“A work of Grace”

Good Tidings Christian Brethren Assembly located at 345 Malcolm X Boulevard, Brooklyn, New York, traces its 90 plus-years of history to a small cottage meeting held on December 22, 1918 at 136 Third Avenue in Brooklyn, then the home of the late Thomas and Elizabeth Ellis.

There a few believers originally from the Caribbean, met for prayer and bible study. At that time they worshipped with an assembly on 13th Street comprised largely of Caucasian believers. But they had seen fellow blacks in their own neighborhood as a whitened field ready for harvest. They yearned to reach them with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ yet felt an overwhelming sense of inadequacy for the task. So with burdened hearts they sought God’s face for His enabling.

Little did they know the great work that God would begin to do in and through them. John Byron Hunte one of the originators of the effort, later described it as “the beginning of a work of grace in Brooklyn.” As they continued to meet in Bible study and prayer, God began to move mightily in their midst. Backsliders came under conviction and were restored, and souls were being saved. Among the earliest fruits of this Spirit-empowered work were Albertha Herbert and Alexander Weeks who later got married, and became stalwarts of the faith.

At first the group met monthly on first Sundays while they continued to fellowship with the 13th Street Assembly. Later leaving that assembly they began meeting weekly from house to house. In April 1919 they rented a small “store-front” at 160 Third Avenue. There a Sunday School was started on April 20, with six children. Three weeks later on Sunday May 11, the group celebrated the Lord’s Supper for the first time with ten believers breaking bread – total in attendance 14. The young assembly was given the right hand of fellowship by the brethren of Grace Gospel Chapel in Harlem. The Grace Brethren were of substantial help to them, not only in financial assistance but in the ministry of the word as well. Thus was the work in Brooklyn greatly strengthened. Some of the early elders were: John B.Hunte, Thomas Ellis, Joseph Griffith, George Jilkes, James E. Herbert and George Phillips.

By the end of that year, the membership had increased to 79 saints. On November 24, 1919 they relocated to a larger building at 169 Third Ave. There they remained deepening and broadening the work for the next 20 years but not without trials in the midst of triumphs. During 1920 to 1923 was described by Historian J.B. Hunte as “a period of great joy and sorrow.” Their joy was to see “a great many confess faith in Christ, become baptized and continue in fellowship. Their sorrow was having to part company with some who, due to unresolved doctrinal differences felt obliged to separate themselves from the assembly.

During 1930 to 1940 this Assembly in cooperation with the Grace Fel1owship, undertook extensive open-air preaching efforts, extending their witness as far as Queens and New Jersey. God blessed their labor with much fruit which resulted in the establishing of two assemblies – Corona in Queens, and Montclair in New Jersey. On November 26, 1930 the assembly sent out its first missionary couple – Brother and Sister Charles Lowe who labored in St. Vincent and Barbados for many years where the Lord used them to establish several assemblies.

In the spring of 1933 the sisters of the assembly began meeting for prayer on the first and third Wednesdays of each month – a practice that continues to this day. They also formed a Dorcas group, sewing garments for distribution to the needy. An annual Sunday School bus outing initiated by Sister Miriam Scott in those early days, was to become an event greatly anticipated and enjoyed by all, continuing even today. In 1938 Brother Hunte started a Young People’s Bible Class which was of great help particularly to the brothers, in “rightly dividing the word of truth.”

During the period 1940 – 1950 the fellowship continued to increase not only by way of conversions but also by additions due to immigration of believers from the Caribbean. Relocation was again becoming necessary. Thus when the Old Globe Theatre located at 7-9 Sumpter Street became available, the premises were obtained with the help of Brother John Wilson and the building was refurbished. This became the saints’ new church-home for many years. The Assembly became incorporated as the “Good Tidings Gospel Hall” in April 1940, as suggested by Brother Thomas Ellis. The Elders then were: John B. Hunte, Thomas Ellis, Joseph Griffith, Donald Robinson, George Berry, William Cox, William Lane, Joseph Welch, and Theodore Edghill.

During 1950 and 1960, several brethren left the assembly for the mission field: In December 1953 Alexander and Albertha Weekes answered the call for full-time service in Barbados. In February 1955, Brothers Hunte and Joseph Duguid started their missionary journeys to the western parts of the United States and to islands of the West Indies. In 1956 the basement was excavated to provide a lower auditorium to accommodate a growing Sunday School, and to serve as fellowship hall for social events.

By 1969 the need for further building expansion was again becoming evident and the elders and trustees established a building fund. In 1972 Good Tidings received tax-exempt status. Around that time also they received notification from the City that their locale was slated for Urban Renewal. This necessitated either that they relocate or refurbish the building. Talks of Urban Renewal continued on and off for another decade during which, the Assembly continued fund raising activities while they patiently awaited the Lord’s leading. Also during the year 1972 Cyril and Mildred Murray left for Barbados (Cyril’s native land) as full time workers.

In August 1983 God most graphically demonstrated His favor toward this “work of grace” by inspiring the owner of the White Meat Packing Company on Marion Street at the comer of Fulton Street and Reid Avenue (now Malcolm X Boulevard), to give the Assembly the deed to his property. The saints, greatly rejoicing in answered prayer, accepted the offer, and plans for a new construction quickly ensued. Cogan Industry Builders Company was contracted, and ground-breaking ceremony for the new building was held on November 6, 1983. The edifice comprised of a 400 person capacity sanctuary and an adjoining fellowship hall of approximately the same size, was completed on July 25, 1985. The Elders during this period were: Frederick Pilgrim, Granville Salmon, Theophilus Cato, Justin Mason, Alfred Fox, Roy Sixto, Andrew Esdelle, Hugh Wood, Rudolph Jackson and Patson Agard. Also during this period Daniel and Linda Latchman were commended (1986) to full-time service in Port St. Lucie area, Florida.

Today this “work of grace” continues at this strategic site in the Fulton Park Community. Good Tidings is engaged in a comprehensive scope of ministries to its membership, the neighborhood, and elsewhere. They include: the Now Magazine, a quarterly publication with a strong evangelistic emphasis, started in 1970; The Good Tidings hour, a weekly gospel broadcast, started in 1975 and heard in the United States and internationally in the Caribbean and via Trans World Radio reaching into Asia, Africa and the Far East; Vacation Bible School occurring in the summer; The Awana Club, an outreach to girls and boys; a vibrant Young People’s Fellowship with a program geared to the spiritual and social development of the Assembly’s young people, and involved in outreach ministry to a nearby Youth Detention Center; Annual Gospel Crusades; a Big Sisters’ group with a mentoring ministry among themselves and to the assembly’s college and high school students; and a Reading Improvement Program catering especially to the youngsters of this needy Bedford Stuyvesant community.

These ministries are in addition to the regular assembly services, including an annual Memorial Day conference, Sister’s Conference, Sunday School and adult Bible classes, monthly men’s and women’s fellowship as well as the weekly schedule of meetings.

There are approximately 275 members in fellowship under the spiritual and administrative guidance of 7 elders, 5 deacons and 9 trustees who needs our constantly pray for God’s wisdom and guidance.