Historic Black church celebrates 246 years of service

Certificate Of Appreciation to Bridge Street Girl Scouts: From left, Yvonne Anderson, leader, Rev. David Cousin and scouts Enasia Smith, Dyvonnya Viola, Destiny Thompson and Jadore Hampton.
Photo by Lem Peterkin

The African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church (also known as Bridge Street AWME Church) which traces its roots back to 1766 celebrated its 246th Church Anniversary on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012.

The AWME Church is documented as the oldest continuing black congregation in Brooklyn-Long Island with a history of 10 years before the forming of the Republic.

In June 1997, the Reverend David Byron Cousin, Sr., was appointed the 60th pastor of this unique and historic congregation. Guest preacher for this milestone event was Bishop James R.Chambers, senior minister of Greater Saint Mary Church of Christ, Brooklyn, New York.

Miss Syndey Shynelle George and Master Asa Muhammad delivered a stirring and heartfelt welcome at the 11:00 a.m. service. Each year, Deloris McKenzie, chairperson of the Bridge Street Christian Education Department coaches each child.

The hymns of Zion (anthems, gospel) were sung by the United Voices of Praise, under the direction of Yolanda Clark and Minister of Music, Dr. Keith M. Proctor; and the Hanifah Children’s Choir, under the direction of Joann Griffin, lifted their angelic voices in song bringing the congregation to its feet.

During the service, there was a memorial tribute for those who transitioned since the 2011 Anniversary Celebration. Included in this year’s tributes were: Bishop Richard Allen Hildebrand, the 57th pastor of Bridge Street AWME Church who went on to become a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Deaconess Louise Bostic, Junior Steward Eunice Gray; Stewardesses Helen Benefield, Ethelyne H. Lewis and Marie Lue Lee; former Chairperson of the Board of Trustees,Dwellie H. Benefield; and Clifford Terry,former director of the Bridge Street Chancel Choir.

In addition, a prayer was asked for Cissy Houston, her family and The New Hope Baptist Church family in the passing of Whitney Houston. CissyHouston and the New Hope Baptist Church Choir performed in concert at Bridge Street several times and Whitney accompanied the choir and sang on one occasion.

Phyllis Hurd, an employee of the Bridge Street Development Corporation the manager of the Bridge Street Senior Residence was also remembered in prayer.

The Bridge Street Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. This year, the Girl Scouts are celebrating their 100th year of Girl Scouting – a large contingent of Girl Scouts attended the service. Pastor Cousin presented them with a Certificate of Appreciation for their participation in the service and congratulated them on their 100th anniversary.

Courtesy of The African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church

Rev. David Cousin (right) presented the Youth of the Year Award to Kyra M. Brown.
Photos by Lem Peterkin
Photo by Lem Peterkin

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