“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
and He will repay him for his deed.”
Dear St. Andrew’s Family,
Thank you for your fantastic response to the sermon this past week. As promised, here is further information about Greta Johnson and the project.
Having grown up on Rose Lane, Margaretta “Greta” Johnson has always known St. Andrew’s Church, or as it is known in the local African-American community, “the Brown Church.” She and her sisters, Shelby, Wanda, and Annalee, along with her mother, Margaret Green, have known you as well. The sisters all worked in the nursery of St. Andrew’s before the Ministry Center was built. Some of you were rocked and bounced on their knees. Their mother, Margaret, was a caretaker for a parishioner’s mother as the mother came to the end of her life. This is a family that has cared for us from the cradle to the grave.
Margaret Green purchased 119 Rose Lane shortly after it was built in 1971. She didn’t know at the time but the house was built below grade. For years, this property has flooded whenever we’ve had just a few inches of rain. The house has such an issue with water inundation that the front door was raised with a step up through the door and a step down into the living room. Around the house small brick walls have been built to keep out the water.
The family was raised in public housing a few blocks from the church until Margaret managed to purchase her house. She was a single mom with six children. Her full time job was in housekeeping at Roper Hospital. In addition, she worked shifts as a cook in a local restaurant, worked in the nursery at St. Andrew’s, and worked as a caretaker for the elderly in our community.
Through tears Greta tells how her mother not only managed to take care of her own family of seven but also made sure that a homeless man who hung out at the end of Rose Lane always had something to eat. She was the only person in the neighborhood who had a car and so she frequently was called upon to ferry people around Mt Pleasant. Greta once asked her mother how she managed to do all of this. “I made it work with six by the grace of the Lord.”
Today the home where Mrs. Green took care of her neighbors is uninhabitable due to the flooding. Though Greta Johnson inherited the home from her mother, she lives in North Charleston. She works as a retail clerk in Mt Pleasant and fixing the home is financially out of her reach.
Two weeks after the fire of April 22, 2018, the staff delivered rose bushes to our neighbors, thanking them for their kindness shown to Steve and our parishioners in the early morning hours as the fire raged (read the story). There was a note attached to the bush which ended with, “If there is any way that we can help you now or in the future, please don’t hesitate to call on us.”
We discovered the condition of Mrs. Johnson’s home after we cleared the back corner of our site during our construction process and neighbors asked if we might be able to help with the drainage issues on Mrs Johnson’s property. Lewis Middleton, Mitchell Bohannon and Steve met with Mrs. Johnson and neighborhood leaders at Friendship AME church to see how we might assist in alleviating her flooding problem. Several things were proposed that St. Andrew’s could take care of, including installing a pump and a drainage system.
The ideas were good but at the end of the day they were short-term solutions to a long-term problem that was not going to go away. The only good alternative is to raze the house and rebuild it above grade. The Vestry and leadership of St. Andrew’s readily committed to making this vision a reality. And, when we spoke with Mrs. Johnson about this idea it was graciously and tearfully received.
Friends, we have the opportunity to make a generational impact in our community; benefitting not only Greta Johnson but her family after her.
The collective resources of the people of St. Andrew’s can help Greta Johnson move back to her childhood home and enable her to live there as long as she is able. This is a modest home, roughly 1200 square feet, and the new home will be built on the same footprint as the old home. In my last conversation with Greta she expressed her gratitude for our willingness to do this and at the very end of the conversation she hesitantly asked if she could make a request. She said it has been a dream of hers to have an island in her kitchen and a deck off of the back of the house and she wondered if that might be possible. She was assured that both of those things can happen.
So, we need your partnership. We need to raise $250,000 and we need folks willing to lend a hand by actually building the house. Once we raise the money we will begin the process of seeking Town permissions to demolish the existing house and rebuild the new home. Our timetable will be determined by how quickly we can raise the funds and the Town permitting process. In any case, you will be kept informed of our progress.
If you would like to make a gift you may do so by writing a check payable to “St. Andrew’s Church” and on the memo line write, “My Jerusalem.”
For those of you who would also like to volunteer to help build the house when that time comes, you can sign up below.
In the family,
Steve & Jacqui