Brown’s Faith Temple Church of God in Christ
The history of this great church, Brown’s Faith Temple Church of God in Christ, cannot be recorded in full. It would take an entire book, just to record all the souls that have been saved and blessed through the power of God working through this church. Each conversion of a sinner’s life
is an important legacy of this church.
In the mid 40’s marks the birth of the Upper Alton Church of God in Christ. Mr. Lee and Sis. Gertrude Johnson begin led of God started a family Prayer and Bible study in their home, located in the 2500 block of Washington Avenue just North of Locust Street on the east side of the roadway. The Johnson began with their family members with prayer, singing, and bible study. Soon non-family members were coming, and eventually the community’s children and adults were attending. The number had grown so large that there was no room in their home to contain them. This did not stop them, but encouraged them even the more because God was setting his approval upon his work being done. Mr. Johnson erected a tent, in their backyard, and service was moved from the home to the backyard where the ground was covered with sawdust and a canvas top to give them shelter.
The Johnson’s moved the tent from their backyard to the rear of a vacant lot, located at the 2600 block of Main Street, where family, friends, and citywide community were welcome to come and worship. They worshipped under the tent during the summer and winter of the year 1946, while the members and friends worked on building a basement on the lot of 2603 Main Street. Upon the completion of the basement the church was named Upper Alton Church of God in Christ in 1947 so marked the beginning of such a great church. The families associated with such a humble beginning were the Johnson’s, Gilchrest, Perkins, Neals, Parkers, Blands, Brooks, Scotts, Whites, Sanders, Davis, Smalls, and Lacy. God’s plan was now in motion, God started to manifest his church. At the request of the people a Pastor was needed.
In Chicago, under the leadership of the late Bishop E.E. Lenox, there was an ordained Elder Alonzo L. Tinsley and his wife Estelle, which was recommended to
come and fill the position. Elder Tinsley accepted and became the pastor of the church. The ministry continued to grow; new souls were saved and came to worship under the leadership of Elder Tinsley. Elder and Mother Tinsley served the church faithfully along by their side Elder and Sister Grady, who later became the assistant Pastor. In the latter part of 1959 Elder Tinsley was appointed District Superintendent of the Bethlehem District in Springfield Illinois, which required Elder and Mother Tinsley to relocate to Springfield, leaving the church pastorship vacant once again.
In March of 1960, an anointed and fully dedicated minister (Elder C.B. Brown) was appointed to pastor the church. Consisting now of two (2) adult members and several Sunday School attendants. At this time the church was literally a block basement with a roof that was badly decayed. Through the ministry of Elder C.B. Brown God has blessed us both spiritually and naturally with a greater church. In accordance with our pastor many outstanding evangelist, missionaries, and anointed saints of God have endured toward one great goal; building of a new sanctuary. The first building fund program was chaired by Governor Harris which consisted of one (1) week salary.
In 1963 while under the leadership of Elder Brown the Lord sent Elder Richard Lollis and his family to Alton. First fellowshipping and later joined the church. Elder Lollis belief and teaching were so strong and in accordance with the word of God, Elder Brown appointed him as assistant pastor. While they served God faithfully the Lord blessed them in numerous ways. “Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” Acts 2:47. In April of 1967, approximately one year before the completion of the church, a memorable event came to Alton, through the anointing of Evangelist Floyd Brown. God opened the windows of heaven poured out his miraculous blessings in an eleven (11) weeks revival. Over 100 souls were saved and filled with the Holy Ghost. The revival not only inspired and saved souls, but many were blessed, healed, and delivered in these services.
In the fall of 1967, the construction of the new sanctuary began on top of the original basement. During the construction of the building we worshipped at the old St. James Baptist Church located at 1800 Market Street until the completion of the new church was finished. On September 29, 1968, we motored from Market Street to the Salu Park where we marched to 2603 Main Street where the opening and cutting of the ribbon of the new church. During the dedication service, the church was renamed Brown Faith Temple Church of God in Christ in honor of Pastor C.B. Brown because it was by FAITH the church was built.
Many events came to pass at Brown Faith Temple. Brown Faith Temple was the first church in the area to own a forty-six (46) passenger (Greyhound Bus) Coach; traveling coast to coast to attend conventions, retreats, and various church/ministry functions. Our slogan on the bus was “We Are On The Move For God” would always get the attention of travelers.
New churches were opened and other churches were later pastored by ministers from Brown’s Faith Temple. Just to name of few of the churches, Grace Memorial COGIC pastored by Elder Samuel White, Holy Ghost Temple COGIC pastored by Elder Freeman Franklin, Spirit of Faith Church pastored by Elder Paul Caldwell, Church in Baltimore, Maryland pastored by Elder William Lockheart , Pentecostal Temple COGIC in Centralia, IL pastored by the late Elder Sylvester Frison, Gross Street COGIC pastored by Elder Matthew Collins, and Summers Faith Temple COGIC pastored by Elder Richard Lollis. Many other members of Brown Faith Temple have been very successful in the community such as business leaders, doctors, nurses, educators (superintendent of schools, professors, teachers, counselors, etc.) and continued to remain faithful to God for his blessing he has bestowed on each of them.
Elder C.B. Brown served faithfully until the Lord called him from labor to reward on October 3, 1989. Mother Brown remained to assist in carrying on the work of Pastor Brown until she was called home to glory in mid-September 2001. In April of 1990 Elder Governor Harris was appointed by Bishop John I. Cobb (Bishop of Southern Illinois Jurisdiction) and served as the pastor until March of 2012. Now some fifty (50) years later, by God’s divine providence from the humble beginning of Brother Lee and Sis. Gertrude Johnson the pastor of Brown’s Faith Temple COGIC is Elder Governor Harris, the Son-in-law of the late Elder C.B. Brown and the nephew of Brother Lee and Gertrude Johnson. As equally important as the members, so was the contributions of the non-members, well wishes and those who contributed to the church are many in numbers. We have barely touched the surface of all the wonderful things God has done for his people.
Due to illness and the need to be closer to much of his family, Pastor Governor Harris relocated back to the Milwaukee WI area while Elder W.C. Harris served as his assistant pastor for three and a half (3.5) years. During this time, Pastor Governor Harris prayerfully considered the church and its need for a full-time permanent pastor that could meet their immediate needs, he relinquished the long commutes and resigned with the recommendation of Elder William “Chris” Harris. With the members of Brown’s Faith Temple Church and the Southern Illinois Jurisdictional Bishop (Prelate) being in agreement, Elder W.C. Harris was appointed pastor on March 19th, 2012 and later officially installed as pastor on May 5, 2012. During the first two (2) months of leadership of Pastor W.C. Harris, the church grew from fifteen (15) faithful members to fifty (50). Can you see where God has brought us from and the new horizon we’re now embracing in the twenty-first century under our current leadership of Pastor William C. Harris and Lady Jocelyn Harris? Our pastor’s vision is to “Maximize Your Impact” in the home, community, and abroad for the kingdom of God. Again, God is with Brown’s Faith Temple in favoring the vision of its leader and the members at the church.