BISHOP HENRY LEE BROWN
Henry Lee Brown was born in Greenville, North Carolina on January 31, 1924. He was the eldest son of Robert C. and Janie Spencer-Brown. He attended Hillside High School along with his brothers, Robert and Charles Brown. At an early age he earned money, helping his mother support the family, with his shoe shine kit. He recalls pulling his little wagon to the community coal pile, digging through for coals that weren’t completely burnt when the family needed fuel for heat.
He had a dream and a desire for advancement. This opportunity came at the age of sixteen. A visiting Aunt, Isabell Spencer, from New Jersey asked if he wanted to go back with her. She was only making small talk, therefore surprised the next morning when he was packed and ready to go. A child proved to be too much for her life style, she attempted to send him home, and he refused. He found a job in a cleaner making five dollars a week and a room with Mrs. Elizabeth Hicks paying one dollar and fifty cents a week for rent. His mother wrote asking him to please come home. At that time there weren’t many telephones, so she sent telegrams. He refused to answer any of them. Being on his own he could do as he desired. One of them was to get a five cents White Owl Cigar, walking down the street smoking. He received a letter from his mother, “You are up there smoking”, he laughs. He continued school and was laughed at by the young boys in the community. He was a decent clean living young man and considered it a blessing when Mrs. Hicks insisted he eat Sunday dinner with her family. He replies, “I got tired of eating a sausage sandwich and drinking Pepsi.” At that time Pepsi had some kick in it. Mrs. Hicks had a daughter and two sons; one he would name his younger son Marcus after. His mother moved to New York, he joined the family, graduating from Rhodes School and enlisted in the Unites States Army.
After completion of military duties, he returned to North Carolina to marry Ernestine G Eings, his childhood sweetheart. He brought his bride back to New York. As newlyweds they were content settling in when Sister Brown discovered she was pregnant and the Landlord did not want children. She then returned to Durham to her parents, there she gave birth to her first son, Spencer. The young Mr. Brown busied himself seeking sufficient shelter. When he found accommodations he returned to Durham to bring back his wife and son.
He was a respected young man, husband, and father; he became active in the community by joining the Methodist Church, singing in the choir and a member of the Trustee Board. He organized one of the largest Boy Scout troops in Harlem, when he was told that, “You are crazy, that’s impossible, it can’t be done.”
One day in 1957 he decided to be a dutiful husband and accompany his wife and children to the United Holy Church of America. He heard the words, “COME UNTO ME ALL YE THAT ARE HEAVY LADEN AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST” Matthew 11:28. After hearing these words he did not return to the Methodist church. There was nothing like this that ever pricked his heart or lifted the burden. The minister walked down the aisle inviting, pleading with him to “Come all ye that are heavy laden.” The words “I will give you rest” directed his feet down the isle. As he walked, the tears flowed. He repented of his sins and began to tarry for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Let us pause and read about the woman of God who with wisdom and integrity was a great inspiration to Bishop Brown, Saints and the Progressive organization. Bishop Brow often says, without the Lord and Shepherd Mother Ernestine G. Eings Brown he could not have made it.
SHEPHERD MOTHER ERNESTINE GLADYS EINGS BROWN
Ernestine Gladys Eings Brown was born to Elvin and Magnolia Eings in Durham, North Carolina on April 26, 1926. An only child, she was taught the responsibilities of life early. She accepted the struggles of life as a challenge to be defeated. She attended Hillside High School and North Carolina College in Durham (North Carolina Central University). Her working experiences included Harsey’s Restaurant in New Jersey and North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company in Durham.
It was a joy to hear Mother Brown speak of early life experiences. When she decided not to return to college, her father stated directly, “You have to find a job” and after finding a job she paid rent.
At the age of twelve she met the future Bishop H.L Brown, they became sweethearts. Their relationship continued when he moved north.
She was a member of the Pentecostal church (United Holy Church of America) in Durham, therefore she knew to seek the Lord for important situations. Believing wholeheartedly in whatever she was a part of, she asked that her name be removed from the church rolls because she wanted to attend movies. “I just want to be real in whatever I do,” she replied.
Knowing marriage to be an important and sacred issue, when the young Mr. Brown asked her to be his bride (neither was saved), she was troubled on the inside as to whether or not this was the man the Lord had chosen for her husband. One day while walking, as she approached a tunnel of underpass, in her heart she prayed, “Lord if this is your will concerning me, when I go through this tunnel and come out on the other side, let my mind be clear.” We praise God, her mind was clear. Many times through her teachings or private talks, she would admonish us to be very careful when considering marriage. “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” Matthew 19:6b
The couple married April 22, 1946, on Easter Monday, soon afterwards moving north taking up residence in one-room efficiency.
They had their first son, Spencer. Marcus would follow and Wanda.
Whenever she felt a void or longing in her life, she knew to seek the Lord. One day standing, looking out her kitchen window and praying in her heart, she began to speak in tongues as the Spirit of God gave utterance. Marcus, her youngest son, witnessed this event by saying, “Mommy, I didn’t know you could speak Mexican.” Their lives began to change; she attended The New Covenant Temple Church in New York City, which was a part of the organization she attended as a young girl. Joining the choir under the leadership of Professor Delmar Burk, she studied sacred and operatic music, what a beautiful voice! As a member of the prayer group, many times she annoyed her husband when they prayed in their home because he had to go to work. There were times he threatened to throw them out because they were eating his food. She was a great cook; Bishop Brown often spoke of her dried beef casseroles. Once as she was leaving a prayer service, the Lord healed her of Rheumatic Fever.
Regina McKnight entered their lives and home and was a year older than Wanda and a sister, companion, and a foster daughter. Mother Brown was an inspiration to those around her. Adorned with a meek and quiet spirit. In later years, she taught individuals or groups of women how to be submissive to their husbands and the Lord. She shared with her husband an unfailing love for the Lord with steadfastness in doing his will. Standing firm in her beliefs; when least expected would rebuke you, then put her arms around you with a kiss and whisper, “I love you,” without taking down.
Bishop Brown said Mother Brown’s family taught her principles. His family taught him, if you didn’t get along with your companion, leave him. He said that before they got saved, Sister Brown would go toe to toe with him in arguments. She would stand in his face and they almost rubbed noses. The Lord saved her before him. He knew there was a change, because he couldn’t get her to argue with him. Once he threatened to pack his bags and leave. She told him, the children and I are going with you. He didn’t leave.
Avoiding the limelight, she was a writer for the Progressive Chronicle, also a staff member, President of the Senior Missionary, president of the Young Missionary Department, overseer of the Married Ladies Council, in charge of Women’s Day and quarterly sisterhood sessions, as well as Senior High Sunday School teacher. Yes, out of all of this she avoided the limelight. Many times she helped get the work started, then with the Bishop’s permission, put it in the hands of a capable saint.
Mother Brown was with the Pastor on many occasions when business was transacted regarding the church. When the Pastor spoke, she agreed, “Yes Pastor, yes Pastor.” Proving her submission and helping to maintain the spiritual and physical growth of the Progressive organization. A prayer warrior, obedient to God, she walked a distance to open the doors of noonday prayer. She purchased the food and prepared waffle dinners in the home for the Young Missionaries, donating the money to the church.
Her love for God and the church was genuine. Shortly before her death she shared with me how she had written a church on the radio and asked them to pray for progressive, giving them the situation of a small and struggling church, newly baptized in Jesus’ Name. Being grateful to the Lord and them, as she realized the Lord’s blessings it was her intentions to write and thank them. May the blessings of the Lord continue with them as they continue in Christ.
Bishop Brown often said without the Lord and Mother Brown he could not have made it. Faithfully she stood by his side. As a wise mother in Christ when the time came for Bishop Brown to be absent from the pulpit in Hempstead, due to the opening of Progressive in Durham, North Carolina, she stayed behind to encourage the saints; for we did miss our father in the Gospel very much.
A spiritual pillar in the church, a warrior of faith and prayer, and an example of a virtuous woman, standing throughout the years faithfully by her husband’s side. A Christian role model for the womanhood everywhere. She was a woman of sound and profound thought, realizing and supporting the work the Lord had given her husband. She never exceeded him in any form or fashion, but with his sanctions she improved the organ of the church with bulletins and hymns on Sunday mornings. She recognized some of the problems, insights, and needs of the saints; before they reached Bishop Brown; they often came to her for counseling. When beyond her control she referred you to Bishop Brown.
Once she was asked to explain the Progressive Organization, her reply, “A MAN OF GOD, WAS SENT BY GOD, TO DO A WORK FOR GOD.”
I consider it a privilege and honor to have worked with Mother Brown for many years. She talked about her life, spiritual and natural. It has helped my life to endure, truly very encouraging.
Bishop Brown described Mother Brown as “Big in stature, yet humble in spirit.” When asked about their life together in 1980 she wrote: (As you read, the genuine love of her character is felt.)
AS MY HUSBAND
“We were married in April 22, 1946 in Gospel Tabernacle Durham, N.C. at 8:00PM. This was an Easter Monday. Tuesday night we left for New York and a new life. We had such plans and I believed with him that we would achieve great things. We shared a room with everything in it; nevertheless it was wonderful because we were together.
My husband was a very strong willed person who desired the better things in life, better things for me, and better things for our children.
His first job after being in the Armed Forces was in a factory that dyed feathers. The salary was small, but we managed. The same year Spencer (no. 1 son) was born, he went into the postal service. This was the beginning of the upward climb.
In December 1949 we moved into Abraham Lincoln projects in Manhattan, after much perseverance on my husband’s part. Our family grew and we had bad times and good times and I thank God for both, for they taught me many needed lessons.”
“Surely God has his will and way in our lives. He began to move in our lives. The need for salvation was urgent. As the Lord began to woo us we surrendered to his will and we were saved.
My husband has always been a good man, one who is extremely hones and has a go forward spirit. He never believes anything wrong about people not unless God shows him differently. Being completely honest, he never suspects that a person could be crooked. These qualities are an asset to him in his ministerial work.
God called him to be a minister early one morning and gave me to know this the same day; telling me what I must do to help my husband. My desire has been toward my husband in all things, and above all else.
My husband, my Pastor and a man of God deserves honor for being a dedicated servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank God, He gave him to me, to love and honor and obey, to death do us part…..”
On April 30, 1990, at South Nassau Community Hospital in Oceanside, New York, our beloved Shepherd Mother Ernestine Gladys Eings Brown departed this life after a brief illness.
HONOR FOR MOTHER ERNESTINE BROWN
1994 Opening of the Ernestine G. Brown Daycare Center in Durham, N.C. and the unveiling of a plaque outside of the Daycare.
1997 Dedication of the chimes in Hempstead, N.Y.
1998 Renovated the Junior Chapel and on January 25, it was dedicated as the Ernestine G. Brown (EGB) Chapel in Hempstead, N.Y.
HER MEMORY WILL LINGER WITHIN OUR HEARTS AND CAN NEVER BE ERASED.
CALLED TO THE MINISTRY
By Bishop Brown’s testimony, we learn that he was called to the ministry before he was filled with Holy Ghost. He was driving his mail truck one morning when the Lord spoke to him calling him to preach the gospel. Sister Brown was not surprised because the Lord had already spoken to her as that she was to be the wife of a pastor. He said it was very embarrassing being called minister and he wasn’t saved, neither was he allowed in the pulpit. The only thing he could do in the church was menial chores such as clean, paint, and cut the lawn. This standard has been maintained throughout the Progressive Organization, that no one can hold office or perform duties without repenting of their sins, being baptized in Jesus’ Name and being filled with the Holy Ghost.
Missionary V. Walker
Typed by Jr. Missionary P. Phillips