On a whiteboard at True Faith Church of God in Christ were brief notes left from a lesson taught to young people by Evangelist Pearlie Brown.
Pearlie Brown is the church’s co-founder and wife of its founder and pastor, Evans Brown.
The notes said, “Keep clean of creeping things that can enter your heart: envy, hate, fear, strife, abuse.”
Pearlie Brown said what she was teaching relates to her, her husband and the church’s calling.
“There’s so much darkness in the world,” she said. “We want to be light and we want to be as much help to people as we can be. We’re not there yet, but we’re still on our way and still believing we’ll see all God wants to have happen, happen.”
Pearlie Brown said the lesson was from Hebrews 12, beginning with verse 14, which says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” She said the chapter goes on to talk about eternal promises given by God and about a kingdom of love, peace and righteousness that won’t end.
“It’s easy for us, especially young people, to let all kinds of things enter our hearts and take control,” she said. “There’s so much hate and greed these days and people just don’t do like they should. The gospel way tells us to keep those things out of our hearts and let God’s ways take control instead.”
That’s often the message the Brown’s try to teach in their congregation and what they hope to teach others in their east Macon neighborhood, the neighborhood Evans Brown was born in.
“East Macon is the forgotten part of Macon,” Evans Brown said. “We don’t have business and industry and we’re not growing like you’d want to. We want to bring hope back. When we returned here in 2003 and bought the property, the area was drug infested. Kids in the daycare we ran for a while had to get on the floor because of shooting. We’ve seen a decrease in drugs and that kind of action now, but there are still problems. I believe our prayers and the work we do are making a difference. We want to be a nurturing place. A helping place.”
The problem the Browns say they face fulfilling more of their mission boils down to finances. They don’t have enough to do all they want or to make restorations to their property they want to make.
But things are happening slowly.
“Our property and facilities once belonged to Cross Keys Baptist Church,” Evans Brown said. “It was a well-known Macon church and had a big impact in its day. We honor that heritage and want to have the same impact. Cross Keys had a large bus ministry and an academy and served children well. Our heart is to have that same impact. The property was run down and a lot of it couldn’t be restored. There’s still needed restoration though some parts are very nice. We continue to fix it up.”
The couple said their vision is to establish ministries such as a food ministry, an expansion of their current clothes ministry, a school, a fine arts center, and one day maybe even a shelter.
But one thing Evans Brown sought to do but couldn’t was save Cross Key’s original, street-facing sanctuary building. He said it held sentimental value for former Cross Keys members and many tried to help, but all to no avail. Economics, he said, and a city mandate to fix it or tear it down made the choice to tear it down clear. Demolition was completed in early October.
“Full restoration would have cost $1 million and we don’t have it,” Evans Brown said. “The roof was falling in and would have cost $40,000 to fix and that would have only let us keep it standing, all boarded up. It cost $38,000 to tear down and took us a while to raise that. It didn’t take an Einstein to figure out what we had to do. Now that it’s down we’re working on repairs in other buildings and we’ll landscape the space and make it nice. We had a harvest festival there weeks ago, I think was a blessing to the community.”
Though the building couldn’t be kept, Evans Brown said he’s kept many artifacts and is committed to creating a Cross Keys museum in a remaining building. He said according to his information, Cross Keys began in 1946 and closed in 1997.
Without funds to do all they want to do, Evans Brown said the church is in the position of Peter and John in the Book of Acts when a lame man asked them for money.
“Peter said, ‘Silver and gold have I none, but what I do have give I unto thee,’” he said. “We can give what God has given us and really that’s the most important thing. As we have money, we certainly use it, but what we really have is the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s power to change things. We have the power of prayer. We have a love for those around us. And we still have faith that God can do great things.”
As well as a heart for those around them, God has put a special burden on the Browns’ hearts to walk humbly and with integrity. Evans Brown said because the church receives outside contributions, True Faith’s records are always open for inspection and he’s always open to good ideas from others about how to best go about things.
“I know the demolition took a long time and some may have wondered about money given for the project being used for other things,” he said. “But everything went for what it was intended. It’s important to us because we want to represent integrity and doing things the right way. We want to honor God and teach others it’s a blessing to live that way.”
With Evans Brown working full-time in ministry — and he stresses working, he’s a carpenter and does much of the physical restoration and maintenance work at True Faith — and with Pearlie Brown only taking outside work selling insurance in the past several years, the two have seen hardship and learned how to operate “low budget” if not “low rent.”
“For a long time, we just had one vehicle and it was an old truck,” Evans Brown said. “I still drive it, but now Pearlie was able to get a car, a Kia. I was a little worried people might think money given to the church went for us a new car, but that’s not the case. Like I say, we know how to live ‘low budget’ or pinching pennies personally, but we’ve always made sure things were done right for the church.”
A Macon-native, Evans Brown served in the United States Army for two years and the Georgia National Guard for 11. He met his wife-to-be while preaching revival services in Sandersville. They have four grown children and numerous grand and great grandchildren.
After serving in other churches, Evans Brown began True Faith in 1982. It met in several locations before its current site. Evans Brown is a graduate of Turner Theological Seminary.
“We face challenges but God sustains us,” he said. “As stewards of this property, we don’t want to turn back the hands of time, but do want to preserve and honor the past while moving forward into the future. We’ll continue to be a place of healing, a force for making a difference. Leaders have to set the atmosphere for it and mustn’t be corrupt. We’re certainly optimistic God will keep his word. We praise him for those who have helped and who will help us be that light.”
Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.
True Faith Church of God In Christ
Address: 2048 Jeffersonville Rd., Macon, Ga. 31217
Leadership: Evans Brown Sr., pastor, and Pearlie Brown, evangelist
Worship: Sunday school 9:30 a.m., worship 11 a.m., Wednesday prayer 6:30 p.m.,
Bible study 7 p.m.