Charisse N. Woods is a pastor and the owner of two businesses in Baltimore, MD- Charisse N. Woods Funeral Service and Omega Removal Service. Pastor Woods shares in her own words about life in ministry and her experiences as the first female pastor of historic Quinn Chapel A.M.E Church. Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church is a church that has a rich and historical legacy. It is the oldest A.M.E. Church west of the Allegheny Mountains, located in the oldest Black city in America- Brooklyn, Illinois. In September 2009, I was blessed with the opportunity to share in their 184 year history by being appointed as their first female pastor. Currently, we are attempting to get Quinn Chapel listed as a historical landmark on the Underground Railroad Register and receive designation on the National Registry of Historic Places. Quinn Chapel is noted as being one of the safe havens used to hide slaves as they were making their escape from the slave state of Missouri.
During my short time as pastor of Quinn Chapel we have seen an increase in involvement from the youth and young adult. God has also blessed the church to recover from a financial deficit to where we are now able to send donations to other A.M.E. churches that are in financial distress. We were also able to financially donate to the Haiti relief effort. We have currently teamed up with Rev. Christal Bell-Bryant and her congregation, Wesley Chapel A.M.E. Church in Edwardsville IL, and Soles4Souls to collect shoes for those affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Additionally I have instituted a ministry for Young Ladies ages 12-19, a ministry to senior adults ages 65 and older; and a monthly volunteer effort at a home for pregnant women and their children.
Since serving as Quinn Chapel’s pastor I have experienced and worked through several challenges. One challenge is to show the congregants that I have their best interest at heart and gain their trust. Another challenge is to continuously encourage the members so they can be excited about their church and what we can do with faith and God’s help regardless of our size. My final challenge was understanding the dynamics of a family church where several families are related to each other biologically or by marriage.
Since I have been here for only 5 months I have seen some drastic changes in the members. Several of the youth have become more involved and more outgoing in their personalities, and members have been growing spiritually in their understanding of the Word of God. Others have become more excited about their church and have been sharing with others what was preached/taught and what we are doing as a church. They are a hardworking and faithful people!
The personal challenges I have had to overcome to get to this point in ministry are many but I will highlight a few. First, I had to overcome the fact that everything I have done in ministry I have always been the youngest although God has used me mightily. Another challenge I overcame was learning to accept that everyone will not be excited about what God is doing in your life and ministry. The final challenge was not receiving the mentoring and training I felt I needed from other ministers and pastors who had the experience and knowledge about ministry. I felt like I have traveled my ministerial journey alone even though I knew God was with me. But, I thank God for Pastor Rosalyn Crosby who mentored, taught and showed me how to be a pastor and serve God’s people unconditionally with your whole heart.
My vision for future ministry at Quinn Chapel includes a college campus ministry, outreach to the neighboring cities, and possibly developing a multicultural congregation. I would also like to develop worship services and Bible studies in several surrounding areas to reach those who will not come to the church. I want to utilize our non-profit status to generate funding to establish a youth mentoring/tutoring program, programs for substance abuse and those who need assistance for recovery, and a re-entry program for those that have been recently released from prison. My vision for my personal ministry is extraordinary. I want to participate in doing missions and ministry in other countries. I would like to author several books and develop a publishing company in order to publish other Christian authors. I also want the opportunity to teach in a seminary or Christian college. I have great expectations for my life and ministry, but I know that if it is God’s will he will provide the opportunities.
For more information about Quinn Chapel AME Church visit www.QuinnChapel.org.