As he welcomed guests to the dedication ceremony of the C. D. Brooks Prayer Chapel in the North American Division (NAD)headquarters in Columbia, Maryland, United States, Alvin Kibble, NAD vice president, said, “This chapel is our mission control.”
On June 7, approximately 70 NAD employees, Brooks family members, and guests heard from various church leaders who shared memories of the renowned Adventist evangelist, C. D. Brooks, who passed away June 5, 2016, at age 85.
Brooks’s career as pastor, mentor, and evangelist spanned more than six decades. His legacy continues to have effect in nearly all the world’s continents through the millions of people he reached in preaching and ministry, the 16 churches he established, and numerous ministers he mentored.
While retired, Brooks accepted a call to serve as chaplain to the NAD staff in 2013. “Many of our employees went to Elder Brooks for counsel, marital counsel, prayer, spiritual upliftment, or when they felt alone,” said Alex Bryant, NAD executive secretary. “They always left his office with a clear focus, more encouraged and hopeful.”
“He served in such a magnanimous way that lifted our office, lifted our building,” adds Bryant. “Many of our employees may not have known him as an evangelist, but they knew him as a spiritual man of God, a servant of God, [who was] full of wisdom, integrity, and truth.”
A common theme shared at the chapel dedication was the effect of Brooks’s presence and, more specifically, his walk. “There was a way Elder Brooks walked—deliberate, methodical, focused, missional,” Bryant continued. “He could change the atmosphere of a room just by his presence.”
“C. D. walked up and down the halls of the North American Division like a prince,” said Dan Jackson, NAD president, who said Brooks always greeted him in the halls with encouragement and a reminder of his continuous prayers for him. “He was a person of great dignity, but also great humility. Wherever we went in the office, he blessed people. Whenever he talked to people, they were blessed.”
Ken Denslow, executive assistant to the president of the NAD and coordinator of the new NAD headquarters building project, said, “Right from the beginning we had anticipated having a prayer chapel in the building.”
“It’s important for a religious institution to have a place that is set aside specifically for worship and prayer,” Denslow added. “There are many places [where] worship and prayer take place in the building, but this is a special place—it’s a house of prayer.”
Before the grand opening of the division’s new corporate headquarters, a contest was held to determine a name for the chapel. According to Denslow, ten people entered the name “C. D. Brooks,” and upon official vote, his name received overwhelming support from division employees.
“The reason this is the C. D. Brooks [chapel] is because he was a caregiver to the North American Division staff. He was a beloved chaplain,” said Denslow.
The chapel contains two pieces of art, a stained-glass window and a portrait of Brooks, which were unveiled during the ceremony.
The stained glassed was created by Clayton Connolly, an Adventist artist whose art can be found in the administrative offices of the Hawaii Conference and North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC). His largest work is located on the campus of Union College, in the Collegeview Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. The assembling effort was managed by Monte Church, former director for NPUC Native Ministries.
The glass window portrays Jesus as the good shepherd, surrounded by nine sheep, representing the division’s nine unions. A unique feature of the glass is its “hidden” message—Morse code borders the glass with the message, “Feed My Sheep, NAD.”
Toward the end of the dedication program, guests were invited to sing Brooks’s favorite hymn, “When We All Get to Heaven.” His wife, Walterene, spoke on the importance of the blessed hope of Christ’s return.
“This is wonderful, we’ll never forget it, but there’s going to be one day when we can be all together in heaven with Jesus,” she said. “I want to be able to tell him [Brooks], I want my children next to him, so we can say, ‘Guess what happened at NAD? They honored you for your service, your work, and what you did in God’s name. They honored you because you believed in Jesus, and you preached on many continents, and by God’s grace many people accepted his message.’ ”
Brooks’s son, Charles Jr., also known as “Skip” Brooks, called attention to the recent anniversary of his father’s passing, and he left NAD employees with a charge.
“June 5th is no longer a day of sadness for us, but a monument pointing toward that better day, the day of resurrection and renewing,” he said. “So, in memory of [my father] … the man who lived what he preached, I charge you, NAD, to hold up the light, stay faithful, make good use of this chapel, and pray a lot.”