Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Pew Is the Place Where Life Begins

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Pew Is the Place Where Life Begins

Article excerpt

There's not a gospel song too long or a prayer too small for Newtown native Allean Wilson. Her place in the world has always been the church, right-side aisle toward the back, just in front of an artificial fig tree and stained glass window.

When Wilson turned 90 in March, she praised God's grace that kept her going and professed her love for the church. She has been a member of Payne Chapel since 1940.

In that pew, she sat and recalled 25 years of fervent praying on Wednesday mornings with a few other believers, women who just cannot wait until the next Sunday service to worship.

Those who have hung around Newtown long enough remember Wilson's late husband and gospel singer, Charles Wilson Sr., and they know her son, Charles Wilson Jr.

"Back in the day, we had to walk to church from where we lived," she said. "We walked from Newtown to Overtown, from 27th Street and Osprey to Fifth and Central Avenue."

The close-knit congregation followed the church when Payne Chapel moved in 1975 to a newer building at 1910 Central Ave.

Years later, Wilson, Ora Waters and Bernice Taylor started meeting up on Wednesdays, declaring their sisterhood of prayer needed to spend time with each other and their faith.

"Well, we think prayer should go on more than just one day of the week," Taylor said.

As they talked, Wilson sang verses intermittently from memorized hymns, nodded to agree with Taylor and started in on one of her favorites, "Just a closer walk with Thee."

"You need something more to lean on, something to carry you through the week, and that's what this is all about on Wednesdays," Waters said. "Whoever wants to sing, sings, and whoever wants to pray, prays."

On March 1, when Wilson turned 90, her church sisters, along with 40 friends and family from the Newtown neighborhood, gathered inside her two-bedroom Newtown home for a birthday tea.

Wilson said with modesty, "It was really special."

But she misses her husband. They would have celebrated 69 years of marriage this year, and she misses bygone days, walking through Newtown to visit neighbors to share in prayer.

"In fact, I was walking along one day with a girlfriend and we passed this house, and Charles Wilson Sr. …

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