In 1979, the Gospel Experience Church was established by its current Pastor and Founder, Dr. Richard K. Hammonds. Since 1981, the Gospel Experience Church, located at 3101 NE Madison Avenue, has thrived in the Averyville district. At the current location, members built a new sanctuary, added a new addition to the sanctuary, and purchased land to provide ample parking for members and visitors.
In 2020, Pastor Hammonds envisioned planting a memorial garden in remembrance of their late church mother, Alma Prater, and three of their young people, Brian Smith, Taylor McClain, and Christian Atkins. He wanted this garden to honor the former members who have gone on to glory and who contributed to the history and development of the Gospel Experience Church. Mother Alma Prater worked tirelessly on the Pastor’s Aide committee and was the eldest church mother. Brian Smith was a member of Gospel’s Experience’s security team. Taylor McClain led the wonderful praise dancers. Christian Atkins sang with power, compassion and praise. She was known for her infectious smile even in the midst of adversity.
Shortly after eulogizing Mother Alma Prather, Pastor Hammonds approached Mother Myrna Little and the daughter of Mother Prather with his vision of the memorial garden. Mother Myrna, affectionately called by Pastor and members, set forth to bring the vision to fruition. Eventually, she and her husband, Brother Melvin Little, Mother Ruth Brown-Williams, Sister Gloria Smith and Sister Henri Oliver produced a beautiful garden.
Pastor Hammonds and the members of Gospel Experience are so proud of the completion of their work. He sees the memorial garden as the pride of the Averyville district and a “tourist attraction on the Northside.” He is also proud to have the Gospel Experience Church as an integral part of the Averyville district and hopes to be a part of the community for years to come.
The memorial garden is located on the corners of Madison and Sloan Streets. In the garden, signs have been placed in remembrance of Mother Alma Prater, Brian Smith, Taylor McClain and Christian Atkins. “May the memorial garden always represent the members of the past, hope for the future, inspiration to others, and a beacon of light for all those who visit or travel by our memorial garden,” said Pastor Hammonds.