Brooks Shaw Temple United Methodist ChurchOpen Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.
On July 31, 2007, the members of Brooks United Methodist Church and Shaw Temple United Methodist Church met in a Charge Conference led by the Rev. Ralph Ford, our District Superintendent, and our then pastor, Rev. Deborah Williams, and voted to bring these two congregations together as one. Though we celebrate as a merged congregation, we still have a history that expands some 70 years.
Shaw Temple had its beginnings in 1937 under the leadership of the late Rev. A. B. Harris. The Church was named after the late Bishop A. P. Shaw who saw the potential in a little church building at 8819 Marks Street that was up for sale. The doors opened with 26 to join during the first Sunday’s worship service. Names of some of the first families include the Gilberts, the McManus’, the McCaskills, the Pipers’ and the Breauxs’. Descendents of other first family members are still actively involved here at Brooks Shaw.
Over the years, Shaw Temple offered outreach ministries to the residents in this Hollygrove Community, with vacation bible school, Sunday school, holiday events, Thanksgiving and Christmas gift giving; health fairs, school supplies giveaways, and more. The Hollygrove Neighborhood Improvement Association used Shaw Temple as its home base. With a membership under 70, a family atmosphere was warm and inviting to all who came to worship or visit.
Across town, Brooks Church was located at 4000 Buchanan St. in the Gentilly area. It was founded in November of 1948, with only five members, with its first worship services held in the home of one of the members. Rev. C. O. Greene organized the City Mission Methodist Church, which was an outgrowth of the City Mission Church School. The School was formed in 1942 by Ms. Edith Grace Henry Keelen for Methodist and other persons who had no church school to attend. The recreational building at the St. Bernard project was the location used for the school and, eventually, for worship services. Over time, concerns grew about safety in that area, so Rev. Greene arranged for the program to continue its services at the Shaw Temple site, where he had been appointed pastor. When Rev. Greene was moved from Shaw, the group stopped meeting for a time; but God opened another door. When the Louisiana Conference constructed the Lafon Protestant Home with Rev. Greene as its Director, the group reorganized, using some space at Lafon home until the building on Buchanan St. was constructed in 1959. During this time, Rev. Greene was still the pastor, working without any pay from the church and still keeping his Conference obligations at other churches.
The City Mission Church formally became Brooks Methodist Church in January 1949 when Rev. Robert N. Brooks was the Resident Bishop of the Louisiana Annual Conference of the Central Jurisdiction. Names of some of the early members include the Jones sisters: Martha, Vera and Edith Jones; the Mondy sisters; Lois and Elizabeth Mondy; the Tasker sisters: Rose, Ruth, and Florence Tasker; the Blackmon brothers: Clarence (Bobby) and Ronald Blackmon as well as Reverend B.F. Smith, Ada Smith, Joseph B. and Edith Grace Henry and Sylvia Daniels who were the original five members. view more images
It is interesting how God connects us to people during one season for one reason and then reconnects us for another reason in another season. As stated above, Brooks and Shaw had crossed paths in the early 50’s. Then in 1997, the two churches became a two-point charge under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Dale Branch. When Hurricane Katrina hit and the floodwaters inundated our streets, members of these two churches scattered and no one was certain of their fate, but God knew. Following the appointment of Rev. Deborah Williams in 2006 to Brooks and Rev. Shawn Anglim as pastor of Shaw Temple, a partnership was formed between some members of the two churches to engage in some evangelism in the communities in which each church resided. Though the doors of neither church were opened, they had faith in God that somehow, some way, some day, there would be restoration. As a result of that brief partnership and the commitment of those few members, conversations were begun about the possibility of the two churches working together. Rev. Williams was reassigned as the pastor in June 2007 of the two-point charge, and the conversations continued until the vote on July 31 where the two officially became one. “We believe that it has been a union made in heaven, blessed and ordained by God”.
The Brooks Church on Buchanan Street had extensive damage and would require elevation in addition to expansive repairs. The Shaw building was a new structure, scheduled to be completed in September of 2005. The damage was less severe, but there was a concern that funds were not available to do all that was needed. But God, who provides for our needs, made the way. Under the leadership of Rev. Anglim, and with the creativity of some of the members, we were blessed with funds, through the Clinton /Bush Foundation. Additionally, we received financial support and volunteer labor from churches around the country, as well as the pooling of funds from the two churches, so that the repairs needed could be completed and the necessary items for the building could be purchased. We began worshiping in this building in June 2007 without air conditioning, carpet or some of the other desired amenities. But, praise God, we now have all of that and more. In June, 2008 we sponsored our first banquet fund-raiser, utilizing our beautiful space in grand style. We have been wonderfully and abundantly blessed and the Lord is still sending blessings our way.
In 2008, we became a two-point charge with People’s United Methodist Church with Rev. Eunice Chigumira as our shepherd and senior pastor. Rev. Chigumira is a spirit-filled dynamic leader, teacher and preacher who was sent for such a time as this: a time for reflection, introspection and spiritual growth. Under her leadership we have become more administratively effective, increased our membership and heard the Lord’s call for us to do more service for God’s people.
With the completion of our worship center, we have plenty space to share with the community. We host the Hollygrove-Dixon Neighborhood Association meetings and partnered with them to lend support to Mary Bethune Elementary School and provide school supplies to the neighborhood children. Our other outreach ministries include hosting two luncheons a year for community seniors; donating food baskets to needy families four times a year and inviting community children to our Vacation Bible School in the summer. In partnership with New Orleans Catholic Charities, we are a host site for monthly distribution of commodities to seniors in the area. In 2010, we sold the Buchanan Street property allowing us to be able to purchase the adjoining property on General Ogden and Pear Streets where we will have more space to enhance our outreach ministries.
In addition to our outreach ministries, members receive nurturing through recognition of birthdays, anniversaries and other special events. We also have opportunities for learning through weekly adult bible study classes and Sunday school. Our worship services are inspirational, encouraging and another chance to learn more about God’s Word.
As a merged congregation we celebrate our eighth year, but as the people of God, we celebrate 74 plus years of service to God and to God’s people. We continue to grow in members and in service to the community. Paul encourages us in 2 Thessalonians to “not grow weary in well-doing”, We still have much work to do, so we keep our hands in God’s unchanging hand, continue to be obedient to God’s will and more forward in God’s name.
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