My mother, Florelle Garrett Jackson, the lady in the center,
was a Sunday school teacher at Napoleon Avenue Church
for many years; I don't know the names of the other ladies
in this photo, but I believe the child on the far left, is Ford
Willoughby, III.
Methodist Youth Fellowship meeting; left to right:
Ruth-Anne Hoffstadt, Donice Alverson,
Nancy Jackson and Jimmy Shelby
Sunday School Classes

Photo on left:  my son, Jim Brister, is
on far right.  Unfortunately, I don't
know the names of the other children
in these pictures, or the names of the
teachers in the photos below.
I took the photos below in July, 2006.
Seldom has a youngster had a spiritual advisor and role model as excellent as Rev. Alverson.  It was with
great sadness that I read of his passing.  He had evacuated from his home in the Lake Vista neighborhood of
New Orleans in advance of Hurricane Katrina and that section of the city was badly flooded.  He was still in
southwest LA when he died four months later.  It can be said of him that he made a difference.
Rev. Donice Alverson, retired pastor, activist

Tuesday, January 31, 2006, The Times-Picayune

The Rev. Donice Watson Alverson, a retired Methodist pastor and civic activist, died Thursday at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in
Gonzales, where he evacuated because of Hurricane Katrina.  He was 86.
Pastor Alverson was born in Flat Rock, Alabama and moved to New Orleans in 1956.
He graduated from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.  He gave up plans to pursue a doctorate of divinity at
Boston University to accept the post of pastor to the Epps-Pioneer circuit of rural churches in northeast Louisiana.
Pastor Alverson served as pastor of Sevier Memorial Methodist Church in Ferriday from 1950 to 1956 and was active in the
anti-Gov. Earl Long movement.  He also campaigned against corruption in Gov. Robert Kennon's administration and opposed U. S.
Sen. Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist hearings.
In 1956, Pastor Alverson became pastor of Napoleon Avenue Methodist Church.  He was active in the spiritual lives of local
students and was an outspoken desegregation advocate, preaching the need for compassion and opening his congregation to
people of all races.
He went on to serve as pastor of Lake Vista United Methodist Church from 1972 until he retired in 1987.  Pastor Alverson also
was the Protestant chaplain at Southern Baptist Hospital for many years, and served as a minister of visitation at First Methodist
Church in New Orleans as well as a guest preacher at local churches.
He was an Air Force veteran of World War II.
Survivors include his wife, Jewell West Alverson, two daughters, Donice Alverson and Margaret Alverson, a brother, Robert
Alverson of Birmingham, AL, a sister, Mirial Alverson Lowe of Florence, AL and six grandchildren.
In the years when my mother and I attended, there were many descendants of the
original German members who were still there:  the names Kriege, Hoffstadt, Kuhnell,
Kuenstler, Hinrichs and Meyers come to mind.

A flood of memories comes, as well:  Homecoming Day picnics on the lawn; Methodist
Youth Fellowship meetings in the Recreation Building---where I met the first boy I ever
dated---and where my friend, Mary Clare, would so often join me, favoring the MYF
meetings over her own CYO meetings a block down the street, at St. Matthias Catholic
Church;  Sunday morning services in the sanctuary, watching, mesmerized, as the sun
streamed through the beautiful stained glass windows;  Sunday evening services, when,
during Mardi Gras season, our much loved minister, Rev. Don Alverson, would bring his
sermon abruptly to an end as soon as he heard the familiar police sirens announcing the
arrival of the night parade on Freret Street, a block away;  gathering on the lawn with
other church members on Mardi Gras day to watch King Rex come down Napoleon
Avenue and the "picnic" lunch spread out in the Recreation Building for everyone to
share;  a tapestry of christenings, weddings, funerals;  the friends I knew so well, both
mine and my mother's---their stories, their lives, their faith.
Memories are precious things.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Unfortunately, the church sustained heavy interior damage because of the levee failures,
but it is structurally sound and, thankfully, the stained glass windows survived.  The future
of the church is in doubt.

9/2007:  I'm sorry to say that the United Methodist Church has made the decision to
decommission Napoleon Avenue Church.  I've heard from Rev. Alverson's daughter, Donice,
who let me know about the conference's decision.  As far as I know, no announcement has
been made regarding the fate of the buildings.  This is very sad news.
This photograph was taken during World War II,
when Napoleon Church was used as a Red Cross
Center; photo by Alexander Allison.
After the levee failures of 2005 heavily damaged the
church's interior, the United Methodist Church made the
decision to sell  Napoleon Avenue Church.  I received a
message from one of the members of a mission team who
had come to New Orleans to help renovate the buildings
for the new owners -- the congregation of All Nations
Fellowship, an Assembly of God church.  He told me that
the Methodist Church had retained the beautiful stained
glass windows (except the one at the rear of the
sanctuary--which would be the front of the building, the
window that can be seen in the photo on the right).  He
was kind enough to share photos he'd taken of the
church.  I'm trying to find out if or where the stained glass
windows have been placed; if you know, I'd appreciate
hearing from you.  Go to the bottom of the page for some
pictures of the church taken during the renovation.   
The photographs below were kindly shared by Ryan Johnson, taken during the renovation of the
church after it was sold in 2008.  For those of you not familiar with renovations following a flood, it's
not only the damage that occurs from the flood waters, but from the mold that quickly accumulates in
the conditions before and after the flood waters recede.  The water was about 4 feet deep, but all of
the walls, floor to ceiling, had to be stripped, treated and repainted.  It's hard to imagine from these
photos, but the sanctuary was once very beautiful.  Now, thankfully, it will be again.
The only original stained glass window remaining in the sanctuary.
Taken from the rear choir loft looking toward the pulpit.
I don't know if they would have been salvageable, but I'm amazed that the Napoleon
congregation didn't attempt to save the historic membership roll looks as
if everything in the church office was just left there.
I believe the organ may still be in the choir loft behind the
pulpit, but it's difficult to tell.  I wonder if it can be salvaged.  
I've been told that it was one of the finest in the city.
Left, the stairs in the sanctuary building; above, looking toward
the rear of the church.  The mahogany pews are still there and,
since they're being protected, apparently, will be used.
Left & above, a Sunday school room in the sanctuary
building.  I believe the room with the fireplace was the
Emma Kriege Bible Classroom.  Below, one of the
pictures that was left behind.
Right, a photo of the volunteers.  
I'm so grateful that the building was
purchased and spared.  I hope the
new congregation will flourish and
enjoy many years there.
~ ~ ~
However, it will always be
Napoleon Avenue Methodist
Church to me.  And the ghosts of
the good folks who loved the old
church for so many years will
continue to gather on Sunday
mornings and take their places in
their regular pews.
Napoleon Avenue United Methodist Church is the church in which I was confirmed and where my
son, Jim, was Christened.  I was ten years old when my mother and I started attending this lovely
old church in the heart of the city ("The church with a heart, in the heart of the city") and remained
an active member for about twenty years.  (See photos below.)

The church was founded by German immigrant, Rev. Peter Schmucker, in the early 1840's.  Rev.
Schmucker had traveled to New Orleans specifically to establish German Methodism in the city.  He
bought property on Erato Street and a church was built and in 1843, Rev. Carl Bremer was
appointed as the first pastor of the First German Methodist Church.  About a dozen years later, a
new church was built on Dryades Street and replaced by another building in approximately 1860.  A
dozen years later, yet another church building was erected on Franklin Street and, a few years
later, they merged with the congregation of the St. Charles Avenue Methodist Church.

Requiring larger facilities, the church purchased property on Napoleon Avenue in 1920.  Two years
later, the new church, which is the building still in use today, was completed.  It was dedicated on
January 7, 1923.  The Meyers family, prominent members of the church, donated a large portion of
the $120,000 cost of construction.

Among the building's most impressive features are the beautiful stained glass windows and a
Moeller pipe organ with more than 500 pipes.  I have yet to see stained glass windows more lovely
than the ones in the sanctuary of Napoleon Avenue Church.