Joshua M. Brown Lay Organization
The Joshua M. Brown Lay Organization of St. Stephen A.M.E. Church was organized in 1946 and named for its first president, Dr. Joshua M. Brown. Dr. Brown was a pediatrician who studied at Meharry Medical College in Tennessee (Class of 1914). He resided across the street from the church and treated members of the St. Stephen congregation as well as many residents of Chicago. Dr. Brown practiced medicine for 58 years. Dr. Brown not only served the health needs of his community, but was also an ardent supporter of his church. In reflecting upon the many projects of the 1930’s and 1940’s requiring additional resources for St. Stephen, his pastor, the Rev. Eugene J. Thompson said of Dr. Brown, “In order to carry on these projects, we needed new furnishings for the church parlors. Dr. Joshua Brown proved himself as hero in taking the lead and cooperating with us and getting this work done. Through Dr. Brown we got new carpets, new lighting fixtures, new restroom equipment, new tile, and many other minor things costing more than $2,500 and at no expense to the church. For all of this we are thankful.”
Dr. Joshua M. Brown became the first president of the organized lay members, which was then named, Laymen’s Organization. Dr. Brown passed in 1973 and we will be forever grateful for his generosity and service to our church. As an honor to his legacy, the St. Stephen’s Laymen’s Organization was renamed the Joshua M. Brown Lay Organization. Sterling E. Sutton succeeded the office in 1972 and was a dedicated stalwart as president until he was called to glory in 2001. Anthony Williams took the reins after Bro. Sutton's passing and diligently guided the organization as president until the election in 2013 of yet another pediatrician, Dr. William Corey Jordan. The current president of the Lay Organization is Sis. Tamara D. Steele.
To carry out the objectives of the A.M.E. Lay Constitution in accordance with our A.M.E. Discipline, and bring it to our local Lay while inspiring, challenging, and educating them on its purpose, direction, and meaning. In addition, we raise money for our Sterling E. Sutton Scholarship Fund which assists those seeking to further their education at institutions of higher learning. This supplemental scholarship is primarily funded from contributions made during our annual Lay Day Service, Walk-Jog-Bike-A-Thon and Young Adult Choir concert events.
The Objectives and purpose of the Lay Organization are outlined in its constitution. The main objectives are stated in brief as follows:
- To create a love and appreciation of the History and Principles of African Methodism.
- Keep alive the memory of Richard Allen.
- Respect constituted authority.
- Stimulate and educate the laity in the total program of the Church.
- Study the Discipline and learn the laws of the Church.
- Encourage financial support of the Church's program.
- Teach and practice stewardship. Work with the youth to teach them Methodism.
These objectives can best be met when one works to understand the program of the church and relate the church to the world around us. Become involved in social action such that the church is then, Our Community--Our Job--Our School, and everywhere that man assembles, he carries the church with him.