Pastor Dr. Joseph Stafford founded Heavenly Hall Full Gospel Church in 1982 with the mission to demonstrate God’s love and to provide a church home for the community. Heavenly Hall, located at 4012 Poplar St., is a church home to many and a “gospel temple for all people,” as Pastor Stafford describes it.
Heavenly Hall’s first pastor was Rev. Queen E. Helen and later Bishop Frasier succeeded her. In 1986, Ref. Stafford, took on the role of leadership of the church he founded. With a focus on the youth, the members of Heavenly Hall focus their outreach through their principles: communication, respect and truth. Along with their efforts focusing on the youth and families, Heavenly Hall has a Community and Education Center, where they provide assistance to the youth and low income families. They provide services at very low rates.
“We have a Christian day care center where we do outreach and have initiatives ‘from welfare to work fair’, “Pastor Stafford said. “We take care of their babies as well as do on the job training—we really work with them.”
Along with their training programs, Heavenly Hall also has a senior citizen program. They take seniors, age 55 and up and an afterschool program with children from age five to 16.
“We take from 55 and up and we give them a new outlook in a different area through the day care setting.”
Heavenly Hall works with the Free Library of Philadelphia to provide computer class training to the congregation and surrounding community. The free classes are open to everyone of all ages with programs specifically geared towards both the youth and seniors. Classes are held daily from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays.
Pastor Stafford is proud of his church’s strong passion for uplifting and getting out to the community.
“They are dedicated and as a church, we really teach,” he said. “We have a really large amount of members and we have an outreach community development center as well.”
From initially operating as a club—to then transforming into a church home for the community, the building of Heavenly Hall has undergone drastic changes. Pastor Stafford reflected on being “saved” in 1976. After being saved, he was later inspired to transform the club building into “what God led me to do for the community,” he explained.
As part of that community work initiative, Heavenly Hall orchestrates various programs including; Career Development and Skill Building, Community Development, Community Clean-Up, Summer School Programs, Low Income Family Services and Senior Citizen and Handicap Outreach Programs.
Their projected plan for their learning center for children and adults includes having an area of focus in: reading, math, english, science, history, music, communications, business and sports. In addition to their projected plan, their community improvement program involves; housing development, anti-graffiti and recreational activities.
Family, loved ones and children continue to be important values that are encouraged throughout the walls of Heavenly Hall. Pastor Stafford and the congregation aim to incorporate these values through their services and through their continuous work in the community. As an important part of their church covenant states:
“We also engage to maintain family devotions; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances’ to walk circumspectly in the word’ to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements and, exemplary in our department; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drink as a beverage, and to be zealous to our efforts to advance the Kingdom of our Savior.”
Since its founding 31 years ago, Pastor Stafford and Heavenly Hall incorporate their covenant in their everyday work and through their teaching of the word of God.
Pastor Stafford is proud of his church history and their development and growth. Since being in leadership of Heavenly Hall for the past 27 years, he is happy to see how his church has progressed throughout the years.
“It’s a very detailed part of my life,” Pastor Stafford said. “It’s important our church does not just talk about our goals but to demonstrate it—God is love. We have to be a servant—to be a giver, is better to be a receiver, the lesson comes through the word of God.”