When traveling down Oakwood Avenue in Central Cities, one cannot notice the absence of a building that resolved to touch the lives of so many for so long, without it being easy to indulge in a conversation with almost anyone who entered the doors at 1215 Oakwood Ave. on any day Monday thru Sunday. The church is torn down. When reflecting back on it, the core and essence of its existence, its spiritual Patriarchal and Matriarchal resolute, and its legacy that will never be lost or forgotten, memories of endearment linger.
The church, formerly started as Wabash C. O. G. I. C., then Zion C. O. G.I. C., and presently New Life C. O. G. I. C., rightfully boasts of national sons and daughters whose rich heritage gave them a place in society that many refer to as "Hall of Fame Inductees".
When entering the city many years ago for me in the 1980's it was no question as to where I would find a church home. After meeting and visiting many of the pioneers who have now transitioned, they would not have allowed me to be immersed anywhere else but 1215 Oakwood Ave. History identifies Elder M. H. Hawkins, aka Dad Hawkins, as the Forerunner and patriarch of the church. After the passing of Dad Hawkins, the church transitioned to leadership from sons who had grown up in the ministry or migrated to it. Some of them were Eld. T. T. Thomas, who had served as Assistant Pastor for 34 years and pastored the church for 9 years. After the passing of Eld. T. T. Thomas, others who followed were Eld. Martin Johnson, Elder Thurman Jefferson, Elder Ross Johnson, and presently serving since 1994, Bishop Edward T. Cook. Seeking to carry out the vision at 1215 Oakwood Ave., Bishop Cook merged two congregations: New Jerusalem C. O. G. I. C. and Zion C. O. G. I. C.
The late Bishop William Morgan James served as Pastor for a short period of time prior to Bishop Cook taking the lead to Pastor the church. After much prayer, Bishop Cook was led to give the church a new name: NEW LIFE.
Fast forwarding, Bishop Cook has moved the church into the 21st Century with a vision that ushers members into a transcended mindset of " appreciating the old, preparing for the new and shifting on purpose." It is apparent that this indeed is truly what is happening at New Life. As the shift has taken place, Bishop Cook and the congregation embarked upon a move that has opened the door for transition. They are presently conducting worship services at Martin Luther King Academy, as the building is being torn down and getting ready for the new look that will take place on the grounds.
History does not have to repeat itself, it is lived out in all of us who were once a vital part of the richness at 1215 Oakwood Avenue.
We pray continued blessings upon Bishop Cook and New Life as they embark upon the newness that they are preparing for again on Oakwood Avenue. Bless you.......