ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Day or night, when the doors of the church open, the people who walk through are typically searching for something. It could be food, warmth or a spiritual connection.
At 94 years old Evelena Lee is among the oldest members at Aenon Missionary Baptist Church. She explains what lead her through the doors of Aenon.
“So once a month the young adults played basketball,” said a smiling Lee, “so that’s why I joined Aenon. I don’t know how spiritual it was.”
Lee says she was about 17 and had just moved to Rochester with her mother. The mom has fond memories of joining various church ministries and especially helping the young people in the neighborhood.
“Our church was on Oregon Street at the time when I joined.”
She especially enjoyed working with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.
As Aenon prepared to celebrate 100 years in Rochester, Lee explained how church leaders and the entire congregation made everyone feel welcomed over the years. She recalled the various church buildings, renovations and the numerous ministries that served the community. Lee points out a conference room in present day church located on Genesee Street. It is dedicated to her late husband Arthur who served many years as a deacon.
As churches throughout Rochester reflect on a century or more of progress leaders share an urgency to write the vision that addresses the pressing needs of today.
“We gotta roll up our sleeves and come up with new ideas and new strategies,” explains Dr. Cedric Alexander, who served as interim chief for the Rochester Police department in 2005 and deputy mayor for the City of Rochester in 2017.
Alexander will serve as the guest speaker for Aenon’s 100th Anniversary Gala Saturday, November 4th. He says although crime, homelessness, and other social issues are not new, leaders from throughout the community must work together with creativity, compassion and humility.
“Law enforcement can not do it alone. It’s going to take an entire community to do it” he said. “And people will say we’ve heard that message before Dr. Alexander, we’ve got to come together to do this,” he adds, “You’re right we have. You’ve heard the talk but have you really experienced the action of that? That’s the difference,” he explained.
As for Mrs. Lee, she says when Aenon’s church doors open for the 100th Anniversary worship service on November 12th she’ll be thanking God for a lifetime of blessings and the ability to still be driving and enjoying an active life.
“I will probably have a big shouting time” she adds, “To see where God has brought me and how he has blessed me, that’s a lot of years” She smiled reflecting on her own life as well as the church’s longevity.
For more details about Aenon Missionary Baptist Church’s 100th Anniversary, click here.