim leaders say.

36 March 2024
Left, Chairman of the Islamic Center of Fayetteville David Haskins shakes hands with Imam Bobby Thomas, right, of the Masjid Omar Ibn Sayyid outside the mosque on Feb. 6.

For Bobby Thomas, the imam — or spiritual leader — at the Masjid Omar Ibn Sayyid, the sacrifices during Ramadan inspire empathy toward those less fortunate.

“I did administrative work in my career, so for me to complain about fasting inside an air-conditioned building all day long was not reasonable, knowing there are people who can’t afford to eat every day,” he said.

Ramadan ends with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, a day devoted to praying and celebrating with family and friends.

Islam is founded on the Five Pillars. The first is the declaration of faith, submission, and dedication to believing there is only one God who sent his messenger, the Prophet Muhammad, to guide humankind.

The Pillars also include obligatory prayers observed before dawn, at sunrise, midday, at sunset, and at night; worshiping God by giving to charity and helping those less fortunate; fasting during Ramadan; and making a pilgrimage to Mecca to strengthen faith and devotion.

For Muslims who seek a roadmap on how to live their lives, they rely on the Quran, the word of God. The holy book contains complete guidance for mankind to maintain a social order of equity and justice toward one another, Haskins said. He describes the Quran as the “final revelation from God, and is designed to be recited out loud.”

“It is a recitation that’s not poetry, but it’s poetic. It’s not music, but it’s musical. It’s not

science but it is scientific,” he said. “There is a flow to it and a sweetness to it and a rhythm to it. It’s principled and timeless.”

The history of Omar Ibn Said and the mosque Travelers along Murchison Road may spot a historical marker on the edge of the Masjid Omar Ibn Sayyid’s vast front lawn, one of a handful of mosques in Fayetteville. The marker honors the life of the mosque’s namesake, Fulani scholar Omar Ibn Said, who was brought against his will from Futa Toro (now Senegal) to America in 1807 as an enslaved individual along with many other West African people.

He was taken to Charleston to work as an enslaved person but escaped from his cruel enslaver and made his way to Fayetteville where he was captured and jailed. Eventually he was bought as property by James Owen, whose brother, John Owen, served as North Carolina’s 24th governor.

Omar Ibn Said eventually moved to Bladen County with the Owen enslavers where he lived until his death in 1864 at the age of 94. He is buried in the family cemetery.

“He was a scholar who studied under religious leaders in Senegal, and his life was remarkable,” Thomas said.

In 1831, Omar wrote an autobiography in Arabic, delivering a significant narrative of his life as an enslaved individual. It was

the only such work written by an enslaved person in Arabic. Although he attended a Presbyterian church with the Owens, Thomas and other local Muslims believe he never embraced Christian beliefs.

In 2010, the N.C. Dept. of Cultural and Natural Resources established a historical marker honoring Omar Ibn Said and placed it at the mosque named after him.

The Islamic Center of Fayetteville, established in 2008, serves as a resource center and a masjid where the faithful can come to engage in their daily prayers, gather for Friday services and attend educational and community programs.

“We are not exclusively the religious body for Islam for the area, but we wanted to establish an Islamic Center as a convenient center for people to worship and pray,” Haskins said.

The Center is housed in a former Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall at 2415 Rosehill Road in Fayetteville, purchased in 2018.

Individuals of other faiths are also welcome at the Islamic Center, including a local group of homeschooled children who have visited to learn about world religions, Haskins said.

“We’ve hosted Scout troops and other groups for presentations, too, and we welcome anyone who has questions or wants to know about Islam,” he said. “It’s one of the ways we perform outreach.” | 37
The Quran, believed to be the word of God, contains complete guidance for mankind to maintain a social order of equity and justice toward one another, A historical marker on the edge of the Masjid Omar Ibn Sayyid’s vast front lawn honors the life of the mosque’s namesake Fulani scholar Omar Ibn Said.

Another way to reach the public is to do good deeds and demonstrate compassion for others.

“We’re not trying to convert people to our traditional way of thinking, but it’s important for us to give clarity to what Islam is and what it is not,” Thomas said. “That’s the type of outreach we do.”

What commitment to the Islamic faith looks like

Thomas, Haskins and the Center’s facilities manager Ajmal Heshaam gathered to discuss their personal relationships with Islam and how they fit their everyday lives around their daily prayers and commitment to their faith.

Haskins, who served for 24 years in the U.S. Air Force, says he started his journey into Islam over 50 years ago when he was in high school.

“Like some people, it took time for me to reach full participation,” he said. “There are those who are still on their journey, who are believers but not practicing, and we accept them.”

Being Muslim in Fayetteville is not difficult or complicated, the men agree. The three, now retired, no longer need to negotiate time off for their prayers with supervisors or punch time clocks.

“When I was in the workforce, I sometimes had to schedule my work around meetings and prayers, but generally speaking, those who are committed to Islam and focused on satisfying their religious obligations will find a way and it’s not a burden,” Heshaam said. “It was never a problem for me at work.”

And while the prayers are on an established schedule, Islam allows for some flexibility.

As a soil scientist for Cumberland County, Heshaam often found himself driving in his car all day, through at least two prayer times, so he prayed in his car.

“I couldn’t do every prayer in the ritual movement — the prostration, but I could say them out loud while driving,” he said.

A former deputy sheriff, Thomas often found himself on duty at the county jail during the Friday congregational prayer time, and successfully negotiated with his supervisor to extend his Friday lunch hour to allow for enough time to go to the mosque to pray.

“I explained that Friday prayers are a 1,400-year tradition and I couldn’t change the day or time,” he said. “We worked it out, and it wasn’t a problem. Even if there is pushback, remember we do have protections for freedom of religion here.”

While their experiences of practicing their religion have been positive, the men acknowledge there is a misconception about Islam in the United States.

“I came to Islam in the 1970s when nobody knew anything about Muslims, and there were hardly any Islamic institutions as there are now,” Haskins said. “Islam is not an organization. It is not tied to race or culture or ethnicity. It is a way of life, based on the belief in one creator who sent prophets to help people stay on the correct course.”

At its essence, Islam is surrendering to God willingly without compulsion or force, he said.

He calls upon people to educate themselves and go to reputable sources to learn about the religion of Islam, rather than media sources that portray Islam as a threat to American people.

Rather, Thomas said, Islam is focused on peace in three parts.

“Islam is the practice of submitting one’s will to God. Muslim is an individual who submits his will to God, and Salam is the peace that comes with submitting your will to God,” Haskins said. “Islam is a religion of peace and a religion of submission — peace through submission.”

38 March 2024
Masjid Omar Ibn Sayyid mosque is located at 2700 Murchison Road in Fayetteville. Imam Bobby Thomas is interviewed by Teri Saylor. PHOTO BY TONY WOOTEN | 39
40 March 2024 SPRING EVENTS Easter at First Presbyterian Church Palm Sunday Celebration March 24 at 11 a.m. The Road To Calvary A Dramatic Tenebrae Service March 27 at 7 p.m. Easter Sunday March 31 7 a.m. Sunrise Service in Lafayette Park 11 a.m. Easter Worship Celebration Visit our website for family friendly activities offered during Holy Week! FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH Where we share the Gospel and serve Jesus Christ Christ Centered • Mission Focused • Warm Traditional Worship • Welcoming Congregation Loving Fellowship • Lifetime Learning • Children & Youth Programs • Historic Downtown Location 102 Ann Street, Fayetteville, NC | (910) 483-0121 | @1STPREZ | @FIRSTPREZFAY Join us for REGISTER NOW! OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. MARCH 23RD | 41


Here are just some of the things happening in and around Fayetteville this month. For more events and additional information, visit Email to share your event with us!

MARCH 8-24


Gilbert Theater 116 Green St., Fayetteville


Blippi: The Wonderful World Tour Crown Coliseum 1960 Coliseum Drive, Fayetteville


Mommy & Son Dance Fayetteville Chapter 82nd Airborne Division 606 Johnson St., Fayetteville


Gold City Quartet

Massey Hill Baptist Church 1027 Southern Ave., Fayetteville


Blazin’ Brass Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra

Haymount United Methodist Church 1700 Fort Bragg Road, Fayetteville


Donna Washington

Bordeaux Community Library 3711 Village Drive, Fayetteville


Puppies & Pi(e)

Throckmorton Library R. Miller Street, BLDG 1-3346, Fort Liberty

MARCH 14-15

FAHFH Women Build Classes

Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity 733 Bargain St., Fayetteville

MARCH 15-17

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Capitol Encore Academy 126 Hay St., Fayetteville

MARCH 15-17

North Carolina Home Expo

Crown Complex 1960 Coliseum Drive, Fayetteville


Shamrock Skate

Cleland Ice Rink Rock Merritt Ave., BLDG 3-1606, Fort Liberty


Wanda Sykes

Crown Theater 1960 Coliseum Drive, Fayetteville


The Play That Goes Wrong

Cape Fear Regional Theatre 1209 Hay St., Fayetteville


Walk Awhile 2024

Downtown Fayetteville Hay Street, Fayetteville


All American Races

Main Post Parade Field 1500 Howell St., BLDG F-4208, Fort Liberty

42 March 2024




Get your tickets and join us as Cape Fear Valley Health presents CITYVIEW MEDIA’S FOURTH ANNUAL LADIES NIGHT OUT!

The women of Fayetteville will gather for an evening of shopping, eating, drinking, dancing and entertainment at the Carolina Barn at McCormick Farms.


Join us as Cape Fear Valley Health presents CityView Media’s fourth annual Ladies Night Out April 18 at the Carolina Barn at McCormick Farms. You and your besties are invited for a fun evening of food, wine and entertainment. We’ll have vendors for shopping, music, a silent auction and demonstrations.


• Entry into the event

• Food samplings from local eateries

• Two drink tickets

• One raffle ticket into our prize drawing

• Early bird pricing ends March 15


Furever Friends Pet Adoption

Hope Mills Community Library and Cumberland County Animal Services joined forces for the 'Furever' Friends Pet Adoption Event on Feb. 19, bringing together adorable companions in search of their fur-ever families.

Victoria, Landen, Cameron, Makenzie Hopkins and Beverly Babb Addiline, Ella and Atlas Privette Paige Moody and Katelyn Harris Isabelle Garcia Gabrielle and Isabelle Garcia Jia Bush Keira, Elizabeth and Avva Stewart Elainea Wright Library staff Taylor Copec, Tyrone Elliott and Amanda Organ

ComMUnity Care

Methodist University Sets the Standard

The need for quality healthcare has never been more evident, and Methodist University continues to lead the way in providing bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral students the education and experience needed for successful health professional careers in southeastern N.C.


of MU Students Receive Financial Aid

The Region’s Premier Health Science Programs



Physical Therapy

Occupational Therapy

Physician Assistant Studies

Clincial Mental Health Counseling


Social Work

Advanced Paramedicine Health Care Administration

And Many More...

+ New, State-of-the-Art School of Medicine

Methodist University has partnered with Cape Fear Valley Health and announced the intent to open a new school of medicine1.


Some Programs Offered Online

The MU College of Medicine and cutting-edge medical school will train the next generation of heath care professionals in the region and is scheduled to open in 2026. (pending approval by the LCME and SACSCOC) 1 .

To learn more about MU’s College of Health Sciences & Human Services and the new College of Medicine, visit or scan this QR code. | 45
Methodist University | 5400 Ramsey Street | Fayetteville, NC 20311 |
will not publish admission requirements nor consider any
to the program until after SACSCOC and LCME approval.
1The SOM


Mardi Gras Taco

Cooking4Fitness hosted a festive and flavorful Mardi Gras celebration Feb. 13 in their Open Kitchen space. Participants created healthy and delicious tacos as a combined celebration of Taco Tuesday and Fat Tuesday.

46 March 2024
Calina and Ashley Jones Kim Howard, Hank Lynch, Tonya Campbell, April Perton, Chanika Crowder and Renee Barnes Leah Williams, April Perton and Williow Largura Janet Colvin, Latoria Sizer and Verga Davis


Discover your dream home in our collection, where luxury meets comfort and functionality. Our homes, set in vibrant communities, are designed to cater to your every need, offering a blend of elegance and practical living. Find the perfect space to call home, grow, and make lasting memories. Your ideal lifestyle awaits.

Our Christmas Home Tour is in two of our neighborhoods, the first two weekends in December on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

We are offering interest buydowns starting as low as 4.5% buydown for the 10 move-in ready models during this Christmas Parade of Homes Tour.

• Luxury Amenities

• Intricate Details

• Fully Customized

• Chef Kitchens

• Spa Bathrooms

You are invited to celebrate the season with the Floyd Christmas Open House. Come see the exquisitely, decorated homes and all of our latest features.  Pick up your gift from under our tree and enjoy a glass of eggnog while sharing holiday food, fun, and cheer with us.

Exquisite Living & Meticulous Design 3 GENERATIONS OF HOME BUILDING Over 70 Years of Homebuilding Excellence Main Phone: 910-978-8086 Main Email: 901 Arsenal Ave. Fayetteville, NC CHRISTMAS TOUR home
5-7 PM
Dec. 8 from
- 5 PM Where
for information
Saturday, Dec. 9 from 10 AM
Phone: 910-237-5026 | Email: |











Your Children Come 4005 Fayetteville Road Raeford, NC 28376 Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 910.848.KIDS (5437) 6415 Brookstone Lane, Suite 101 Fayetteville, NC 28314 Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 910.306.KIDS (5437) 2035 Valleygate Dr., Suite 101 Fayetteville, NC 28304 Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 910.677.0007
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Olson, FNPC Pediatric Services We Provide Check Ups, Sick Child Visits & More in Raeford and Fayetteville • Well Child Visits • Sick Child Visits • Vaccine & Immunization Schedule • 2023-2024 Guide to the Flu • School, Sports, & Camp Physicals • Autism Spectrum Disorder • Vaccines & Immunizations • ADHD Testing & Treatment • Asthma Symptoms & Treatment • Breastfeeding Support • Urinalysis • Strep and Mono Screen • Vision and Hearing Tests Brookstone office only 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. Saturdays for sick/urgent appointments, established patients only. Kids First Pediatrics of Raeford and Fayetteville has created a professional and caring medical environment for infants, children, adolescents and their families. We provide complete pediatric and adolescent care.

Relief from chronic pain begins here.

Learn how we can help you resolve chronic pain and enjoy life more.

No one should suffer from chronic pain alone. At Cape Fear Valley Interventional Pain Specialists, our team is here to help you get relief from pain and get back to enjoying life. We help manage and treat patients with chronic pain of the spine, neck and back. Our goal is to utilize all sources of treatment to eliminate your pain in the fastest and most effective way possible.

In addition to our highly trained staff, Judit Andrea Cope, MD, provides treatment for patients in our clinic. Dr. Cope is a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor, with fellowship training in interventional spinal procedures.

Our Interventional Procedures Include:

• Cervical, thoracic, lumbar & sacral transforaminal epidural steroid injections

• Sacroiliac & facet joint injections

• Cervical & lumbar medial branch blocks & radiofrequency ablation

• Lumbar sympathetic & stellate ganglion blocks

• Peripheral joint/bursa injections & tendon sheath injections

• Peripheral nerve blocks

• Spasticity management with botulinum toxin

• Migraine headaches & cervical dystonia treatment with botulinum toxin

Judit Andrea Cope, MD
Walter Reed Road, Fayetteville, NC
Interventional Spine & Pain Specialist 1205
For an appointment: (910) 615-PAIN (7246)
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