Congregation Gives New Life To Vacant Church

June 07, 1991|By Robert Lee | Robert Lee,Staff writer

After eight years building a congregation in the inner city of Buffalo, N.Y., and a five-year ministry in Zaire, Africa, the task of renovating the old orange church overlooking Fort Smallwood Road requiredonly a relatively small leap of faith for Thomas and Judy Brazell.

"Being in an orange church has actually been a kind of blessing because it's brought attention to us," explains Brazell, sitting behind his desk at what is now the Community Gospel Church of Pasadena. "Some people told us we were crazy to take this on. But, we explain you have to see things on faith for what they can be and not what they aresometimes."

Though they brought their 75-member parish to the orange church just north of the Stoney Creek drawbridge for Easter services, the official rededication ceremony for the church will take place Sunday. Several area charismatic and Pentecostal preachers will take part.

For two years, since the Zairian president, Marshal Mobutu Sese Seko, "invited" them to leave their African Pentecostal bible college in the capital city of Kinshasa, the Brazells have been holding services at Jacobsville Elementary School and the Long Point Association building. They also have conducted some church programs from their parishioners' homes.

"The day we got back from Africa, we were called by the Lord to present Christ in a relevant way to the people of Pasadena," said Brazell, an energetic preacher who says he found Christ after"struggling" with other spiritualistic philosophies in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Tired of the people asking "how do you get all those people into a post office box for services?" the Brazells bought the dilapidated orange church -- vacant since the early '80s -- for $140,000 in March and renovated the interior.

The outside is now half-orange. The Brazells are covering the old paint with white siding and black shutters, an effect that causes passers-by to do a double-take.

Judy Brazell says in the past two years they have noticed severalneeds in the North County area. They include emergency food shelters, support groups for single-parent families and latch-key children and a place where teen-agers can gather, unfettered by the "misguiding influences" of drugs and greed.

Now that they have a church, the Brazells plan to establish programs to address these needs, beginning this summer.

"For the past two years, we have been trying set downour roots to draw nutrients from the soil. We are just starting to draw from the community," Thomas Brazell said. "I'd be happy to stay here the rest of my life."

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