By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
Through 12 pastors, two locations and three name changes St. Timothy Community Church has been an icon in the City of Gary for 90 years. Its longevity is being recognized with several months of celebration.
Rosie Washington, chairperson of the 90th anniversary committee at St. Timothy said the church is celebrating its anniversary each month throughout the year. She said, “We started in January and we used the formula of 10 years for 9 months to give us the 90 years. Every month we are doing something different. In January for our initial event we had a minister from Indianapolis who came up with his church to fellowship with us. In February, our young people’s choir did their Black History Program in honor of the 90th anniversary. They highlighted the trailblazers in our church like the honorable Mayor Richard Hatcher, State Senators Earline Rogers and Charlie Brown. We have a number of trailblazers in our church.”
Washington said since Easter is in the month of March, the choir is doing their cantata in recognition of the anniversary. In April they will honor members of the church with 40 plus years of membership. In May a Women’s Day weekend celebration will highlight the anniversary, as well as other months throughout the rest of the year. The closing will be a banquet held on September 24 at the Genesis Convention Center titled “An Evening of Celebration.” Tickets will be $50 per person.
The history of St. Timothy beg-an in the autumn of 1926. The church was first organized with Dr. H.L.P. Jones serving as the first minister under the name “Gary Community Church.” After several years, he resigned and the Reverend C.O. Green followed and the membership grew rapidly.
When Reverend Green was eventually called to ministerial duties in New Orleans, Reverend Lee Merritt was installed. He was later called to a larger congregation downstate. For a brief time, Dr. Ida Mae Miller ministered to the Gary Community Church.
Later Reverend W.T. Paulk became the new minister. Reverend E. G. Johnson, a young Baptist minister, who served until the beginning of World War II, followed him. Reverend Johnson moved to California and a dynamic Presbyterian minister, Reverend E. Everett Lewis, served the church until he moved to North Carolina. At that time, Reverend Fredrick Woodson, another Baptist minister, came and remained until January 1949.
Dr. Joseph M. Evans, an officer of the International Council of Community Churches sent his secretary and associate, Reverend Theodore Richardson to Gary in 1949 as the next pastor of the church.
From 1926 to 1949 the church was known by three different names: Gary Community Church, the original name; Jones Community Church, in honor of the first minister; and Emmanuel Temple Community Church. At the first board meeting with Rev. Richardson presiding, the pastor moved that they name the church one more time. Three names were presented and it was agreed that it would be called St. Timothy Community Church and the new sanctuary was dedicated in 1951.
Reverend Richardson left St. Timothy in 1953, which led to Dr. Merrill Booker coming to St. Timothy for two years. It was after Dr. Booker that Rev. Robert Lowery was invited to pastor St. Timothy. After his initial sermon in September 1957, Rev. Lowery was welcomed with open arms as the 11th church pastor.
In the early 70s, it became quite evident that St. Timothy’s membership had once again expanded beyond the existing building capacity. Consequently, a building fund was established and the groundbreaking for a 900-member house of worship began. On Easter Sunday in 1986 they entered their new church home at 1600 West 25th Avenue.
In May 2003, Reverend Dr. Alfred Johnson began serving as Assistant Pastor of St. Timothy Community Church.
The Reverend Dr. Robert Lowery ministered to St. Timothy longer than any of his predecessors. In 2006 his health began to fail, yet he steadfastly continued to faithfully serve as the church, community and friends around the globe were preparing for his 50th Anniversary celebration as church pastor. Sadly, he passed in 2007. As a memorial tribute, 25th Avenue from Broadway to Taft was renamed and bears the name of Rev. Dr. Robert E. Lowery Dr.
In November 2007, Rev. Dr. Alfred Johnson became the church’s 12th pastor and installed on April 27, 2008.
The oldest member of St. Timothy Community Church is 84-year-old Imogene Edwards. She says she has been a member of St. Timothy for all 84 years of her life. She said, “I was christened when I was three months old and I have been there all my life.” Edwards says her grandfather, Luther J. Moore, was one of the founding members of the church.
Edwards says one of her fondest memories is of her being a member of the church as a child and seeing her grandmother and her aunts making up four of the 10 members of the choir. She said, “I wasn’t a member of the choir then because I was a baby, but I sat in the choir with them.”
Edwards says the best thing about St. Timothy Church is the love the members have for each other. “It’s a large church, but it has a very warm feeling that makes you feel you belong to a family and the members care about each other,” she said.
Edwards said she thinks it’s a beautiful thing that St. Timothy is celebrating its 90th year because it’s a caring church. She said, “Our pastor has said over the years the flock cares about each other and we are very community orientated. We love Gary and we try to make it a place to live and raise your family in.”