Sampson County minister The Rev. Alonzo Bragg is coming home this weekend to celebrate with family and friends the journey he has been on for the past 35 years. It will be, friends, say, a time of fellowship and worship.
On Saturday, Aug. 18, at 4 p.m., at the Warner Temple A. M. E. Zion Church, Braggs will walk again down memory lane and sing several of his favorites. On Sunday, Aug. 19, at 11 a.m., Braggs will deliver his anniversary message at his present appointment, Mount Hebron in Hallsboro. All are invited to attend these events and share in this anniversary celebration. Whether a song or sermon, the word will be the only thing that will last.
Braggs was born in 1960 in the Community Hospital to the late Edward Earl Braggs and Idell Nixon Braggs, the second in a set of identical twins. He grew up in the projects of Jervey and lived on the corner of 8th and Meares Street. While there he attended the William Hooper, Roland Grise, Williston, and graduated from Hoggard in 1978. Prior to graduation he preached his first sermon around the corner from his home at Saint Andrews African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
Many will remember a teenage boy who went from church to church singing on various programs in the community. He sung with the Patricia Waddell and a choral ensemble out of First Baptist, the Community Choir out of Union Baptist, and with Rolman Wilson and the Singing Soul Stirrers. During the first year of his ministry Braggs preached each 2nd Sunday at Saint Andrews and each 4th Sunday at Walters Chapel in Bolton. This young preacher joined the United States Army and served for the next 20 years until he was honorably retired in 1998. While serving home and abroad, Alonzo continued to preach and sing all over the world. He organized an A. M. E. Zion Church in Germany to provide service to the soldiers who were station in the small community where he was assigned. As a communications-electronics soldier, he hosted a 2 hour radio show in Honduras, he served as an acting chaplain on Korea and during the first tour to Germany he served as a certified lay leader of the Chapel and musician.
When Braggs returned home from his last overseas assignment, he began his roll of pastoral appointments in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, these included: Dove Chapel in Aamon, Big Zion in Kenansville, Smith Chapel in Parkersburg, Saint Stephens in Garland, Mount Zion in Elizabethtown, Bethel in Stantonsburg, and Mount Hebron in Hallsboro.
As pastor, he has always tried to serve the local community and establish ecumenical relations with area churches. As a result, he was blessed to serve in several leadership roles in the civic circles, including health advisory boards, Rotary Clubs and educational committees, to name a few of myriad roles he’s played.
Thirty-five years later, this preacher has come home to celebrate his journey. He has always been a fan of traditional gospel and loved to sing those songs that are rarely heard in church settings. His response is; “It was these songs that brought me through when I need encouragement the most.”