In the autumn of 1926, the Gary Community Church was organized with Dr. H.L.P. Jones serving as the first minister. After several years, he resigned to undertake a special assignment from one of the Methodist Bishops. The Reverend C.O. Green’s pastorate followed and under his energetic leadership, the membership grew rapidly. When Reverend Green was called to ministerial duties at the Methodist-owned Lafon Home of the Aged in New Orleans, Reverend Lee Merritt was installed, but he was called to a larger congregation downstate. For a brief time, Dr. Ida Mae Miller, once Assistant Minister of Chicago’s Metropolitan Community Church, ministered to the Gary Community Church.
Later Reverend W.T. Paulk became the new minister and the work of the church moved splendidly. He was followed by Reverend E.G. Johnson, a young Baptist minister, who served until the beginning of World War II. Reverend Johnson moved to California and a dynamic Presbyterian minister, Reverend E. Everett Lewis, served the Church until he moved to a larger pastoral charge in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. At that time, Reverend Fredrick Woodson, another Baptist minister, came and remained until January 1949.
The Church appealed to Luther Moore, a charter member, to find a minister. It is said that this outstanding contractor/businessman was largely responsible for the church remaining at the most sought after corner in the central district, 25th Avenue and Madison Street. Mr. Moore contacted Dr. Joseph M. Evans, a charter member and minister of our Mother Church, Metropolitan Community Church of Chicago. Dr. Evans was also an officer of the International Council of Community Churches, and he sent his secretary and associate, Reverend Theodore Richardson to Gary on Sunday, January 30, 1949.
For nearly five months, Reverend Richardson sought the Lord’s guidance to be sure it was his Will that he accept the responsibility of this parish and on May 11, 1949, Dr. Evans installed Reverend Theodore Richardson as pastor of the Gary Community Church.
From 1926 to 1949 the city had known this church by three 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, Reverend Richardson moved that they name the church one more time. Three Saint’s names were presented and it was agreed we would be called St. Timothy Community Church.
In less than three years, St. Timothy flourished and rose above the basement structure which had served as the sanctuary since 1929. By the faith and determination of the small “Building Fund Committee” with Lydia Ewell as President, and many loyal supporters, construction began with Luther Moore as contractor. The new sanctuary of St. Timothy Community Church was dedicated September 9, 1951 that it might become a “permanent home for the message of salvation.”
Reverend Richardson left St. Timothy in 1953 to return to Metropolitan Community Church in Chicago. Consequently for a period of about two years, the church was left without a minister. The congregation began to dwindle as many found other church homes. With the strength of God and many visiting ministers, a faithful few stayed and carried on to the best of their abilities.
Dr. Merrill Booker came to St. Timothy from Dallas, Texas and spent two years. As he moved on to Chicago, the church was once again in dire need of leadership.
God answered the prayers of his loyal few through the ever faithful Mrs. Evelyn James. She invited Pastor Robert Lowery of Coppin Memorial A.M.E. in Chicago to St. Timothy’s pulpit. After his initial sermon in September 1957, the towering figure of Robert Lowery was welcomed with open arms as the 11th church Pastor.
Truly God had a bright future planned for St. Timothy. The church and its programs have prospered tremendously. Much has been accomplished to expand St. Timothy’s capabilities to the parishioners and community. Additionally, the parsonage was built and aesthetic qualities of both the sanctuary and lower level were improved. Parking facilities were enlarged in 1965 when Mrs. Jessie Drake acquired the adjacent 25 foot lot and deeded it the church.
In the early 1970’s, it became quite evident that St. Timothy’s membership had once again expanded beyond the existing building’s capacity. Consequently, a building fund was established to purchase land and build a brand new church. The vision was cultivated and the “Miracle on 25th Avenue” grew into fruition on Easter Sunday, March 30, 1986, with groundbreaking ceremonies for a 900-member house of worship, fellowship hall, and catering service. Fourteen years of fundraisers, prayer, and God’s divine intervention, culminated in a triumphant march on Sunday, September 9, 1990, down 25th Avenue as the membership entered its new church home at 1600 West 25th Avenue.
Under Pastor Lowery’s leadership, Reverend Nathan Ginn served 13 years as Associate Minister until 2001. 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, 49 years. His powerful messages of God were taught through the inspired deliverance of the well-chosen word, punctuated by the relevance of his unique lifestyle and underlined by the magnificence of the music.
Dr. Lowery enjoyed the support of a loving congregation and earned the respect of a variety of organizations within and outside of the church. He graciously accepted many commendations for his service to the community by saying, “God is indeed good” and “The Lord’s Blessings.” A favorite greeting for everyone he encountered was “How’s your spirit?” and upon being asked how he was doing, with a smile his usual response was “things are looking up.”
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, our beloved Servant of God transitioned from mortal life to life eternal on July 10, 2007, just two months before the grand celebration in his honor that had been planned for September. As a memorial tribute, 25th Avenue from Broadway to Taft was re-named and bears the name of “Rev. Dr. Robert E. Lowery Drive”. He remains forever in the hearts of his family, church family, Gary area community and friends everywhere.
Upon the recommendation of the Board of Trustees, and with the unanimous endorsement of the congregation, in November 2007, Rev. Dr. Alfred Johnson became our twelfth church pastor. He was ceremoniously installed on April 27, 2008 by Rev. Michael Livingston, Executive Director of ICCC and welcomed with open arms and hearts as the new Shepherd of our flock. The congregation is enjoying innovative spiritual programs and expanded Christian fellowship under his leadership, with a primary focus on and inclusion of our church and community youth, who will be our leaders of tomorrow.
Let the archives of St. Timothy Community Church show that the information for this historical accounting was collected by Mrs. Emery King and Mr. James A. Rickman with additional details supplied by Ms. Ernestine Campbell, Ms. Betty L. Cody, Mrs. JoAnn Hall-Evans, Mr. Steven Harper, Ms. Joyce Hite, Dr. Charlotte Horton, Rev. Dr. Robert Lowery, Dolena Mack, and Kellauna Mack-Jackson. Remarks by Reverend Theodore Richardson were extracted from the September 9, 1951 publication, “In Celebration of the Dedication of the New Sanctuary of St. Timothy Community Church.”