Rev. Michael Smith joined Brookwood’s staff as Student Minister in 2002. In 2006, Mike transitioned to a new position – Associate Pastor of Worship. Although Mike was not responsible for actually leading the music portion of the worship services, he coordinated all that happened during the adult worship services. Pastor Mark Sutton announced, in late summer 2009, that he would be retiring in the near future. He encouraged the church to consider Mike as our next senior pastor. After prayerful consideration and a few church discussions, the congregation chose Mike to be our pastor. Mark retired July 18, 2010, and Mike became our pastor.
Under Mike’s leadership, Brookwood continues to guide everyone we meet to a life centered in Christ and to align all of our ministries toward this vision. Although he was not yet the pastor, Mike was very influential in the current direction of the church. He was the staff member responsible for working with the Building Committee and other staff during Renovate, which led to our KidStuf! family worship experience, the establishment of The Well (café), and upgrades in the gathering area and worship center. He also provided the support we needed to launch 2nd Saturday – our monthly community influence project.
During the summer of 2010, Josh Guthrie, a former Brookwood student associate, returned from New Orleans Baptist Seminary to become our Middle School Minister. Josh became the Student Pastor in early 2012 after the departure of Ryan Gentles, High School Pastor (2010-2011). Nikki Neal served as our preschool ministry assistant for 3 years. In January, 2011, she became our Preschool Minister. Weston Brown, a native of Minden, LA, became our LifeGroups Pastor in April 2011 after serving in the Dallas Metroplex.
Although Brookwood has had a great past, we believe we will have an even better future.
THE SECOND 50 YEARS
We celebrated our 50th Anniversary on April 24, 2005, with the launch of Count on Me - our stewardship campaign to fund Phase 2 (more education space and parking). By the end of May, 2005, we also began exploring possibilities of how to sustain the growth and make room for more people before Phase 2 was complete and beyond. The result of that exploration led to the beginning of a Saturday night worship service in November 2005. This is a contemporary service much like the Sunday morning 11:00 service. Continued growth caused us to keep dreaming. During 2006, church staff and leaders worked with a consultant to refocus our vision. What came out of that was a refining of our strategic experiences – worship, LifeGroup, DiscoverPoint, ServeTeam, and Influnece - to help us to guide everyone we meet to a life centered in Christ. Our desire is for everyone to be loving, living, growing, giving, and influencing.
In February 2008, we moved most of our LifeGroups (some churches call them Sunday School) off-campus so we could position ourselves to reach even more people through small group Bible study without having to build more adult education space. This also gave us the flexibility of creating more worship services in the future.
The plans for renovate were shared with the church in January 2009. The dream was to make Brookwood more inviting by creating living spaces in the gathering area and adding the café, creating a kid-focused family worship experience, and upgrading the worship center for better lighting and sound. The church provided the funding and the renovation began in late 2009. Worship times were changed and KidStuf! began in March 2010 coinciding with the opening of The Well. The upgraded worship center is to be commissioned September 4-5, 2010.
After dreaming for 8 years about separate Middle School and High School ministries, Brookwood is finally implementing that with the addition of Josh Guthrie as Middle School Minister and Ryan Gentles as High School Minister. In 2011, Weston Brown became our LifeGroups Pastor. Jeff Jones became our Executive Pastor and Shane Reed became our Worship & Communications Pastor when Mike transitioned to senior pastor.
Brookwood will continue missions partnerships with the Mexican Indian Training Center in Mexico, Sam & Peggy Feazel in Honduras, Tony & Trish Pitaniello in Cambodia, and John & Mary Lawrence in Ethiopia. We will also seek to expand missions opportunities with Mark Sutton in Haiti and others throughout the world.
THE FIRST 50 YEARS
Rev. Joe Flanagan had a dream. His God-given dream was a church in the Southern Hills area of Shreveport. As with any dream, it could not easily be put aside. Although the Caddo (Northwest Louisiana Baptist Association) Associational Missions Committee, on which Joe served, was looking for an area to begin a new church, the committee did not agree with him on this area as being ready. Rev. Flanagan, would not, could not, give up on his dream.
He took his burden to his own people, the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Shreveport. They dared to dream with him, voting to build the mission. They secured lots, made a loan, and completed the first building. Worship services began on Mother's Day, 1954.
During these mission days, several ordained ministers and laymen filled the pulpit. Among those were Rev. Flanagan, Rev. Walker Ledford, Rev. John Hendryx, Rev. Dan McBride, Rev. Leon Gould, and Bro. H.J. Crane. One year later, on Mother's Day, 1955, that mission became Brookwood Baptist Church with 108 charter members. The first pastor to serve Brookwood was Rev. Ben Rogers who served from May through September of 1955.
Rev. Homer Burr followed Rev. Rogers as Brookwood's pastor, serving September, 1955 until May, 1957. J.R. Stringfellow became Brookwood's first Music Minister. He served part-time from January of 1957 until August of 1963.
The spirit and dedication of the early membership is revealed in church minutes dated July 10, 1957. Finances at that time were so low that there were not enough operating funds. Three members pledged $50 each for that month to be repaid without interest when the church was able. Twenty men contributed $5 each to allow payment on the air conditioner to be made. These same men agreed together to make up the difference each month there was not enough operating monies received in tithes and offerings. During these difficult days, Emmanuel Baptist Church gave $100 and that deacon body gave $75 to aid a struggling Brookwood.
Dr. W.H. Sims, served as interim pastor from June to October, 1957. Rev. Lloyd Brown became the third fulltime pastor in October. The eight years he served were years of growth and expansion with the membership more than doubling. Bro. Art Magart served as the interim Music Minister the last 2 months of 1963. In February, 1964, Bro. Ronnie Reagan became the first full-time Minister of Music and Education. He served until the end of 1966.
In January, 1965, Brookwood sponsored its first mission church. This was financial support to the disbanded Homer Oil Field Baptist Church in Homer, Louisiana. By September, a new building was begun. In March, 1966, the Calvary Baptist Church of Homer was organized with Brookwood's own Rev. Brown serving as the pastor.
Rev. R.O. Bazer served as interim pastor until Rev. Jerry Green became pastor in April, 1967. Under Rev. Green's leadership, Brookwood experienced further growth and moved to double Bible Study times and double worship services. In 1968, the church purchased adjacent property. An architect drew up a master plan for future building needs. On March 27, 1968, the church approved this plan and began the first phase in December of 1968 with James Mohr serving as the Building Committee chairman. This phase included worship and education space. The Brookwood family rallied together and sold $225,000 in church-building bonds to make possible the financing of phase one possible. The indebtedness of $68,384.74 was paid off in January, 1970. This phase cost $475,000 and was dedicated on May 2, 1971.
In 1972, Bible Study and church membership passed the 1000 mark. Plans were made to begin remodeling the old auditorium and education space. Rev. Dan Gardner served as interim pastor (August, 1972 - August, 1973). He previously served as interim for a few months during Rev. Green's heart attack recuperation.
During the preceding years, the Southern Hills section of Shreveport had grown and developed far beyond the expectation of even its developers. It was now recognized for the fertile, evangelistic field that Rev. Flanagan had dreamed it would be.
Rev. Charles Hutzler became pastor in August, 1973. During his tenure, Brookwood continued to reach new people and introduce them to Jesus Christ. Space continued to be an issue. Charles Hughes guided the music ministry from October, 1974, until February, 1975. At this time Bro. George Ramsey became the Minister of Music and Youth.
Bro. Ramsey's leadership guided Brookwood's youth and adults to experience missions firsthand with efforts in Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoras, Mexico. The first trip was made in July, 1975. For many summers, many of our youth and adults participated in Bible Schools in Brownsville and helped with construction of an orphanage in Matamoras, sponsored by the Brownsville First Baptist Church and other Christians. Construction people among the Brookwood family donated materials and helped build a medical clinic and additions to the orphanage. Members with medical experience helped organize and staff the clinic. This medical clinic not only helped the orphanage but the Mexican people in the surrounding communities. Testimony after testimony verified that the Lord's hand had been at work as obstacle after obstacle was overcome to accomplish the impossible. Even the Mexican authorities seemingly "looked the other way" as they recognized the good being done for their people. But, perhaps, the most amazing testimony is not the blessings received by the people of Texas and Mexico, the rather the Brookwood believers and others who have gone to share the Lord. They returned home with a deeper personal faith, opened eyes, and understanding hearts.
In 1978, Brookwood briefly experimented with dual Bible studies and one worship service. Although this novel approach was unsuccessful, the Brookwood family realized anew the need for more space to accommodate its membership. Bro. Marc Greene became Minister of Music and Youth in July 1978. He helped launch Youth Challenge Week in 1980. He left in 1983 to pursue studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Rev. Dan Gardner became pastor on September 30, 1979. Under Rev. Gardner's guidance, Brookwood continued to grow and build and participate in missions. The Brookwood Activities Center was completed. Bro. Larry Dry served as Minister of Education (1981-1986). He was followed by Bro. Bruce Edwards (1987-1992). Bro. Donny Lee became the first Minister of Youth and Activities in July, 1982. Bro. James Smith became Assistant Pastor in January, 1987. He retired in January, 2003. Bro. John McAnally was our Music Minister from 1983 to 1989.
Mark Sutton (1989-2010)
Rev. Mark Sutton became pastor in September, 1989. Bro. Mark brought a passion to continue to reach new people for Christ and a dream. This dream, to relocate Brookwood to land adjacent to the future I-49, remained private for years. Lack of space caused Brookwood to add parking, purchase property, offer multiple worship services and small group Bible study times, and select a Long Range Planning Committee. Early in Bro. Mark's ministry, Bro. Terry Barksdale became Minister of Music (February, 1990), Bro. Randy McGee became Minister of Education and Administration (March, 1992 - September, 1999), Bro. Scott Benefield became Youth Minister (1991-1996), and Skip Tyndall became our Facilities Manager (March, 1991). Donny Lee transitioned to Family Life Minister (June, 1991 - May, 1995) and then to Childhood Education Minister (June, 1995 - December, 2001). After years of service in our preschool ministry, Peggy Tuggle became the preschool director in 1995. Marc Greene rejoined the staff as Singles and Senior Adult Minister and Bro. Kevin Moss became our Youth Minister in 1996. Marc left in 2000. Kevin left in 2001. In 1992, Brookwood's total membership grew beyond 2000. Annual financial gifts to the budget reached $1 million in 1994. In 2009, they were $3 million.
Brookwood made a change in worship styles in 1999. Following years of two identical blended worship services, the church adopted two different styles - a traditional style with a choir and hymns and a contemporary style with a praise team and band and choruses. In July, 2000, Rev. John Harp became Associate Pastor with responsibilities in senior adults, counseling, hospital ministry, and preaching, and Rev. Jeff Jones became Minister of Education and Administration. Bro. Daryl Griffin became Singles Minister late in 2000. He left to pursue studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 2002. When Donny Lee became our Minister of Missions and Evangelism and Peggy Tuggle retired as our Preschool Minister in 2001, Martha Boswell became our Minister of Preschool and Children. Rev. Mike Smith joined the staff as Student Minister in May, 2002. Rosalyn Milliken, Children's Minister, and Bennetta Smith, Preschool Minister, joined our staff in November 2003. Shane Reed became our first Media Minister in December 2003. In 2004, Donny Lee took on the added responsibility of Singles. That same year saw Mike Smith add Teaching Pastor to his responsibilities as he continued to guide the Path worship service. This service was geared to the youngest generation of adults. Terry Barksdale left in September, 2004. Bro. Robert Holland stepped in to lead worship in the first service and Jeff German stepped in to guide the praise team in the second service.
Following our relocation and staff adjustments, Bro. Mark guided the church to choose Mike Smith as our Worship Pastor with Jeff German, Spencer Keller, and Stan Wallace as the actual worship leaders in 2006. Kevin Nettles was our Student Minister from 2007-2010. In 2010, Bro. Mark retired and relocated to the Orlando, Florida area to work with Haitians through the Florida Baptist Convention.
In the early 1990s, the Long Range Planning committee proposed a plan to construct a multistory education building at the Kingston Road location. As that plan was being reviewed, issues related to continued future growth were considered and the construction plans were delayed pending further evaluation. It was suggested that we should consider relocation. The most desired location was at or near the intersection of I-49 and Bert Kouns Industrial Loop (even though, at that time, I-49 was not completed).
Church leaders began to compile data about the church, its membership and growth patterns as well as demographic information about the surrounding area. After some discussion a presentation was made to the deacons at a special Saturday meeting held at Norman Gordon's farm. At that meeting relocation was proposed and it was suggested that the church consider purchasing East Ridge shopping center located west of I-49 on Bert Kouns. The plan was approved by unanimous vote. Bob Mercer, faithful Brookwood member and deacon, said that he had truly felt the spirit of the Lord guiding the deacons at that meeting.
Work began to determine whether the shopping center could be transformed into a church and how much it would cost to do so. Based on preliminary studies, the church began work on a pledge campaign to raise the money for the project. The persons heading the relocation efforts set a minimum pledge goal. On the date for receiving pledges, the minimum goal was not reached.
Some members offered to increase their pledges so that the goal would be met, but our pastor wisely declined. It seemed that the efforts to relocate were stopped. Our church had experienced some difficulties among members because of the proposed relocation. To those who sought to relocate, the need was clear and there was a firm belief that relocation was in God's plan for Brookwood. As it turned out, the idea for relocation was right, but the timing was wrong. God needed to grow Brookwood's people and change the church before it was time to move. During the following few years, the church continued to work on plans for relocation. The prime location was the northwest corner of I-49 and Bert Kouns. However, the sales price was too expensive at $2 million. Then, a five acre tract of that property was sold to Circuit City and a development agreement was executed which limited the use of the property to commercial purposes. The agreement specifically prohibited the use of the property for many things, including a specific prohibition against churches. Therefore, the northwest corner was now unavailable.
The Long Range Planning Committee continued to work. It focused its attention on the land at the Southwest corner of I-49 and Bert Kouns lying east of Stevens Road. The bulk of that tract was owned by a local bank, which had acquired it after the owner had defaulted on a loan. The church was able to negotiate a very good price for that land. Also, one smaller tract was owned by a partnership of local businessmen known well to some Brookwood members who agreed to sell a portion for a favorable price and donate the remainder to the church. After all the negotiations were completed we acquired the land on the southwest corner for less than $1 million.
The church retained the services of planners and architects through LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville. After several months of work and planning, and review of several ideas on how to build on the land, the consultants finally reported that the land we owned would not permit us to build to the capacities that were needed and that the cost for what we could build would be too high.
It once again seemed that we would not be able to relocate. The land we owned (which was, by this time paid for) could not be used for our purposes. We couldn't go back to the membership and ask for more money to buy more land while we still owned the southwest corner property and putting the property on the market and trying to sell it seemed to require too much time and was burdened with other complications.
During all of this time, Brookwood was continuing to change and to grow. The differences of opinion about the relocation had seemed to soften. There were still members that did not want the church to relocate, but their primary focus had seemed to shift to wanting a church to remain in the Kingston Road neighborhood. The most vocal rhetoric (including, at one point, a motion to alleviate overcrowding by refusing to accept any new members) had softened considerably. The church was experiencing necessary change where we were. New members joined and the church thrived even in the midst of the uncertainty of its future location. Our pastor continued to remind us of the need to focus on God and His work and to focus on reaching people. In doing that God continued to bless us.
Once again, we thought we were at the end of the road on the possibility of relocating. We had no other ideas that would work. And, once again, when we got to the point that there was nothing we could do, God showed us that He was in control of this situation and while we were helpless to do something, He could do anything.
At this point in time, Circuit City had decided to build near Youree Drive and no development had ever taken place on the northwest corner property. Some of our leadership knew that the development agreement which contained the restriction against churches would expire if there was no development in two years. Two years were about to pass. We contacted the owner of the property at the northwest corner that was not purchased by Circuit City. About 28 acres remained. Having no expectation it would work, but with a "what have I got to lose" attitude, we asked the owner's representative if the owner might be interested in "trading" property. We proposed the trade of our 21 acres at the southwest corner for the 28 acres at the northwest corner. The representative said the owner might be interested in our proposal.
We entered into formal negotiations for the exchange. The building restrictions no longer were valid. However, we needed to be able to get access from Bert Kouns across the Circuit City tract and also needed access from Box road to the north. While the building restrictions contained in the development agreement had expired, that agreement had continuing provisions for access across the Circuit City property. Circuit City did not want a church building on the land next to its property for fear that it would diminish the possible uses of its property and thereby diminish the value of the property. Because of potential problems with Circuit City, we insisted on getting a written confirmation from the company that the restrictions were no longer valid and that the rights of access were valid and binding. Initially, Circuit City representatives agreed, but when approached for approval, upper management refused.
We believed strongly that this exchange of property was in God's will, but also believed that we needed to work to make it a reality. The church supported the efforts of the owner of the northwest corner property to insist that Circuit City abide by its contract. When threatened with legal action that Circuit City knew it would lose, it agreed to give the written documentation we had requested. Our access from Bert Kouns was secured.
We still believed that we needed access from the north if the site would ever be able to be used to its capacity. We tried to purchase a right of way from the owners of the 10 acre tract to the north, but they would not sell a right of way. They wanted to sell the entire 10 acres. The church was trying to be good stewards of our money and believed that we could not afford to purchase that land and build the facilities we needed. At that point ten of our church families purchased the 10 acre tract and dedicated a right of way in favor of the church. Those families later donated the land to the church as well.
God had provided the place. We had 38 acres at the place our pastor dreamed and we believed was the location that Brookwood should be. It had incredible visibility and was very accessible. And, it was all paid for since the exchange of property we made was an even trade. We paid no extra money for the new land.
Following the completion of all of the location issues, we began to focus on the building and financial issues. We still had a portion of our membership that wanted a church to remain in the Kingston Road community. Therefore, it was decided that we would leave that location in tact and, somehow, try to maintain two locations. The financial consequences of that decision were that we would not be selling that property and, therefore, would not have any sales proceeds to use to support the new construction. However, God would honor our efforts to accommodate the needs of our members wanting to keep a church at Kingston Road.
During the course of our planning, we were approached by Morningside Baptist Church about the possibility of purchasing our Kingston Road facilities and moving their church to that location. Morningside had been approached by a church from Bossier that was forced to relocate because their location was taken to permit additional road construction. Morningside did not have their facilities for sale and had not previously considered relocation. Also, Brookwood had decided not to try to sell its Kingston Road facilities. However, God obviously had a different plan. In 2002, the Bossier church bought Morningside's facilities and Morningside bought Brookwood's facilities. We were also able to negotiate an agreement with Morningside under which we closed the transaction before Brookwood relocated (making those funds available to Brookwood immediately). Brookwood also stayed in its Kingston Road facilities until we were ready to move to the new location, without paying any rent. Morningside also used the facilities, having services on Sunday afternoon and Thursday evening. In 2004, Morningside called a new pastor and later merged with Ingleside forming Kingston Road Baptist Church. The church remains a vital contributor to the neighborhood. An interesting note is that Ingleside was the founding church of Emmanuel Baptist Church in 1941.
For months we worked to develop construction plans and a financial plan. We had begun our financial planning years before by starting to build into our annual budget monies for debt retirement. We slowly increased that amount, year by year, so that we would not have to drastically alter our spending habits when the time came that we would actually be needing to pay indebtedness which we incurred for our building. Finally, by the time we were ready to seek funding for the construction, interest rates were at their lowest point in decades.
After plans were done, we sought bids for construction. The excitement of bid day was quickly quashed when the lowest bid was for a price nearly $1 million over the budget we had gotten from our architects. Once again, we were faced with what seemed the inevitable result that we would not be able to build the facilities we felt were necessary to accomplish our mission. Not only were we over budget, but the base bids did not include the youth building or any of its contents, the covered walk way to the west, the interim office area, the extension of the gathering area, playground equipment, sound and video enhancements and a number of other items.
Again, unsure of what to do or how to do it, we began to investigate how to reduce our costs. With God's leadership, we ultimately were able to get our project within budget without reducing the size of the planned facilities. Not only that, but we also were able to build and furnish the youth building as well as the covered walk way to the west, the interim office area, the extension of the gathering area and purchase the playground equipment and the needed sound and video enhancements as well as a number of other items. The real magnitude of this miracle is in knowing that if we had realized ahead of time that the budget was greatly insufficient, we would have very likely reduced the size of the facilities to be built and not worked so hard to find other possible solutions to the problem.
This story cannot be fully written without talking about Susan Sutton. During the time that God was changing and growing Brookwood and its membership, Susan Sutton was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After her first set of chemotherapy treatments in 1996, Susan developed a perforated colon and was faced with the most severe of infections. The infections were at their worst at the time that Susan's ability to fight disease was at its lowest because of the chemo treatments. There was no alternative but to do surgery to try to remedy the problem. The doctors suggested to Mark Sutton that he should prepare to "say goodbye" to his wife because, as the doctors phrased it, a completely healthy adult would only have a 50/50 chance to survive what she was about to deal with.
The membership of Brookwood had already pulled together to fund the necessary treatments for Susan after the insurance company initially refused to pay for the treatment (an anticipated $300,000). The membership again pulled together to pray for and care for our Pastor's wife and family. Susan survived the surgery and survived for several more years, although battling the return of the cancer several times again. The disagreements concerning buildings and locations for the church seemed to subside during all of this. It was difficult for the people to bicker over such things when we were side by side praying together for Susan and her family. The unity of the people in caring for the Suttons was also evident in other things in the church.
Finally, as the new buildings at Brookwood were being constructed, the church planned for a dedication service. We set dates three times, and on each of the first two dates some problem occurred that prevented the dedication service from being held. Finally, on the third try, we were able to have the service. By that time we had a floor, walls and roof for what would be the worship center. On the earlier dates, we would have met in a tent. And, more significantly, on the date we actually had the dedication service, Susan Sutton was able to attend. She had been undergoing another round of cancer treatment and would have been unable to attend any of the three previously scheduled dates. On the date of the dedication, she was brought by medical transport from Grace Home and was there with the church she loved, worshiping at the new location. It was overwhelming. Susan had a vision for the work God would do at this location and as much as anyone or anything wanted it completed. She died five days later.
The Brookwood family moved into its new facilities on February 15, 2004. New people continue to be reached, many committing to Jesus Christ for the very first time. We celebrated our 50th Anniversary on April 24, 2005.
Written by Marilyn Fain, Jeff Jones, & Nicky Nix