The Anderson family members have been stewards of Hope Community Church in Amherst for the past 50 years and more. Rev. LaVerne W. Anderson, Sr., along with his wife Dr. Norma Jean Anderson and their children LaVerne Jr. (Chuck), Carlos, Rhonda and Crystal, founded the reopening of the church in 1970, after it had been closed for some time.
In the beginning years of Pastor LaVerne Anderson’s pastorship, Hope was filled with African American members from the local township, along with graduate and undergraduate students at UMASS-Amherst, Smith College, Hampshire College, Amherst College and Mt. Holyoke College. Services were packed to overflowing, and it became necessary for the church to rent the Amherst Grange Hall for Sunday Worship services. With three chefs as members, after-church food fellowships became one of the talks of the town.
The six Andersons were quite a powerful music ministry in their own right, with a seemingly endless number of “saved and sanctified” Pentecostal songs that rocked the House. All of them Black Church singers since toddlers. Dr. Norma Jean on piano, Carlos and Rhonda beating tambourines, Crystal, Chuck and Pastor LaVerne clapping in two-four time. All of their feet stomping. All of them rocking. Every one of them taken over by the Holy Spirit. It was a sight to behold with a feeling to be felt. Rev. LaVerne served as Pastor for 18 years, from 1970 until his transition in 1988.
Rev. Carlos then served as Pastor for the following 20 years, from 1988 until 2008, when he retired to pass the torch of leadership on to Rev. Crystal, who served as Pastor for the next eight years, from 2008 until her transition in 2016. At that time his sister Rhonda, by now Rev. Carlos’ sole remaining family member, and not herself an ordained minister, took over the leadership role of the Church’s “Vision Keeper,” Administrator and Minister of Music. Sister Rhonda made her transition on September 27, 2020. In the beginning of 2021 Rev. Anderson, who had been the Pastor Emeritus of Hope Community Church in the years since his retirement in 2008, during which time he would be present to bring the Sunday Sermon under the leadership of Pastor Crystal followed by Sister Rhonda, has now returned as Pastor of Hope Community Church once again. Learn more about Rev. Carlos.
Throughout the years each of the Anderson Stewards of Hope Community Church has brought their own particular styles, concentrations, flavors and gospels to the Community. Each has followed his or her own leading of the Spirit in determining what good news gospel they will forward.
Rev. LaVerne forwarded the Gospel of Freedom. His was an emphasis on freedom from the dogmas, restrictions, biases, judgments, condemnations and hypocrisies of fundamental traditional churches at large, and in many Black Churches in particular. His was a loving God, fully and unshakably in love with His Children.
Rev. Carlos would forward the Gospel of Oneness. His emphasis was on the Attainment of the Mind of Christ, through the transformation of our own minds from separation from, and fear of, God to At-One-ment with God and with the Love, Light and Power of Creator-God that Has Created us in Its Own Image and after Its Very Own Likeness. The Prodigal’s Return Home was his Area of Concentration.
Pastor Rev. Crystal would forward the Gospel of Salvation through the Success of the Resurrection. Her entire ministry, she would often declare, could be summed up in two words…”Jesus Saves!” Her concentration would be on the Finished Work of the Great Sacrifice on the cross of Jesus Christ. That it rendered “the Enemy’s” seeming power null and void, that we have no more need to fear nor to feel guilty nor ashamed, because all our sins have been washed away. Praise would be the avenue of our expression of appreciation for this gift of our redemption and salvation.
Sister Rhonda would forward the Gospel of Grace. Hers would be a concentration on the “unearned and unmerited” love of God for His Children. Hers was a God who loves us just as we are, blemishes, shortcomings, dysfunctions and all, as we are God’s Creations and are loved by God, with unconditional love. She would urge us to receive this grace bestowed upon us by our God and to forward it.
Rev. Carlos has now returned as Pastor to forward the Gospel he came to preach when he became Pastor in 1988.
Each of the Good News Gospels that have been forwarded by the various members of the Anderson Family Clan overlap and include the others. And they work in relationship with one another to form a beautiful Whole body of Gospels proclaiming the Good News.
Which is that we are the Created Ones of the One Creator. That we are not alone. That we are loved beyond measure. That God is with us. On the mountain top and in the valley. In our times of victory and in our times of defeat. In our dancing and in our grieving. In our joy and in our sorrow. Every day and in every way God is within us. Always and in All Ways God is in residence within us, expressing Himself through us, revealing Himself as us. As each and every one of us. Regardless of the appearances of things seen. No matter what it looks like.
Divisive doctrines are the fundamental, foundational cause of our world’s ailments. We will not support such doctrines. Our doctrine will be the doctrine of peace and of love and of inclusion and welcoming and honoring the Christ of each of us. It will be a doctrine of our shared union in the Unity of our Oneness with our Creator, Source of All-That-IS.
And we will sing. And we will shout. And we will rejoice. And we will praise our God and our Jesus and our Holy Spirit also known as the Holy Ghost. And we will “Stir up the Good Gift that is within us!” as was recommended to us by our brother Paul of the Holy Scriptures in the Book of Life. “Praise is an attitude of gratitude caught on fire!” Rev Carlos has preached over the many decades, “Praise is Gratitude caught on living fire!” this reverend loves to preach.
And this prayer from the heart this Created One loves to shout out to his Creator… “God bless everybody in the whole wide world! WITHOUT EXCEPTION!!!”
Learn more about the Andersons: