January 25, 2007

Cambridge NAACP Honors Rev Attles

Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
Memorial Breakfast Celebration

Theme: "Equity Matters"

Keynote Speaker:

The Honorable Joyce London Alexander
U.S. Magistrate Judge

Saturday Feb 3 2007
9:00 am

Hyatt Hotel
575 Memorial Drive
Cambridge Ma

Tickets: $60 (includes membership)

2007 Honorees

  • Lenora Jennings
  • Rev Dr Howard McLendon
  • Rev Dr Leroy Attles
  • Rev Virginia Ward
  • Kamau Karanja MD
Presented by
The Cambridge NAACP

For infomation & tickets, please contact: Sis Zelma Evelyn (617-876-2425) or Sis Charlotte Nelson (617-445-7382). Tickets can be purchased after the 8:15 and 10:45 services on Sunday Jan 28 2007.

January 3, 2007

"God has been leading him right from the beginning" - Sister Henrietta Attles

“My goal is that they will be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love.” Rev. Dr. Leroy Attles, and his wife, Mrs. Henrietta Attles are the personification of these words from Colossians 2:2

I sat down with the pastor and his wife to discuss his ministry here at St Paul. He graciously let her do most of the talking.

He is a special man, says Mrs. Attles of the Pastor. “God has been leading him right from the beginning.”
Pastor’s leadership abilities and his training encouraged him to run for the highest position of the church, striving for excellence in every category. That is what he was trying to offer to the church. He found what his purpose was. Over the 30 years Rev. Attles has been here, his purpose was to provide the legacy of holiness for the young pastors that came under his leadership. And God has been revealing that to us more so this year than at any other time in his ministry, according to Mrs. Attles.

He has been invited to go and speak at different churches for special occasions. Which he would not have taken the opportunity to do. What he has found is that his children in ministry are outstanding leaders. Mrs. Attles confirmed that no one else in the AME church can boast of having 125 sons and daughters who entered the formal ministry, or people that have experienced him as their pastoral leader at some time in their lives.
His purpose, like we’re trying to learn so much about the purpose driven life, and it’s not about me, it’s about what God wanted me to do to add to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit
She stated, I think that years from now, when he’s not so involved in the ‘next program’ or the next ‘oneness conference’, that he will sit back and reflect on his influence in the lives of so many ministers.

Just two weeks ago, we had the opportunity to return to one of his earlier churches for their 125th Anniversary. He had made a promise that he would come.

Q: What church was that?

Bethel AME in Passaic New Jersey. The Pastor there, whose name is Rev Linda Elerby, was not one of his children in the ministry, shared with him that he was the first person she had ever experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit with. He had no idea.

When he had done a revival for Rev Elerby, he had no idea. Several members of her current church were there and they said that was their first introduction to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Several people said that. Pastor was sitting there in awe because he had no idea of them receiving the gifts like that.

This was just one person who had seen him in a revival and it had changed their whole ministry at the revival, because of his influence. Teaching and sharing that there was more to going to church than just going for the Godly works. There is a whole spiritual component that they had not been exposed to. [Subsequently this revelation] had changed their whole ministry. God had been sharing with Pastor that there is more to living than just earning a living and going about our daily chores.
God keeps revealing the importance of what Pastor has been doing.
There is more to life than earning a living and going about our daily chores. God will provide. This is the spiritual component. When you look back over your life and see the things you have accomplished. Don’t worry. We just don’t have to worry in life. Like we are prone to do". Like I am prone to do.

Rev. Reggie Mitchell came to St. Paul and preached a revival about two months ago. A legacy of Holiness – Reggie preached - so for one of Pastor’s children to come and preach that kind of a message about his legacy of holiness – Pastor had a powerful affect on him and that’s what he has demonstrated all these years.

You know, because God will provide when you look back and see the things you have accomplished, and you know that you had nothing overwhelming to add, that God provided. All we need to do is stay in his will. The way that God brings it around and makes a way out of no way! Things that you may never have thought of.

One of the wonderful things about being here at St Paul is that we came here with 3 young children. The trust that those children have had is based on love and support. They really helped raise the children. And what’s happening today with so many organizations based on helping the children to grow up strong mentally, physically emotionally socially and psychologically. In All those areas, they helped produce those in them. So the success my children have known in life is the product of the nurturing of the wonderful members of Paul.

My grandchildren. My daughter came to Massachusetts with one 2, one 1 and one 3 months old. So it’s that constant nurturing that they also received for the first 10 years in their lives. That’s why they feel St. Paul is their home church. Although they’ve gone with their parents to their own churches, they call St. Paul their home. At a certain point they want to come home on many occasions, like Christmas or have a special friend at Easter time. They return to their home church. What can we say after 30 years of being in the community, as well as trying to give ourselves to the larger connectional church. The wonderful sermons. Some are documented and special like, Let’s have a party?

Q: You mean the Holy Ghost Party sermon?

Mrs Attles: Yes. I guess when he retires he will write and publish more books and be very instrumental in specialty things or activities. Things he has often wanted to do but because of managing the church...I think that will be a joyous time. I don’t want to put words in his mouth.

Pastor: I think you’re doing a fine job. (…laughter). I’ve written two books,
"Money Talks" based on a collection of sermons on tithing and "Fruits of the Spirit".

Pastor said, My son Louis used to share some of my sermons at Turner Theological Seminary in Atlanta [where he received his Masters]. The seminarians there told Lewis to tell his father to write a book [put it down] because the seminarians had tired of asking him about the different points out of my sermons. That’s when I wrote "Fruits of the Spirit".

I thank you both for your thoughtful words and also for allowing and inviting us to keep the door open for future interviews.

Caption:House manager Thelma Hamlett and 15-month-old Cotyia Ransom-Gomes relax in one of St. Paul's residences for the homeless.

Boston Globe December 26, 1988 Author: Paul Hirshson, Globe Staff

CAMBRIDGE -- There's a story behind the creation of every shelter for the homeless, usually one that involves a lot of hard work, untangling bureaucratic snarls, scrambling for money, and soothing the neighbors.

And the story behind the creation of housing for homeless families here -- eight adults and 15 children -- is all that and more. It involves some high-risk capitalism, a lot of get-your-hands-dirty work and the extraordinary faith and quiet persistence of the pastor of St. Paul's AME church, near Central Square.

It is also, as Rev. Leroy Attles describes the effort to build the shelters, "one of the most beautiful expressions of concern for their fellow man I've ever seen.

"And for the fractured families who have found a place here, that expression of concern has made the difference between a holiday at home, and the prospect of no holiday at all.

The story began in 1985 when St. Paul's -- a church in the middle of a changing neighborhood, where well-kept houses stand next to crumbling tenements, and vie for space with rehabbed "yuppie houses" -- was given the opportunity to buy some property.

The building was a former bowling alley located about two blocks from the church on Bishop Allen Drive. "Our school, which was located in the basement of the church, was bulging, it was growing so fast," Attles recalls, so he moved to buy the bowling alley for $625,000. And he had no firm prospects of where he would get the money to buy and fix the building.

The idea was to renovate the two-story, cinderblock structure into classrooms, offices and meeting spaces. When all the plans were finished, the church's two houses -- one a parsonage and one an old boarding house next to the church -- would no longer be needed for offices and meeting rooms. What to do with the houses became a subject for church debate. Rent them, "or do some good," as Attles puts it.

Doing good, in his eyes, meant converting the buildings, both turn-of-the century wood frame dwellings, into comfortable housing for six families in the spacious, three-story parsonage and two in the old rooming house.

The families are ones "who had a bad break," Attles says; losing a job, getting evicted, or suffering a marital breakup or a house fire are some of these "bad breaks.

"Both of the buildings were solid, but showing their age, with ancient furnaces and old pipes and wires in need of updating. Time was short; in the case of the boarding house, the church had less than four weeks to get it ready to qualify for some government money befor the end of the fiscal year in June.

But the race to finish the work on the two buildings, with the aim to have everything ready by the cold weather, is the story behind the story.

Attles had the good fortune to link up with Linsey Lee, the city's resource coordinator for emergency programs. Lee brought a dynamo of energy to the project, lining up dozens of volunteers, businesses and other churches into a concerted effort to renovate these two buildings, installing new kitchens and bathrooms, painting, doing carpentry and landscaping, and making them - more than houses - homes.

Pictures - not just stick-up posters, but art from an expensive shop - draperies, window shades, carpeting, fancy tile, furniture from an antique store, plants and Christmas trees help make it homey. And new furnaces and hot water heaters provide the necessities on a cold day.

The result is as remarkable as the number of people and institutions who pitched in with time or money or goods to help. And, it should be noted that, although St. Paul's is a predominantly black church, the help it received came from every part of the city, from people of all races.

The list of helpers illuminates this aspect: $10,00 came from Harvard University; developer H.J. Davis gave $10,000, too; Christ Church, Episcopal, in Harvard Square, mobilized volunteers and donations; students from Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology donated hours of work; some of the area's most prestigious architectural firms donated professional expertise, and a kitchen cabinetmaker donated custom cabinets. A Framingham firm donated a fire alarm system; Channel 5 and radio station WEEI donated significant amounts of money.

Lee, the resource coordinator, says the outpouring and help and concern was remarkable. "Friends would show up at 11 o'clock at night to put in a couple of hours' work. One of the carpenters who worked with us - Doug Reveille - would sometimes work until 2 in the morning," she recalls. "It was a very inspiring experience.

"The results of the caring show throughout: crocheted bedspreads, throw pillows, Christmas decorations, coffee pots on the stove - all create atmosphere. "We wanted it to be like a home," Attles said, "to help people regain their dignity, their self-esteem.

"One resident, Reggie Ware, lives in the parsonage with his son, Jason, age 5. Ware had been laid off from his job as a computer operator, he said, and had been living with his sister.

"But it got pretty crowded there, sleeping on the floor, and like that," he says. "The people here are beautiful and this is a fine room," he says of the first-floor room he and Jason occupy. Ware is looking for another job, and an apartment, but can stay at the home until he saves enough to pay for the security deposit, first and last month's rent usually required.

Attles, whose wife, Henrietta is a former school committee member, is the father of three and the grandfather of three. He says the residents of the homes are referred through Travelers Aid, and the only restrictions are on active alcohol or drug use. No limit on the residents' stay is imposed, but he estimated that about 18 months would be the maximum. The boarding house opened in June, the parsonage in November, so most residents' stays have been short.

He belives that work on the parsonage is worth about $150,000 and on the boarding house about $30,000, but the amount of volunteer labor makes such calculations inexact.

In reflecting on the need for housing and feeding the less fortunate in society, Attles says: "The churches have to go further in life. It's not predicated on what the government does. The churches should be about feeding the hungry and housing the poor. That's what the gospel mandates. The Word says, that when you've 'done it for the least of the little ones, then you've done it for me.

Boston Globe

July 4, 1988

Author: David Arnold, Globe Staff


They said the silence was overpowering.For the last 10 days in June, about 30 volunteers had spent most of their waking hours amid the clamor of buzz saws, hammers and welding torches to convert a dilapidated dwelling at 41 Columbia St. into the city's newest transitional house for homeless families.

On Friday, July 1, some of the volunteers sat in a sun-flooded room that smelled of freshly cut flowers and drying plaster as they talked about a union between church and state that bordered, they mused, on miraculous. A job estimated at $25,000 and targeted for completion in 6 months had been finished for free in less than two weeks. Union and nonunion hands had worked side by side. At least two dozen local merchants had donated furnishings, architects had donated plans, engineers had donated calculations.

The shelter is a partnership between the city's Department of Human Services, which provided the planning and some guidance through municipal and state paperwork, and St. Paul AME Church, which provided the property and sense of mission."No budget, no money. We stepped way out on faith with this one," said Rev. Richard Richardson, who worked closely with Leroy Attles Sr., pastor of St. Paul.

The demand to work fast was unexpectedly tied to the countdown of fiscal year 1988, the last day of which was Thursday, June 30.

An average of 16 families are temporarily without shelter at any one time. St. Paul had already planned to convert another church-owned dwelling into housing for the homeless.

But the Department of Public Welfare, which was going to foot much of the bill for the church's $150,000 project, could not guarantee funding this year in light of the state's revenue shortfall.Two weeks ago, the state, St. Paul and the Cambridge Department of Human Services struck a deal: If the project could begin with two families living in a renovated, up-to-code facility by the close of fiscal year 1988, then funding for the project would be carried into the next year. 41 Columbia St. is a duplex that had served as an administrative office for St. Paul.

In this way, the state could guarantee funds for St. Paul's plan to renovate a larger building nearby into a six-family shelter."I'm not sure any of us really believed 12 days ago that we could pull it off," said Lindsay Lee, resources coordinator for the city's Department of Emergency Services, her hair still touched with blotches of white paint.

When he heard the deal, Philip Mangano, director of emergency services, thought: "My God, how are we going to get it all done?"

"Little did I know at the time that it was a prayer," he said.With the help of Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy 2d, the proponents found volunteer help from the Local 40 Carpenter's Union and Robert Pann Co., a Cambridge plumbing company."

Residents of this city have kept my dad in business and provided me a college education," said Michael Pann, a plumber on the job. "It was the least I could do in appreciation."

Sterritt Lumber Co. provided the wood, Ox-Line Paints dropped off the primer, Pill Inc. -- a hardware store -- came up with the smoke detectors, Christ Church offered manpower, the S & S Deli brought lunches, Kennedy Studios donated framed artwork for the walls, and, prior to two families taking up residence Thursday night, Le Jardin even supplied cut flowers -- just to name a few of the participating local merchants and churches.

"I was astonished how people respond when you actually reach out," Lee said. "They're all out there. They're just waiting to be asked.

All God's children have shoes