March 13, 2014
By Cora Jackson-Fossett
As demographics rapidly change in Southeast Los Angeles, Walker Temple A.M.E. Church is transforming its ministry to embrace all cultures and needs of the community.
Located at 2525 Trinity Avenue, the neighborhood was once overwhelmingly African American, but 40+ years ago, Latinos moved in and now represent 90 percent of the residents.
But that statistic doesn’t worry Pastor Rosalynn K. Brookins. Her philosophy is, “We’re two cultures serving one God. In essence, we have come to understand that as men and women of the beloved community of faith, both the Walker Temple Family as well as the Iglesias Christiana of Los Angeles family, have a desire to be made whole. This is not predicated upon social, economic, or racial status.”
Applying a holistic approach to ministry, Pastor Brookins, along with Executive Pastor Thema Bryant-Davis, launched the first bilingual mental health site in the African Methodist Episcopal Church to have both African American and Latino licensed clinicians.
“Our approach is different because we look at ministry not just from a ‘shout’ and a sermon,’ but we take a holistic approach.
“Dealing holistically simply means that as preachers of the gospel, we must begin to address real issues which have plagued our community for far too long.”
The clinic is part of the I’m Possible Youth Foundation created by Pepperdine University alumni who partnered with Walker Temple to open the site. Clinical and counseling services are available every Friday from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (310) 677-7080.
“The satellite here is called The Freedom Ministry, recognizing that God would want us to be free now, not just thinking about heaven or the afterlife, but as you’re living now, not having to carry all of the burdens or stress that we often are silent about,” explained Dr. Bryant-Davis.
“There is a big stigma in the African American community about seeking therapy. Often, people in our community will think therapy is just for those that are “crazy” or people who don’t have friends or they think it’s too expensive.
“But, we’re willing to pay for other things like our hair, our nails, a flat screen TV, but to invest in our mental health is really important for people to do,” said Dr. Bryant-Davis.
“We want people to know that Walker Temple is a place for those who want to be made whole to come and receive the necessary help,” added Pastor Brookins.
The counseling services include individual, couples and family therapy as well as assistance with depression, grief, marital problems, parenting difficulties, work stress or being laid-off.
“It’s hard to show up for a job interview when you’ve have a season where you really weren’t productive. You need to get your mind right, so you can be encouraged and go forward,” noted Dr. Bryant-Davis.
She also shared that professional counseling can help with the daily stresses people encounter or major issues like killing, suicide, or substance abuse. The Walker Temple clinic includes a Substance Abuse Group Program offering individual and group counseling to assist in the restoration process to remain sober.
“There’s no issue that is too small. For some people, we call it positive psychology where you have a disorder or distress. There’s another group of people that have been managing okay, but just want to do better. They want to learn how to thrive and to soar. You can get sessions for more empowerment,” she said.
“We recognize that trying to be a holistic ministry, that we wanted to make the clinic’s services accessible right here in the community. Also, we wanted to make it affordable. There’s a sliding scale that goes as low as $10 for people who are unemployed.
“In addition, we have been gifted by a member of the church who is willing to pay for 10 sessions at that base rate.”
Providing services for both cultures didn’t happen overnight for Pastor Brookins and the Walker Temple congregation. It involved having a genuine concern for all of God's people.
“In essence, the message, ‘Jesus loves the little children, red, yellow, black and white,’ had to be lived out in a very simple yet authentic way!
“In serving a number one God, we must meet people where they are and guide them to that place of wholeness,” said Pastor Brookins.