Bishop Arthur M. Brazier
Bishop Arthur M. Brazier
Behold the Man:
The Life Story of Bishop Arthur M. Brazier
Bishop Arthur Monroe Brazier was a great man who lived his life with dignity, integrity, and an unwavering faith in our great God. In the eighty-nine years he traversed the earth, from Chicago to Paris to Johannesburg—wherever the ministry of Jesus Christ led him—he influenced the lives of countless numbers of people.
The youngest child of Geneva and Robert Brazier’s five children, he was born July 22, 1921, on the south side of Chicago. He attended Douglas Elementary School and Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. A child of the Great Depression, he took whatever job he could land in order to earn his own keep and help his family. A proponent of education and higher learning, he learned how to speak French fluently after the age of 50; it was a skill that enabled him to preach the Gospel in Paris churches.
Bishop Brazier was very proud of his military service to his country (he could still recite his Army number decades after serving). A World War II veteran with two Battle Stars for the North Burma and Central Burma campaigns, he was inducted into the United States Army in 1942 and served for three years.
In 1947, while reading from the twenty-first chapter of Revelation, the 26-year-old Arthur, with his mother at his side, gave his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. He often credited his mother, whose stalwart faith he inherited, for his spiritual and religious development, and his father for instilling in him a care for people and a sense of justice.
On February 21, 1948, he joined in holy matrimony to Esther Isabelle Holmes, daughter of Lola and Leon Holmes. In sixty-two years of marriage, they became parents to Lola, Byron, Janice, and Rosalyn, grandparents to seven and great-grandparents eleven.
Arthur immersed himself in the Word of God. Although he was baptized in Jesus’ name at the Morgan Park Assembly Church under the pastorate of Elder Herbert C. Moore, he joined Universal Church of Christ, where his mother was the pastor.
Answering the Call
Not long after answering God’s call to ministry, Elder Brazier became the assistant pastor of Universal Church of Christ following his mother’s death in 1949. He became the pastor in 1952. He enrolled at Moody Bible Institute in 1955 to gain “a greater understanding of the Bible” to become a more effective teacher and preacher.
In 1960, he was asked by Deacon Gerald Nuckolls and Elder Robert J. McGee to pastor the Apostolic Church of God, a small congregation with which his church shared space. He answered the call and, ultimately, the two churches merged under the name of the Apostolic Church of God with Elder Brazier at the helm. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9
In 1976, Elder Brazier became Bishop Brazier when he was elevated to the office of Diocesan Bishop in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. He was assigned to the Sixth Episcopal District (Illinois District Council), which included oversight of more than eighty churches when he resigned from the PAW in 2007. Under his guidance, the Illinois District Council leveraged its funds, helped local congregations, and sent money to foreign dioceses.
Doing Great Works for Christ
Bishop Brazier’s lasting legacy, perhaps, will be marked by his forty-eight years as pastor of the Apostolic Church of God.
During his tenure, he guided the church through several expansion projects. The last project (a youth and family center) was completed in October 2007, only months before his retirement. Under his pastorate, the church grew from approximately 100 members to more than 20,000 members; yet, he remained a connected and accessible pastor throughout the forty-eight years.
As committed as Bishop Brazier was to his life as a pastor, he recognized early in his life a need for being actively involved in the civic life of Chicago. Bishop Brazier began his community work with the Industrial Areas Foundation under the tutelage of Saul Alinsky and Nicholas Von Hoffman. In 1961, while working with Saul Alinsky, he founded The Woodlawn Organization (T.W.O.). He served as T.W.O.’s president for nine years. In 1966, he invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Chicago, and together they protested against segregation in housing and education.
Bishop Brazier joined the staff of the Center for Community Change, a Washington-based institution that provided technical assistance to community organizations in various parts of the country. After several years of service with The Center, he was elevated to the office of Vice President, providing direction and oversight of major projects. Bishop Brazier remained in that position until 1986 when he resigned to devote more time to his church, which was experiencing tremendous growth.
Still, Bishop Brazier sought ways to serve the communities immediately surrounding the church. He was the founding Chairman of the Board of the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corporation (WPIC), a community-based group organized for the improvement of the Woodlawn community. And he was the founding Chairman of the Board of The Fund for Community Redevelopment and Revitalization, a group of community and institutional leaders that came together in 1993 to pool their resources to undertake efforts to rebuild the East Woodlawn and North Kenwood-Oakland communities.
Retired but Still Going
Bishop Brazier was appointed to the Board of the Public Building Commission of Chicago in 1986, and he held that position until September 2010. He was the Chairman of the Board of the Executive Committee of the New Communities Program, an affiliate of the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), a national organization dedicated to helping community residents transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities of choice and opportunity. In September 2008, he officially installed his son and ACOG assistant pastor, Dr. Byron T. Brazier, as pastor of the Apostolic Church of God. In that same month, he was named the first Senior Fellow of LISC/Chicago. A year-long fellowship, this opportunity allowed him to prepare and deliver presentations on community development, advise the executive staff of LISC, and participate in various LISC-related activities in Chicago and nationally. Bishop Brazier was instrumental in starting the Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community, an organization of which he was Chairman of the Board until his resignation on October 14, 2010. While his community work continued post-retirement, Bishop Brazier did not cease to serve the Church. As Pastor Emeritus of Apostolic Church of God, he continued to preach when called upon and often preached at other churches.
Bishop Brazier’s greatest accomplishments are the ones he shares with his wife: his four children. All of their children are born-again believers working and serving in the church; and one of them, Dr. Byron T. Brazier, continues the legacy of his father as the pastor of the Apostolic Church of God.
Finishing the Work
Bishop Brazier allowed nothing—not even illness—to keep him from doing what God called him to do, whether it was in the church or in the community. He served the Lord by serving others faithfully until he reached the end of his earthly journey October 22, 2010.