ONE OF Birmingham’s most well known female church leaders, Pastor Yvonne Brooks, is playing a major role in empowering women via Esther’s Academy, a groundbreaking course launched in 2000.
Inspired by the Book of Esther in the Bible, Pastor Yvonne Brooks, co-pastor of New Jerusalem Apostolic church, Aston, Birmingham, felt led to start a seven-week programme to help women discover their purpose, be successful in all areas of their life and draw them closer to God.
More than 60 attended the first Esther’s Academy program which covered topics like finance, healthy living, relationships, personal grooming, styling and developing a close relationship with God.
But since its start, more than 1,000 women from across the world have completed the Esther’s Academy program which is accredited by the Open College Network.
Pastor Yvonne explained: “We aim to impact women from all walks of life by bringing out their latent abilities, developing their gifts, talents and preparing them to step onto the world stage!”
There’ll be a new student intake in Birmingham and London in March. The course is also taught in Dunstable, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Esther’s Academy is set to launch in America and Jamaica later this year. In fact, Pastor Yvonne would take it across the world if she could.
Women have found the course practical, cathartic and transformative. Pastor Yvonne said: “The consensus is that the programme is anointed and life changing. This has remained the opinion of the women who have graduated from the programme as well as those who have taught on the programme.”
Known for her style, warmth and humour, Pastor Yvonne was born to Christian parents in Jamaica, the fifth of eight children she arrived in Britain in 1964. She became a Christian at 11, and by her teens was singing in the choir and doing solos.
After completing nursing training, she worked as a Mental Health Community nurse until 2004, when she gave it up to work full time alongside her husband Bishop Melvin Brooks. Pastor Yvonne never dreamed she’d be a church leader. “I grew up in a time when women’s role in the church was limited. I knew I could be active in church, but never thought I would have the opportunity to sit around the table where decisions were being made.”
Three years into her marriage, Bishop Brooks asked her to care for a small group. It was through leading the group that Pastor Yvonne realised church leadership was possible. She accepted the call in the 1990s, and has never looked back.
In 2017 New Jerusalem church hit the news headlines when Pastor Yvonne’s eldest son Adam was stabbed during a service protecting a church member from a knife attack. Adam’s action saved the church member’s life and the assailant was arrested. He later died in prison.
The incident taught Yvonne a number of life lessons – the most important one was about family. She said: “Cherish your family members and don’t take them for granted. Also, the sense of how fragile life is and how easily your own life and the lives of those you care about can be lost. The thing that touched us the most was hearing how many churches stopped in their tracks to either come to us or pray for us.”
But now Pastor Yvonne is excited about life, her faith and Esther’s Academy as she is broadening its scope to now add a session about politics, to inspire women.
As far as she’s concerned this is going to be great. “2019 is the year to rise up and step into what God has for me.”
For more information visit esthersacademy.co.uk