Standing in front of the Lee Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) church at Cordell and Beaver in Brownwood, Draco Miller named some of the churches in the neighborhood.
Miller, a business owner who serves on the Brownwood City Council and is founder of the organization known as Revitalizing Our Community (ROC), knows the neighborhood well. It’s where he grew up.
“You’ve got Mount Zion Baptist Church,” Miller said. “You’ve got Little Zion Baptist Church. You’ve got Emanuel Church. You’ve got A.M.E. right here. You’ve got Church of Christ on the corner. Then you’ve got Greater Faith.
“Just in the community of churches where we were raised, there are seven churches in that community. Back when we were growing up, you would see tons of people walking to different churches, respecting each other. It was a great spiritual time back then.”
Miller is not a member of the A.M.E. church, but he knows the building needs improvements and remodeling. And he knows how small the congregation has become.
ROC has helped accomplish numerous other community improvement projects, and the organization is interested in helping the A.M.E. church after it finishes its current project — helping with improvements at Wiggins Park, Miller said.
“After we get Wiggins Park done, this was a project here that we wanted to embark upon, to see if we could help out in raising money,” Miller said.
Miller wasn’t ready to say how much ROC can do for the church or how much money can be put into the building.
While the church needs an upgrade, Miller said, it might not be realistic to pour large amounts of money into improvements.
“I want to sit back with the pastor here and the congregation and the deacons, just to see what they want, what their version is, how they want to see this in the near future,” Miller said. “And then from that point, we will go from there.”
Miller said the church is a community icon and “we need to refurbish at least the outside to still make it presentable and for those members who come here, because it is their church,” Miller said.
“The congregation is so small right now, it’s going to need some help. It’s going to need some community help, it’s going to need some preservation help.”
Miller said while his family has never attended the A.M.E. church, he grew up around it.
“My grandmother lived right next door to this church,and this is where we actually grew up here,” Miller said. “I was born in 1962. All of us used to play around this church.
“Several ministers that came through this church went to school with us. This wasn’t a church that my family attended because we attended Little Zion Baptist Church. We were all around here all the time. This church here has been here for a long time and it served a purpose.”
Miller said a cousin, Dige Hamilton, was among the church’s pastors. A deacon in the church was one of Miller’s employees, he said.
Miller believes the church can continue to operate.
“I want to be very, very proactive with this in saying one day this church will turn around and there will be more members coming in, attending this church once again,” Miller said.