Photos by Tom Rivers-The Rev. Eddie English, pastor of The Lord’s House in Waterport, and his wife Rose greet church attendees on Sunday following a church service.
WATERPORT – A congregation that started a decade ago remains committed and optimistic in serving God and helping the Orleans County community.
The Rev. Eddie English, pastor of The Lord’s House, is grateful for the church’s first 10 years, and the way many people have stepped forward to work with the church, particularly with renovations of a former United Methodist building in Waterport.
The Lord’s House started a decade ago when English and his wife Rose succeeded Ella Mae and Le Roy Hawkins, who ran the Faith Power Mission next to their home on Root Road in Barre.
English said he prayed about the church’s future, and felt led to bring The Lord’s House to storefront on East Bank Street in Albion. The Lord’s House opened in downtown Albion in 2007, with prayer meetings, Bible studies and Sunday church services.
Rose and Eddie English are pictured outside The Lord’s House at 2038 Eagle Harbor Rd. The church acquired the former United Methodist building in Waterport at an auction in 2011.
The Lord’s House was cramped on East Bank Street in Albion. Eddie English felt God leading the congregation to a bigger building, a former United Methodist site in Waterport, a church building that had been vacant for 20 years.
English attended the county’s tax auction, when properties with several years of back taxes are put up for sale. It was May 2011, and The Lord’s House bought the building for $500, plus $2,500 in back taxes.
The building was in disrepair, in need of major repairs. English was called a fool by some in the community. Some church members also were skeptical about moving to a building out on the country that needed so much work.
English, with help from church members and some local residents, worked diligently to make the building ready for worship services. They painted, upgraded electric and plumbing, and put in a new bathroom, an outside ramp, a new pulpit and other improvements.
Eddie English stands in the sanctuary of The Lord’s House in this photo taken looking out from the pulpit with an open Bible.
Eddie and Rose English believe the efforts to redeem a building that was left to rot is a metaphor for how God can transform any life, including people scorned by society.
“When people come here they will feel love,” English said. “Here it is God led. We hope people will see what is going on and that we’re progressing.”
There are about 30 regulars for Sunday services, but English said that sometimes grows to 60 when farmworkers, including many Jamaicans, are in the area working at fruit and vegetable farms. The church plans to take the Jamaicans up on their offer to help with building repairs, play in the worship band and help as ushers. English uses a church van to pick up many of the farmworkers and some other church attendees.
English said there is a lot of work remaining. He wants to create a fellowship hall in the basement and also a room for people to do homework, or check the Internet.
The building could use more fresh paint to improve the looks.
“People see a lot of work has been done,” English said. “We’re bringing back something that was dead. It was an eyesore.”
Willie Graham, an elder at The Lord’s House, speaks from the pulpit this past Sunday.
English felt called to the ministry about a decade ago. He had a full-time job as a head cook at the Margaret House, a child care center at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He had been a deacon for about 25 years at the Royal Church of God in Christ in Carlton, where his brothers-in-law, William Morrell Washington and Mark Washington, are leaders.
When they started the church, Mrs. English was working as a public relations executive for the RIT Inn and Conference Center. She now serves as administrator for The Lord’s House. The couple has been married for 38 years and has three grown children.
Their daughter Angela heads up the youth ministry, including a liturgical dance team that has performed in Tampa, Fla. at a conference for the Church of God in Christ denomination. The dancers regularly are part of the church service at The Lord’s House.
Olivia Peterson, 7, practices as part of the liturgical dance team following church on Sunday. Her grandfather is the church pastor.
English admits the church restoration hasn’t always been easy. He has sometimes doubted himself and the call to take on the project. When he feels low, he said God comes through. One time a stranger showed up and handed him $2,000 to help with a new furnace.
Other donations and help have arrived including a Henrietta church that gave The Lord’s House a pulpit, communion table, sliding doors and a refrigerator. English said the gifts, often unsolicited, strengthen his resolve and faith.
“I have learned so much as I have taken this journey,” he said Sunday. “Sometimes I didn’t know which way to turn and the burden became heavy. Every time I wanted to throw up my hands and quit, a still small voice told me, ‘I cleaned you up and now I want you to clean up this church.'”
Eddie English preaches on Sunday.
Some of the church members who were originally skeptical of the move to take on the Waterport church now praise English, and thank you for following that vision, and for being so committed.
“We had a small membership, and some people didn’t think we could do it,” English said. “People wanted to take a chance, but there was fear. By faith we’re trying to be a light in the community.
The church has Sunday School from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m., followed by worship from 10:30 to about noon.
Eddie and Rose English are often at the church on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the evenings. They said they would welcome a chance to give residents a tour of the building on those days, or on a Sunday.
The church has a Facebook page (click here) with more information.