The Rev. Shirley Ann Brown combined her training as a licensed counselor with her divinity degree to reach out to people, tending to their spiritual needs as well as their physical needs, providing clothes, food, tutoring and trips to a country camp where children could fish, camp and enjoy the great outdoors.
She founded Victorious Faith Evangelistic Outreach more than 30 years ago and served as executive director. Her ministry took her from Carnegie to public housing complexes all over Allegheny County, to street preaching and to Nairobi, Kenya, said her husband, the Rev. Charles Brown, who met her about 35 years ago.
Rev. Shirley Brown, 72, died Wednesday of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at Kindred Hospital in Oakdale.
Her husband, who is pastor and operations director at the Evangelistic Outreach, said Rev. Brown remained active until health problems slowed her down four or five years ago.
A native of Brownsville, Fayette County, Rev. Brown had attended Community College of Allegheny County and qualified for a real estate license, but she never used it. Instead, she earned a divinity degree 35 years ago from the Greater Works Outreach school of ministry in Monroeville. She had also gotten counseling training in North Carolina, which she used to work in rehabilitation counseling with people who had substance abuse problems.
The couple went to public housing complexes all over the county, with an emphasis on working with children, Rev. Charles Brown said. "We tried to give them things they could not learn in secular school, including spirituality and sharing, caring and respect."
Working with children, Rev. Shirley Brown lined up classes over a broad range of subjects, including evangelism, cooking and summer arts programs. She lined up fishing trips, field trips to a black history museum in Baltimore and trips to a country camp called Prayer Mountain.
"She was very active in Carnegie" and had her eye on a big, run-down house on Idlewild Avenue there.
"It was slated to be torn down and she managed to convince someone to give it to her ministry," in the mid-1980s, her husband said. They rehabbed it and dubbed it "The Miracle House," and it was available for services and programs.
In 2000 she decided she wanted to take a group on a mission trip to Africa.
"Her doctors said 'no' but the Lord said 'go,' and we took 12 people to Kenya for two weeks," her husband said.
The group preached and drilled wells there and later sent cars to the people there, Rev. Charles Brown said.
Survivors in addition to her husband include four daughters, Chrystal Matuscak of Donora, April Detwiler of South Carolina, Sandy Martin of Northridge, Calif., and Charlotte Bland of Pasadena, Calif.; four sons, Frank Detwiler of North Carolina, Todd Detwiler of Sheraden, Cory Detwiler of Sheraden and Stanley Brown of Seattle; four sisters, Dorothy Ross of Donora, Patricia Barrett of Whitsett, Fayette County, Ruth Singleton of Whitehall and Virginia Howard of Brownsville; one brother, Walter Edwards of Rehoboth, Mass.; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Friends will be received Tuesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Solid Rock Foundation Ministries, 435 Broadway Ave., Carnegie, where services will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. Arrangements are by Leo J. Henney Funeral Home in Carnegie.
Linda Wilson Fuoco: email@example.com or 412-722-0087.