PUBLISHED SUNDAY NOVEMBER 20, 1997
Copyright 1997 The Pensacola News Journal. All
no benefit of revival
The Brownsville Revival wealth
has not spread to its community.
Within one block of Brownsville Assembly of
God, the signs of poverty, crime and fear are
everywhere: elderly shut-ins living in shacks,
families crowded into dilapidated houses,
prostitutes and drug dealers openly working the
Church leaders have said that the revival has
generated an outreach ministry, but the News
Journal has found that the program is not funded
by the church nor is it an official church
The outreach activity was created by two
out-of-state visitors who came to the revival,
saw the community 's needs and organized a group
of volunteers into Brownsville Revival Blessing
Outreach. It receives its support entirely from
private and business donations, not from the
church or revival revenues. The church does help
by providing storage space.
In 1996 the church had revenue of about $3
million from the revival, based on its own
estimates of $12,500 from each revival service.
Its annual budget for 1996 was $6.6 million, and
it had a year-end cash balance of $1.1 million.
Within sight of the church, an elderly man
lives inside a house where nearly every window
pane is broken or missing. He has no protection
Up and down the streets, bungalows in good
repair stand next to houses that look abandoned
roofs are sagging and walls are caving in and
plaster is mildewed but are home to some of
Pensacola 's neediest.
From within one of the houses, a baby wails. A
door opens and children spill out the front door.
They quickly claim a scattering of worn-out toys
on a dirt lawn. One child sits on a broken
tricycle and pretends to ride.
"I have never seen that church do
anything for this community in the past 2 years.
And I see everything that goes on in this
community, said Dori Rice, who lives a block from
She also said she watches johns picking up
neighborhood prostitutes a daily and nightly
Evangelist Steve Hill tells revival crowds
that the revival 's influence is cleaning up
prostitution, drugs and street crime in
Not true, residents say.
"What has happened is the prostitutes
have moved closer into our community away from
the church," Rice said. "Now johns are
driving up and down the streets where our
Roscoe Urbaniak, who has lived a few blocks
from Brownsville Assembly of God for 50 years,
said other crimes are on the upswing, raising
anxiety throughout the neighborhood. He told the
News Journal that elderly neighborhood women are
afraid to come out of their homes because of a
recent rash of purse snatchings.
Rice and her neighbors also say they are
seeing more and more homeless people wandering
their streets, sleeping in dumpsters and
People who live in the neighborhood say they
have gone to the church and been turned away.
Leaders of Brownsville Assembly of God, which
has been a thriving church for many years, blame
the 2-year-old revival for the church 's lack of
attention to community need.
"We have been so overwhelmed by the
revival. We haven 't had time to organize
anything," said Rose Compton, the church 's
Rice said the neighborhood hopes the church
will act soon.
"Lord have mercy. They should open the
doors every day to the needy, Rice said.
We have so many homeless. They could open that
kitchen daily to feed them. They have the money.
They have the people. That is the only way they
can reach the people is by helping them."
Assistant pastor Carey Robertson said church
leaders have been aware of the neighborhood 's
needs for some time but have not had a chance to
tackle the problem.
"Our problem was organization," he
said. "We started about six months ago to
get into serious discussions about the need and
how we would do this and fund it."
It took one woman, working on her own, to
start a program.
Cathy Mack moved to Pensacola from Johnson
City, Tenn., this year and was struck by the
neighborhood 's needs.
"When I first came here I thought I 'd go
to the Bible school," she said. "I felt
a calling to do this instead."
One of her volunteers is another revival
transplant Barbara Lee of Tyler, Texas.
Lee moved to Pensacola recently after
attending four revival meetings in December.
"I was living an upper-middle class
lifestyle before becoming a missionary. I gave up
the lifestyle to come here. Now I have a modest
lifestyle. But I 'm doing what I want: I 'm on
the front lines," she said.
On Aug. 16, the outreach program went into
action, canvassing about 50 houses in the blocks
around the church.
The volunteers knocked on doors and handed out
Bibles, Blessing Cards and revival tickets. The
revival is free, but space in the main sanctuary
is limited; the tickets guarantee a seat.
The Blessing Cards had space for the residents
to fill in name, address, phone number and a list
of urgent needs.
Jackie Cobb, 21, of Mallory Street credits the
group 's prayers for landing her not one, but two
"I was lazy. I needed a job but I didn 't
have a desire to look. When they prayed for me,
it motivated me to find a job," she said.
The volunteers have done yard work and minor
plumbing repairs for an elderly woman. She asked
that her name not be used because she lives
And they have helped Chuck Manning, 57, who
said he barely makes ends meet with a disability
check and the money he makes recycling copper.
"They bring me groceries," said
Manning, who lost both of his legs in an
accident. "I think they are wonderful
Robertson, who is overseeing Brownsville
Assembly of God, says that the outreach program
needs to focus mainly on spreading the Gospel.
"First, we want to evangelize. Win them
over to Christ. Then we will help with daily
needs as well as spiritual needs," Robertson
Dave Corson, administrator for Pensacola 's
largest church, Olive Baptist Church, takes a
different approach to outreach.
"Our number one responsibility is to
present the good news of Christ," he said.
"But a lot of time a hungry person or
thirsty person can 't receive the good news you
are trying to share because they are hungry. You
have to take care of their physical needs before
the spiritual needs."
Residents say that any improvements in the
neighborhood have come through the Brownsville
Neighborhood Improvement Organization, a
volunteer group of people living in the area.
They work closely with the Brownsville
Redevelopment Program, local law enforcement
agencies and Escambia County officials, Rice
Many business owners in the Brownsville
community were eager to talk to the News Journal
about the church and revival 's failure to help
the community, but few would permit their names
to be printed. Several said they feared
retaliation from the church.
As an example, a woman who operates a business
on Mobile Highway said revival regulars often
come into her store and harass her.
And Jim Murphy, owner of neighborhood bar,
Murphy 's Too, said revival visitors have
vandalized his place.
He says he allows people waiting in line for
the revival to come into his bar to use his
They repay him by defacing his bathroom walls.
"They use my bathroom and write, 'Come to
Church,'" Murphy said.
Murphy said he is not offended by the message,
but he is offended that people who say they are
disciples of Christ would deface his property.
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