HAPPY 90th Anniversary!
HAPPY 90th Anniversary!
Park Road Community Church was organized June 7, 1931, in the home of Rev. Oscar L. Rand, 1244 Columbia Road, NW, Washington, DC. This action was taken because Bishop J. S. Caldwell, presiding bishop at the annual conference held at Wesley AME Zion Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, May 1931, failed to comply with the request of the trustees of Trinity AME Zion Church to return their pastor, Rev. Oscar L. Rand. Rev. Rand made an inspiring talk about the sacrifices that would have to be made in order to organize and build a new church. He included that ridicule and criticism would be expected.
We went to work with God as our leader. Rev. Rand used as his first text, “Stand Fast in the Faith, quite you like men, be strong.” The following week a committee was formed to find a place to worship. Our church, located at 1019 Park Road, NW, was purchased at a cost of $20,000 with an initial payment of $1000, which was raised in 30 days. On August 1, 1931 we took possession of our property (a basement structure) and held our first service. Rev. Rand used as a subject, “A Strong Foundation.” We had a strong faith and believed God would lead us to greater victories.
The first trustee board included Brother Edward Lloyd, Chairman; Brother James McMahon, Co-Chairman; Brother Mervin Jones, Secretary; Sister Daisey McClary, Financial Secretary; Brother Arthur Hazel, Treasurer; Brother William Lowery; Brother Henry Cooper; Brother Wilson Brown, and Sister Florence Bryson. The membership consisted of 37. We selected as the name of our church, Independent Methodist and affiliated ourselves with the Kodesh Church of Immanuel of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and remained in the organization until 1935. In 1936, we renamed our church Park Road Community Church and affiliated ourselves with The Council of Community Churches. On August 4, 1945 we burned our mortgage which gave us greater courage to continue to try to make Park Road Community Church shine.
Rev. Rand sang “Park Road Is Going to Shine” on many occasions while we worked, hoped, prayed, and looking forward to the day when we would be able to complete the building. In addition to growing the congregation of Park Road Community Church, Rev. Rand was also one of two Vice Presidents of the National Council of Community Churches, now called the ICCC. When the predominately white and black bodies merged in 1950, the National Council of Community Churches became one of the most integrated church bodies in America. Even though it was Rev. Rand’s desire to complete the building, he was not physically able to accomplish it. He, therefore, retired in March of 1953. Rev. Vernon Claire Sherman, the second pastor, served from March 1953 to June 1955. He was a gifted speaker. Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” For Rev. Sherman it was not his destiny to lead the Church into a brighter tomorrow; therefore, it was necessary to call another leader.
Rev. John T. Kellman of Bermuda was the third pastor. He possessed a very pleasing personality and introduced constructive and spiritual plans for uplifting God’s work. He organized The Editorial Staff. Mr. Andrew Briscoe, one of the charter member, was Editor-in-Chief, and Mr. Levi Dudley was Assistant Editor-in-Chief. Their work has been outstanding inasmuch as we have been able to save a significant amount of money by printing our own bulletins. An organ was purchased at the cost of $6,000. Rev. Kellman saw fit to tender his resignation after serving from July 1957 to March 1959.
Rev. Louis Miller of Washington, DC was the fourth pastor. The membership was greatly increased. On May 1962, Ground Breaking Ceremonies were held with Rev. Nelson Pierce officiating and a larger kitchen and a pastor’s study were added to the Church. A new choir loft was built. The annex was torn down, and a parking lot was constructed. In March 1964 a Testimonial was held honoring two of the charter members, Deacon James McMahon and Deacon Arthur Hazel. Deacon Hazel served as treasurer from 1931 to September 1963. Due to ill health, Rev. Miller was forced to submit his resignation after serving from March 1959 to November 1967.
Rev. Eugene W. Burton, Sr. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was called as the fifth pastor in June 1968 and was installed in November of 1968. He willingly accepted the call, knowing that the challenge was great. The youth of our Church have always been recognized as the Church of tomorrow and have, through the years, promoted activities that will enable them to successfully lead the Church of tomorrow. Rev. Burton recognized in youths their desire to become more useful in our Church; therefore, he organized the Gospel Stars musical group. This was in keeping with the dream that had always been in the hearts of the founder as well as the other members who have joined to complete the makeup of Park Road Community Church. Rev. Burton named Mr. John W. Sutton as Chairman of the Building Committee and Deacon James McMahon as his Co-chairman. We looked to Mr. Sutton as a gifted man of God who never grew tired of giving his service, guidance and his finance in order to pilot us to success. His Co-chairman, Deacon McMahon, along with Mrs. Mamie Smith, said to Rev. Rand in 1931, “Let us set forth plans to build a Church for God.” After considerable negotiations, Mr. Sutton acquired the services of Bryant & Bryant as our architects and Furman Builders as out contractor. Our enthusiasm and our determination grew as we promoted many benefits, and each sacrifice became a pleasure. We were thankful that our prayers were being answered in every manner. Mr. Sutton served as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for over 40 years. Mr. Lester Barry also served on the Board for over 30 years.
God truly opened up his windows and showered us with the divine blessings. We excavated our premises in December 1970. Construction began during the last week of January 1971. On December 5, 1971, worship began in the beautiful edifice constructed at a cost of $286,000 with all of the modern conveniences. The basement floor includes a fellowship hall (the former sanctuary, which was used for worship); five classrooms; an office; a library and reading room; a kitchen; a lounge; storage space; and three restrooms.
The first floor includes the Stewardess Room; the Pastor’s study and restroom; the Church Clerk’s office, the Board Room; the Choir Room and a small Chapel, which will seat approximately 25 individuals; three other restrooms; and the main sanctuary, which seats about 264 and 80 choir members. The pulpit is equipped with an emersion pool for baptismal ceremonies. After Deacon James McMahon (one of the charter members) cut the ribbon, we marched in with all of the founders leading, the Pastor, officers, and all five choirs following, singing, “We Have Come This Far By Faith.” In our moments of gratitude, we knelt at the dedicated altar realizing that men and women who built these walls and whose heritage was given to us kept the faith and honored the Almighty Father who made everything possible.
In 1981, we celebrated our 50th Anniversary. A magnificent service was held culminating with the burning of the mortgage on our church. Since then many improvements have been made to our church structure. We have renovated the fellowship hall and kitchen. A new women’s lounge was added with new furnishings, and we acquired the apartment building next to the church. In addition, two houses were purchased and sold in the 1000 block of Park Road. Our membership continues to grow.
Rev. Eugene W. Burton, Sr., empowered the membership of the Park Road Community Church to improve several areas of church life. He placed great emphasis on the youth and worked to increase those outreach efforts. During his tenure, Rev. Burton instituted the Nutritional Lunch Program. He also organized the church into various ministries and established the Scholarship Ministry for youth and young adults pursuing post-secondary education. Further, he organized several singing groups, including the Gospel Stars and the Women’s Mass Choir. Rev. Burton ordained several ministers including Reverends Alverna Nelson, Albert Sims, Earl B. Day, Shirley B. Cooper, Winston Burton, Carter Garner, and LaSandra Hayes. Minister Quinton Crawford and Reverend Carter Garner also served under his tutelage. Rev. Burton also trained many deacons and deaconesses. He prided himself on serving as a role model for our youth, who aspired to grow as young Christians and improve themselves through formal education. Rev. Burton retired in November of 2009, after leading the congregation for forty-one years – longer than any other pastor.
Prior to retiring, Rev. Burton recommended Rev. Shirley B. Cooper to serve as Interim Pastor until a new leader could be names. The membership affirmed the recommendation, and Rev. Cooper took the reins. Rev. Cooper stepped into the pulpit on November 8, 2009 preaching a fervent and thought-provoking sermon entitled, “We Can Build Up This House.” With that goal in mind, Rev. Cooper executed several initiatives including a focus on the youth ministry. Our youth have now assimilated into the mainstream of our worship services with designated Youth Day on the third Sunday of each month.
Rev. Cooper also worked closely with the Spiritual Committee and the Board of Trustees. During her tenure as pastor, Rev. Cooper licensed and ordained Rev. Joanne L. Mason, ordained Deacon Leonard Tucker, Deaconess Evora Tucker, and Deaconess Marion Bright. She further ordained Deacon Marion Bright, Dea. Melinda McNeil, and Dea. Marilyn Stevenson. In 2015, Rev. Cooper also ordained Rev. Dr. Seretha R. Pearsall and licensed Minister Paul L. Simms, Sr. Additionally, two former deacons, Deacon Leron Pearsall and Deacon Manuel Mackey, renewed their membership at Park Road Community Church and were reinstated to the Board of Deacons during this time.
Over three dozen members, including some former parishioners, have joined the church under Rev. Shirley B. Cooper’s pastorate. During the week of Rev. Cooper’s installation in September 2011, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Sword of Spirit Bible Institute of Washington, D.C.
Rev. Dr. Shirley B. Cooper, a member of Park Road Community Church for over fifty years, also serves as a sturdy link connecting the Columbia Heights community to our church. Through her position with the Development Corporation of Columbia Heights, Rev. Dr. Cooper succeeded in securing a million-dollar loan to renovate the church’s apartment building. After a short illness, Rev. Cooper retired as Pastor of Park Road effective January 2019.
After serving as Assistant to Rev. Cooper during her illness and Interim Pastor for a year; on January 12, 2020, Rev. Dr. Seretha Renee Pearsall was elected as the 7thPastor of Park Road Community Church. Rev Pearsall was officially installed February 29, 2020 – 3 weeks before the church closed its physical doors due to the global pandemic. Rev Pearsall worked with the Officers of the church to ensure Worship Services and ministry efforts continued virtually.
Rev. Pearsall follows the community service vision of the church and has adopted the family oriented worship style of Rev. Eugene W. Burton. With the support of the church, Rev. Pearsall ordained Deacon Keith Stratton and Rev. DeShone Barker, established Intercessory Prayer, Sacred Heart, Hospitality and Wedding Ministries and reconstituted ministries under the Benevolent Ministry. Rev. Pearsall also has been instrumental in Park Road Community Church becoming a member of the Washington, D.C. Area Food Bank.
Park Road Community Church is still, “Standing Fast in the Faith”; and as our founder, Rev. Rand often declared, “Park Road is Going to Shine!”
Rev. Oscar L. Rand - Founder
Rev. Vernon Claire Sherman
Rev. John T. Kellman
Rev. Louis Miller
Rev. Eugene W. Burton
Rev. Dr. Shirley B. Cooper
Rev. Dr. Seretha R. Pearsall
We are still worshipping God in the beauty of holiness via Conference Call and Zoom. Please join us Sunday Mornings at 10:00 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays for 6:00 a.m. prayer, Wednesdays for Mid-week Hour of Power at 7:00 p.m., Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. for Bible Study and every 4th Sunday at 4:30 p.m. for afternoon Worship.
Meeting ID 626 583 4827