The Lenox Road Baptist Church is considered a beacon of hope in the East Flatbush community which it serves.
The church has stood at the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Lenox Road for more than 137 years but the newly renovated state-of-the-arts building is approximately six years old and well equipped to facilitate the large congregation which now calls the Lenox Road Baptist Church home.
According to church literature, “The Lenox Road Baptist Church exists to make disciples; followers of Jesus Christ who are committed to one another and are sent to serve in the world.”
According to Sunday School teacher, Elder Pryce, whose husband, Minister Adam Pryce is also a Deacon at the church, “This mission is actualized daily via the many ministries that are active at the church.”
Among the many ministries are the Health Ministry, Social Concern, Senior’s Ministry, Laymen’s Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Sports and Security, Prayer Fellowship, Youth Ministry, K.I.D.S. Ministry, Marriage Ministry, Mentoring, Nursery and Hospitality to name a few.
“The church is doing a lot of positive and impactful work,” she says and “the community is responsive to the call and outreach of the church.” The congregation at LRBC is extremely diverse and under the leadership of Jamaican-born Senior Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Kirkpatrick Cohall, Lenox Road Baptist Church stands tall in the New York church community as a leader and continues to grow its congregation attracting attendance from a wide cross section of the community. It should be noted that when Jamaica’s Prime Minister, the Hon.
Portia Simpson-Miller visited New York recently it was Dr. Cohall and the Lenox Road Baptist Church that hosted her and her entourage for a town hall meeting. The church opened its doors to the community which turned out in large numbers to greet the Prime Minister.
This diversity is best reflected in their annual International Sunday Celebration. This year, the celebration occurred on Sunday, April 29 where worshippers and friends and family packed the church for both the 8a.m. and the 11am service.
The 11am services are streamed live www.lrbc.net. As their mission statement reads, “We seek to reach people, welcoming them into our fellowship and introducing them to faith in Christ; we work to help them grow in personal discipleship and we send them to ministry and leadership.”
This leadership and welcoming spirit was evident on International Sunday at the historic church where congregants showed up colorfully attired in their national dress, representing their homeland, waving flags and celebrating their diversity.
Inside the Sanctuary large flags from various countries draped the walls. Service commenced with a vibrant and lively procession of the flags from the countries represented. The congregation was on its feet singing and clapping to the up-tempo “Wave Your Flag and Do a Flag Dance” as the procession made its way up the aisles.
Among the 19 countries represented were Nigeria, Liberia, St. Lucia, Panama, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, US Virgin Islands, Haiti, Grenada, Costa Rica, The United Kingdom, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands and even South Korea.
An informational and well-narrated montage of the various countries played on the overhead screens which surround the sanctuary allowing everyone to view with ease. The sanctuary was full and so were the balcony and the overflow room.
The spirit of diversity was further reflected during the readings when Psalm 133 was read in French, Yoruba and English and the 2nd Reading, Acts 2:1-6, was done in Creole, Spanish and English.
An elegant Rev. Norma Williams beautifully clad in her Jamaican bandana outfit offered the welcome and acknowledged new comers to the LRBC. She as well as Rev. Cohall, congratulated those responsible for coordinating International Sunday which by all accounts was a huge success.
They both encouraged folks to visit the booths downstairs showcasing delicacies and artifacts unique to the exhibiting countries. Rev. Cohall introduced Rev. Eleazar Ziherambere of Rwanda as the guest minister for International Sunday.
Rev. Eleazar Ziherambere, no stranger to LRBC, had spoken at the church 10 years before and expressed his delight in being back, especially on International Sunday. Rev. Ziherambere noted that “In America they have everything even watches but they don’t have time, but in Africa we don’t have watches but we have time,” as the congregation laughed loudly.
Using Revelation 7:9-13 as a frame of reference for his sermon, Rev. Ziherambere said he wanted to make it clear that in 1782, 32 years before “Jackson sailed to Burma” in the year 1814, a black missionary had already travelled to Jamaica and established a missionary there.
He said missionaries from Jamaica would later journey to Liberia and the Cameroons to establish missions. “Sierra Leon is to the UK what Liberia is to the US,” he says. “During 1790 to 1820 there were 70 Black missionaries serving in Africa,” said Rev. Ziherambere, “but they were evicted because it was colonial times and the white missionaries realized that Africa had strong people and rich resources so they had to get these blacks out because they would empower the natives too much.”
The congregation was enthralled with his story with some persons even taking notes. He quickly added that those missionaries who returned to America were refused visas to return to Africa. “The USA was complicit in not issuing passports to anyone who wanted to serve.”
As a result he says, during his generation there were no black missionaries in Africa. This was so he says, because they were suppressed. He says, “As far as Africans were concerned, God could not send a Black African to minister unto them because nothing good could come out of Africa.”
So powerful was the brainwashing he says. He told the story of not being able to take an African name at his baptism when he was 12 years old. “I had to take a European name or a name out of the bible,” he shared.
Rev. Ziherambere wanted everyone to know that Judy Smith, a black woman from New Jersey journeyed to Rwanda to empower the people of that country and that is how he came to be. His presentation was powerful and appropriate for the International Day celebration. The service closed out with a reggae-styled, “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands.”