Christ Community Baptist Church, Inc. celebrated its 40th anniversary with a weekend full of festivities. The anniversary included praise and worship through a concert and banquet held at The Drexelbrook.
The Rev. Arthur R. White, senior pastor of CCBC, presided over the celebration.
“It felt great and I felt it lifted the whole congregation,” he said. “These events this weekend helped to bond us and helped to connect us more deeply and give everybody an essential pride over how we got from South Philadelphia to here and why has the community emphasis been so consistently put before the congregation.”
The late Rev. Dr. Laurance G. Henry founded CCBC in 1972. Services were initially held on the dance floor of the Musician Hall. A recognition service was held on Feb. 21, 1972 and in the summer, the church bought a former synagogue and made it their new home. Since then, CCBC has made it its mission to be a presence in its East Parkside Neighborhood.
White became the pastor in 1978 following Henry’s death. White, who has a doctorate in ministry, spoke of his 30 years of service to the church and community. One of CCBC’s mantras is that God sends them on a missional assignment for their neighborhood and beyond.
“I’ve been able to bring them together more and to focus them and clarify what the mission is in the community and why the church exists,” White said. “What has sustained me is a sense of purpose and a sense of knowing that God has sent me there to serve.”
White said he has tried to be a pastor that would make his flock obedient to their purpose of being Christ centered.
“The church understands itself to be on assignment,” he said. “She’s on assignment by God to deliver the gospel where we are situated in very concrete ways and to minister to the community and be there. The church is small, but not too small, but small enough so that there can be a sense of connectiveness and people knowing your name.
“The church is committed to trying to express Christ in the most simplest ways that we can,” White added. “So, it’s a friendly church. It’s a community church. It’s a loving church.”
Christine H. Lindsey is one of the founding members. In fact, her brother was the late Henry who helped to organize the church. The anniversary celebrations took on a greater meaning for the 85-year-old congregant.
“It was a lively church service,” she said.
Lindsey is a deaconess at the church now and felt the anniversary captured the church’s spirit. She also spoke highly of her brother’s successor.
“He’s a good teacher,” she said. “He gives you a good message and its biblically based but as a pastor, he is for the people. He visits the sick every week.”
Marjorie Ferron has been a member of CCBC for more than 26 years and is the church treasurer. She shared in the compliments for White. She said he was honorable and stood by her side through difficult times.
“He pays attention to each individual,” Ferron said. “He knows their names and families. He’s committed to us and will travel far to take care of us.
“He lives by the word. He teaches us by the word and he sets a great example for everybody to follow,” she added.
Ferron invited others in the community to come and worship with the church and experience White’s preaching for themselves.
“It’s a loving church and we get that from him,” she said. “He shows love and chare for all of God’s people.
“The church is a very loving, open-hearted church,” Ferron added. “When you come in the door, you’ll feel the love when you come in the door. When you come to our church, you’ll feel welcomed. You feel like you’re at home.”
Khalil Bundy is a youth minister at CCBC and credited the church for helping to turn his life around.
“Pastor White is a dynamic preacher,” he said. “He’s taught me a lot about the word. He’s taught me a lot about the word because my background wasn’t in the word of God for most of my life. That wasn’t really what I was into.
“And just to come to Christ Community and here the words of Pastor White every week is a privilege and it’s not to be taken lightly,” he said.
Bundy was one of the co-chairs of the 40th anniversary committee.
“We wanted to highlight the church’s history and how far we’ve come and we wanted to highlight members who had been there that whole time and people who had sang on choirs and did various things,” Bundy said. “Also, we wanted to move into the next generation and that was the whole point of having young adults on the committee.
“I couldn’t be more proud of being a part of Christ Community just because what it would stand for,” he said. “We’re talking about 40 years and that’s quite a while.”
Bundy joined CCBC in 2008 and shared his excitement about helping to shape the church’s future.
“These things that we’re going to be doing, the goal is to not only build up the church but more importantly build up the word of God and do the great things in the community,” Bundy said.
“Most importantly, we’re going to give you the word of God and it’s not a show. It’s a true worship of God. It’s not about one man. It’s not about come see Rev. White work a miracle. It’s more about come see how members of the body of Christ come together and learn.”
Christ Community Baptist Church, Inc.
1224-30 North 41st Street
Philadelphia, Pa. 19104
Fax: (215) 215-877-4080
Service: 10:45 a.m.
Rev. Dr. Arthur White
The word “thankful” goes deeper than its name for Thankful Baptist Church, a church that appreciates its community and focuses on giving back. Founded in 1923, Thankful Baptist has proven that its members are dedicated to both its sanctuary and the community.
The Rev. Ivan B. Hewitt, the pastor at Thankful, has been serving the church for the past 25 years. With just four pastors preceding him in an almost 90-year history, Thankful prides itself on the longevity of both the leadership and the members.
“The fact that I’m the fifth pastor in 90 years is unique,” said Hewitt. “I am the second in longevity; Rev. Harrison J. Trap the pastor preceding me, was here for 38 years.”
Thankful Baptist Church, at 1608 W. Allegheny Ave., transmits enthusiasm both inside the sanctuary and out. In an effort to reach out and aid the community, the church owns various properties in the neighborhood and is looking to buy three more houses, Hewitt said.
“The intent is to own the whole block,” he said. “We are still trying. We are a mission church. We feel a sense of movement, but we are not moving as fast as we ought to be, we are not moving as far as we want to — but there is a sense of movement.”
In close proximity to the church is the Thankful Learning Center, a nonprofit organization that provides day care, after-school and parenting programs. As Hewitt explained, years ago the church lent use of a building to the organizers, with free use of utilities and electricity, before it returned to the neighborhood, bought a space and named it the Thankful Learning Center. The church maintains a good relationship with the center.
“Some of their workers are members of the church,” Hewitt said.
Emma L. Parish, 91, has been a member of Thankful for 65 years. Parish has experienced various changes within the church, but through many years still feels it holds the important values it has intended to.
“This church means so much to me — I’ll tell you, when I first came here from Georgia my husband and I both joined the church when it was on 21st Street,” Parish said. “I’ve seen them come and go, but everything is still all right. Ain’t nobody going to run me away now.”
The churchgoers at Thankful Baptist are engaged in its sermons and missions. On Sunday, July 15, Hewitt reached his church by preaching the message to always “have church in you.” He explained the importance of worship and allowing it to constantly be present.
“If nobody but me … I’m going to have church by myself, just me and the Lord,” he told the congregation.
This message surely transmits their devotion to the community. Every Wednesday, Thankful provides meals to people in the neighborhood. Additionally, the congregation hosts what they call “Community Day” when they give away clothing and food to those in the area.
“That’s not us being generous; we feel we owe it to the community,” Hewitt said. “We have a parking lot across the street, but the community can use it anytime. We feel that we are here because of the community — we try to make this a beacon in the area — they make us better.”
The church also donates electric fans to community members who need them. Should they also need assistance in paying their electric bills, Thankful offers assistance in paying those bills for a period of time.
“Our job is to bless those in the community and hopefully God will bless us,” Hewitt said.
Thankful Baptist has had a few prominent figures visit throughout the years, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Its widespread outreach also includes mission work in Cuba and Haiti, developed under the leadership of Hewitt’s predecessor, the Rev. Harrison J. Trap.
Thankful also has a social action approach, with a life membership to the NAACP and a commitment to support schools such as Delaware State, Temple University, Cheyney University and Virginia Union.
“We support schools where our members go to,” Hewitt said.
The Rev. Gerald Love is a long-time member of Thankful and the church has played an important role in his life.
“This church means everything to me. I was raised here in this church; I’ve been a part of this church since the ’60s,” he said. “I came to the church with my mother and I’ve attended Sunday school, Bible school, [and] camp, and I worked under Rev. Trap. He was a wonderful man. I traveled with him all over the United States. He did a lot of work in missions all over in Africa and the Caribbean. I’ve been a part of this church all my life, it’s just a joy. I love the fellowship, I love the people.”
The Rev. Barbara Day reflects on her 14-year journey at Thankful and feels ever more grateful for Hewitt, the church and the warm presence of its members. She previously belonged to another church until an incident occurred where she recalled knowing it was a good time for her to find a new church home.
“I am so grateful I belong to the Thankful Baptist Church. I’ve been here for 14 years, and this was the best decision I could make,” Day said. “I think Pastor Hewitt is the most humble person. All I need to do is see him … when I see him I get joy in my heart — I really do. He is so genuine.”
Throughout Thankful’s long history, the church has experienced various changes in its different communities. Hewitt reflected on a major increase in thievery in the late ’80s.
“Now it seems the closer you come to the church, the better the neighborhood is,” he said.
As a church that is focused on its community and social change, Thankful Baptist will continue to make its mark in the neighborhood.
“We are an oasis, and we open our doors to anyone.”
From its beginning in 1966 as a tiny storefront mission with a congregation of 16 Sunday school youths, Mount Airy Church of God in Christ has grown to become one of the most respected spiritual beacons in Philadelphia. Its congregation numbers in the thousands. Bishop Ernest C. Morris Sr., is the founder, jurisdictional prelate and God’s vessel responsible for building this well-regarded ministry.
“Bishop Morris and I met in the ’80s. He invited me to come preach at his Founder’s Day,” said the Rev. J. Louis Felton, senior pastor of Mount Airy COGIC, and close friend of Morris. From there, Felton was invited by Morris to preach during the Men’s Day celebration, and he obviously made an impression, “For over 30 years, I was the Men’s Day speaker, the fourth weekend in September.” Indeed, an indelible impression was made on Morris. God had revealed his successor.
To ensure the smooth succession of the ministry, in 2010 Morris made the bold move of appointing Felton to be senior pastor of the church, a move that has grown the ministry’s membership and deepened its discipleship of congregants. Felton is a brilliant preacher and Biblical scholar, a successor who is taking Mount Airy COGIC to the next level in the ministry stratosphere.
“We need to continue to do ministry in the way that the Lord Jesus viewed it,” said Felton. Not erroneously focusing on the expanse of physical church edifices and membership numbers, but, “Jesus built souls, built character, built relationships, and he did this without walls, buildings and budgets. Jesus did it with his relationship with people. In order for us to continue to impact people in that way, sometimes we’re going to have to get outside of the walls and actually engage the people.”
Evangelist Joyce Brooks, 55, is president of the church’s Fulfillment Ministry (singles), “I’ve been a part of this ministry for about five years,” but she’s been a member of the church for approximately 21 years. For Brooks, one of the biggest challenges facing singles is, “building their relationship up with the Lord.” Commenting on Felton’s ministry leadership, Brooks said, “He’s an excellent preacher-leader. He named servant leaders, to place the importance and significance on serving the needs of others. He has brought us on common ground … since he’s been here, he’s teaching us more on how to be servant leaders.” As a result, Brooks says, she has matured spiritually under Felton’s leadership.
“I came to Mount Airy from Georgia, where I’m originally from. I came from a church of 25 members, and coming to Mount Airy, a church with 5,000 members, was a different experience for me,” said William D. Hatcher. Hatcher, 34, a member since 2009, is the Youth Department servant leader, “As a youth leader for the Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, basically, it is our goal and our aspiration to inspire and encourage the young people … to keep their faith with God.” Accounting for the youth at the church and those in the community Hatcher serves, he estimates that approximately 1,500 are served via the Youth Department. “We offer several venues for them to express their talents and gifts.” These include choirs, sporting activities and teams, youth orchestra, webcasting, dance programs, mime programs, scholarships and other ministry endeavors.
Dorothy Lane, 71, is the church secretary and administrative assistant to Bishop Morris and Pastor Felton. She’s been affiliated with the ministry for six years. Lane believes that the church’s outreach to the nursing home community has been very impactful, and she explains, “Because the seniors need the company; the visitations help them. We serve most of the nursing homes in the Philadelphia area.” She estimates that the senior population of congregants at Mount Airy COGIC represents about a third of the entire church membership.
Seniors can enjoy a variety of ministry services. “We have our senior daily activities program on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are provided hot meals during the winter; they are served a breakfast, lunch and snack.” The seniors go on trips to plays, bowling, shopping; they are kept very active.
Lane is personally connected with Morris, “The bishop (Morris) and I are double cousins. Our fathers were brothers, and our mothers were sisters.” Though they did not grow up together, Lane says their spiritual relationship has brought them and their relatives closer.
Bishop Ernest C. Morris Sr., is a jovial and very astute man. His words edify you, his laughter excites you, and his preaching and leadership transform you. Morris, 79, is a plucky preacher with a compassionate heart for serving people. For over three decades, he has pushed his ministry focus into the community, beyond the comfortable confines of the church walls.
“My ministry beginning involved going from door to door witnessing for Jesus, I was always into reaching people outside of the church,” and throughout his ministry career, Morris has maintained a strong and consistent commitment to community outreach and evangelism.
Mount Airy COGIC’s ministries and outreach programs include Fulfillment Ministry; Marriage Enrichment Ministry; New Directions (single parents); Foster Parents Ministry; Sports Department; Youth Hospitality Ministry; Young Men of Valor; Young Women of Excellence; College Ministry; King's Children; Mt. Airy Youth Ambassadors and Praise Dance Ministry.
“I don’t care how large the church becomes, I’ll still be involved with outreach ministry. I always wanted to have a ministry that was more than just worship within the sanctuary. I believe that much of our church gathering, is to worship, to be taught, to be energized to go out into the community, to serve the people.”
Naming a successor while he’s still vibrant and healthy was a risky move for Morris, but he revels in being a risk-taker. After all, he jumped out of airplanes as a paratrooper serving in the United States Army.
“I know with his kind of preaching, he could take this church to another level; he’s doing a fine job,” said Morris This bold appointment of Felton as his successor ensures that Mount Airy COGIC won’t fracture and divide when he’s no longer around. His legacy is sealed.
Morris says he is eager to devote greater attention now to shepherding the pastors of the 30 churches he oversees as bishop and jurisdictional prelate, while also spending more quality time with his wife, Winifred W. Morris.
Mount Carmel Baptist is a unique church with a long history. Organized in 1882, Mount Carmel has been a positive and impactful presence in the West Philadelphia community for 119 years. Recently, the congregation celebrated the Rev. Dr. Albert F. Campbell’s 46th anniversary as senior pastor, a joyous milestone indeed.
“I’m very glad to be a part of this anniversary (celebration),” said Robert Taylor, a proud 30-plus-year member of Mount Carmel. Of Campbell, Taylor, a native Jamaican, shared this heartfelt sentiment, “A very good man, and I hope that (he) continues in God’s vision. … God bless you, God loves you, and so do I.”
Anthonia Benson, the wife of the Rev. Kyle Benson, associate minister at Mount Carmel, was elated about the celebration of Campbell. She fellowships at another church, but offered a very personal and warm kudos for him: “We just want to say, congratulations (to Pastor Campbell), it’s been a wonderful 46 years … we love (him) dearly. May God strengthen (him) and Mrs. Campbell and their entire family.” Campbell married the Bensons on Dec. 19, 2010, and their 2-year-old daughter Cassandra was blessed by him.
“Well, he has been the only pastor since I’ve been here. He’s my dad, he’s my big brother,” shared Robert L. Boston, 59, a member of Mount Carmel for 32 years. Boston operates a limo service, and as a gift to honor his pastor’s anniversary, Boston chauffeured the Rev. and Mrs. Campbell around for the day.
Campbell’s impact on Boston has been profound. He works on security at the church, he’s an usher and serves as a trustee, He said the pastor “knows that the Lord has called me to serve, and he allows me to serve in my space.” Boston was recently recognized as trustee emeritus, the youngest in Mount Carmel’s history. He has faithfully served as a trustee for 24 years. Boston relishes the fact that Mount Carmel is a very community-focused church, “We are a community-based church. We’re here for the community … we have … programs for the community.” Along with its strong community programs, Mount Carmel’s church mission is to “Teach, Preach, and Interpret the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“I’ve been a member of Mount Carmel for 65 years,” said Barbara Benson, a stately and genial woman, and the mother-in-law of Anthonia Benson She had very kind words to share about Campbell, “He is a very gracious man, I like how he relates to his parishioners … he is a man of God, and I have learned to love him so much in all these years.” She admires Campbell’s love for children, “He just loves young people, and his interaction with them is really beautiful to see.” Barbara Benson has a servant-leader’s heart, and has a history of serving in a variety of roles with the church; she’s been on the scholarship committee, she sings in the choir, she sometimes teaches Sunday school, “And whatever I’m called on to do, if the pastor asks me, I try to do it.”
Elizabeth Parker, a member since 1950, is the Sunday administrator for Mount Carmel. She offered the following comments about Campbell’s pastoral anniversary celebration: “It’s awesome. We are so blessed to have a pastor like Pastor Campbell … he’s an all-around (good) person.” Reflecting on Campbell’s greatest attributes, Parker, originally from North Carolina, said, “I think the great impact he’s made is his ability to communicate with all ages, from two-years-old, teenagers, seniors, he can relate to all of them.” She laughs when she quips, “I’ve come through all those stages with him.”
Jabrell Thomas, 21, a member for 19 years, said, “It’s good to see that Pastor Campbell being consistent, because so many other churches are going through pastor-to-pastor. It’s good that we can have one pastor to rely on, we can grow with him. He has a lot of personal relationships with his members … he definitely reaches out to people of all ages.” Jabrell’s ministry activism has included the youth basketball team, youth ministry, and the young people’s ushers. He is a senior at Lock Haven University.
“It is amazing to me, I had no idea that my tenure here would last this long,” said the Rev. Albert Franklin Campbell. An erudite and very eloquent man, Campbell, 79, possesses the friendly and endearing charisma of a favorite uncle, a jolly grandfather or loving father figure.
A native of Kansas, Campbell grew up in Colorado, where he met and married his wife Ruth. The Campbells will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on July 6.
Mount Carmel is Campbell’s second pastorate. “My first pastorate was of the Beulah Baptist Church in Central Harlem, on 130th Street between Lenox and Seventh avenues. He was pastor at Beulah for five and a half years before being called to Mount Carmel in 1966.
Reflecting on his 46-year tenure at Mount Carmel, Campbell remarked, “Well, I think I have set some standards of love for people, and genuine concern for people, and also a few standards in terms of academic achievement.” He is a strong advocate of pastors attending college and seminary, “(Seminary is) where they can get the training I feel, is needed, especially now, in this day and age.”
Commenting on the mix of youths and seniors within his congregation, Campbell said, “I have made it a point of trying to have an inter-generational ministry, and that requires me to relate to seniors as well as the youngsters, and I’ve consciously tried to do that. It seems to have worked for me.” Of mentoring other pastors, he said, “I have had the privilege of licensing and ordaining a number of preachers here at Mount Carmel, and I tell them the same thing … they cannot pastor people without loving people.”
“He’s a caring preacher … for a preacher to stay here this long really means a lot, he’s here for the people,” said Edward Robinson, an usher and member since 1989. Robinson considers Campbell a “preacher’s preacher” He admires how Campbell has mentored so many preachers during his 46-year tenure. Robinson’s mother was responsible for introducing him to the Mount Carmel. “I really love it here,” he concluded.
Bishop Keith Reed Sr., senior pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, was the guest preacher for Campbell’s pastoral anniversary service on May 27. After the sermon, Reed offered endearing and Biblical words of encouragement to Campbell, his friend and fellow clergyman, “To Pastor Campbell, I pray that God continues to bless you. Be encouraged, and don’t grow weary in well-doing, you know you’ll reap if you faint not.”
The Rev. Robert J. McFadden is the senior pastor of Resurrection Baptist Church in West Philadelphia. If you’re interested in joining a church that is very committed to community outreach and uplift and pastoral care, then Resurrection may be your new church home.
McFadden has been the shepherd of Resurrection for three years. Before taking the reins of Resurrection, he was church administrator at First Nazarene Baptist Church for almost 17 years. He was instrumental in helping First Nazarene finish a 52,000-square-foot building project.
McFadden is a well educated man who radiates brilliance. He earned his undergraduate degree in finance with a degree in accounting from Rowan University, an MBA in corporate finance from Webster University, and he attends Reform Episcopal Seminary.”
In his three years at Resurrection, McFadden has made youth and seniors his priority. “What’s been key for us is our ability to establish very critical relationships within the community, in terms of working with the children primarily, as well as the senior population,” he said.
Under McFadden’s leadership, Resurrection rehabbed one of its properties to serve as an after-school program.
“I think that has kind of engaged us with the community in a way that we were able to really see some movement concerning the development of our children in our community,” he said.
“We currently provide services to the seniors where they come out on Wednesdays, and are able to participate, not only in a meal, but activities for fellowship. During that time, we provide information on health care, computer technology and other services and fellowship opportunities."
McFadden’s vision for Resurrection is to provide a holistic approach to uplifting and equipping people in the congregation and in the community.
"The question is, after a person gives their life to Christ, how do you integrate them into the community?," he said. "We must move outside the four walls where we worship, and take that worship into the community to provide services that will really help people, kind of progress, to rise to a level where they can literally be self sufficient and develop skills, and really increase their quality of life."
Resurrection offers a weekly meal program on Thursdays, “People can come out and get a good meal and be respected,” McFadden said. And the church also maintains a clothing ministry that gives-away gently used clothes to residents and congregation members in need.
Amber Gould, 19, attends Community College of Philadelphia, majoring in psychology.
“I was on the youth choir and the youth usher board,” Gould said. Now, her focus and time have been dominated by the demands of school, but she enjoys her Sunday worship at Resurrection. She’s been a member there since the age of 4.
“For me, I feel young people should be affiliated with a church, because that’s the way it should go,” she said. “That’s how I was raised. I feel like I can focus more on doing the right things, on the right path.”
Deacon William House, 66, chairman of the Deacons’ ministry, has been a member of Resurrection for approximately 17 years and chairman of the Deacons for two years. House is staunch about his support of the pastor and ministries of Resurrection.
“Becoming more involved in helping Pastor McFadden lead the congregation, that’s our primary obligation as deacons," he said. "Under his leadership, we have come a long way in fulfilling that task, and that’s been rewarding for me.”
House promotes evangelism, saying, “It’s also our obligation to spread God’s Word. I believe that the evangelism ministry has an impact on the community, because we are compelled not just to spread the Word, but to urge new converts to affiliate with the church."
Jacqueline Henry is executive administrator at Resurrection and she has many other duties and responsibilities. A member of Resurrection since 1965, her other ministry roles include trustee, choir ministry leader, church event planner, missionary minstry and youth ministry volunteer. Recently retired, she spends most of her time at the church explaining, “I love my church and I love my pastor.”
Over the years, Resurrection has experienced many transitions of pastors
“I've seen growth at each level,” Henry said. “Rather then stepping back, I see the congregation moving forward; even more so in the last three years with Pastor McFadden. He’s fair. There’s no cliques. He treats everybody the same. He’s a teaching pastor.”
Henry loves the fact that McFadden is community-oriented.
"He’s involved in helping the downtrodden," she said. "I like that.”
The Rev. Alfonza Miller has been a member of Resurrection for at least 20 years. He serves as the youth minister.
“I have seen children come give their life to Christ, graduate from high school, their behavior’s changed, attitude’s changed, families are coming together,” he said.
Miller believes youth ministries have significant roles in society.
“There are a lot of homes that aren’t structured as stable homes,” he said. “Single parents with a lot of busy schedules, sometimes things happen and people aren’t able to spend time with their children.”
As a result, Miller has observed that children feel neglected.
For the last four years, Bertha Lewis has served as the senior saints ministry leader. She’s been a member of Resurrection since 1957. According to Lewis, one of the biggest challenges facing seniors is, “getting around. A lot of them don’t drive,” she said.
Lewis said Resurrection’s van service is a big help in transporting seniors and those who do drive assist in transporting seniors who don’t.
Lewis tries to keep the seniors active and engaged.
“We eat a lot," she said. "We have crocheting, lunch, and we plan to go on day trips to keep us busy.
Lewis said she admires McFadden’s passion for the seniors and youth.
“He’s into the seniors and the young folks, more than anything else," she said. "And that’s what we need, we need someone that’s going to help us build our young people up to where they need to be."
Founded in 1966, Christian Stronghold Baptist Church has blossomed into a major spiritual center for Christian education, Christian counseling, Christian evangelism, family solidarity and solid Biblical preaching. Its founder and senior pastor, the Rev. Willie Richardson, has been called one of America’s top ministry educators and Christian counselors. He is a preacher with incredible integrity, and he was recently celebrated nationally as a “living legend” by his clergy peers.
Tawanda Barnes, 46, and David E. Barnes have been married for 26 years. They have three daughters: Elyse, 25, Jennifer, 22, and Alivia, 10. Marriage is sacred to Tawanda Barnes because both she and her husband grew up without their fathers.
“My husband and I both come from broken homes; neither one of us was raised by two parents,” she said. “We didn’t have our fathers’ impact. And so, through Pastor Richardson, he’s shown my husband how to be a leader, a father, and how to be a man of God and how to bring that into the family.”
She loves Richardson’s ministry because of his emphasis on family values and marriage.
“Without Jesus, we can’t do anything,” she said. “In a marriage it takes three, the husband, the wife and the Holy Spirit. Dr. Richardson has shown us all things are possible with Christ. He has been married for 50 years!”
David E. Barnes, 49, has been a member at Stronghold for approximately 17 years. “I am the director of the New Members Ministry.”
Reflecting on how he has spiritually grown as a husband and ministry leader at Christian Stronghold, he said, “The things that I’ve learned at Christian Stronghold pertain to how to treat my wife, such as honoring her, providing for her, encouraging her — these are some of the things that I have learned. And she’s been taught what to expect from me.”
“I’ve been a member since 1986,” said Rita Scarborough. The youth coordinator for special events,” she handles all the organization and coordination of youth events for the church. Scarborough, 46, was introduced to Christian Stronghold when she was invited by a friend to attend a drama ministry performance.
Of her and her husband Alphonso’s experience at Christian Stronghold, she said, “It’s an awesome ministry … It’s transformed our thinking on the Word of God, on how to apply the Scriptures in our own lives, and how to affect other people, as far as evangelism — salvation is for everyone.”
The Scarboroughs are the proud parents of two young girls, and the entire family fellowships at Christian Stronghold. They enjoy sharing the Word of God to impact the lives of others. The couple spent nine years in Egypt serving as missionaries.
Annette Hampton, Richardson’s sister, has been a member of Christian Stronghold for 46 years. She is the executive director of the Alpha Community Development Corp. “It’s our community outreach arm to the community,” she said.
Growing up having Richardson for a brother, Hampton said, “was a wonderful thing, he’s a very tender-hearted person.”
According to Hampton, “The church has always had an open door policy to serve the community.” In her role, she has oversight of the following outreach services:
- Family and Healthy Marriage
- Prison Re-entry
- Job Creation and Retention
- Community Economic Development
- Youth Services
Christian Stronghold has a strong youth ministry and youths in the community receive the same services that youth members of the church receive.
“I’m the chairperson of the Deacons Ministry at Christian Stronghold,” said Craig Browne, a retired Philadelphia and New Jersey educator. Browne has been a member of Christian Stronghold since 1977, and he has served as chair of the deacons for 20 years. For him, “Bringing others to the knowledge of Christ” is one of the greatest impacts he feels the church has had on families and the community.
Christian Stronghold is renowned for its focus on families. “Seeing families grow … Our pastor is very big on spiritually impacting families; as we impact families, we impact blocks, from there, certain sections of the city,” said Browne.
The Cell Church at Christian Stronghold has had “tremendous impact, for not only our church, but outside,” he said.
Cell Church is a concept that breaks a large congregation into many small groups for fellowship, Bible lessons, etc. It’s a great way for an extra-large congregation to maintain personal close connection with its congregants.
Also, according to Browne, the church has a successful Town Watch group, and hosts frequent community meetings with city officials and legislators for area residents.
Pastor Richardson is an accomplished author. He’s abounding with wisdom and is quite a visionary. A conversation with him is rich with valuable information and wise counsel. He is a very faith-driven man. He has an incredible testimony about overcoming prostate cancer and offers very insightful medical options for men afflicted with the disease.
Chatting about his ministry’s success, Richardson always deflects credit to God. He has a passion for loving the people in his community.
“We go to people, rather than waiting for people to come to church,” he said. “We’ve always been active in the neighborhood and the community, in reaching out to bring opportunities to people to people that don’t even belong to our church.”
In 2010, Richardson received the “Living Legend Award” during the E.K. Bailey International Expository Preaching Conference, in Dallas, Texas, one of the most popular national conferences for Baptist preachers in the country.
He is not conventional in thought.
“We’ve always done things outside the box,” he said, “and we’re still doing things outside the box.”
He’s been invited to the White House by several presidents to take part in various initiatives and events.
“And now I’m encouraging young folks in our church … to do things that nobody else is doing. (Christian Stronghold) has become a pacesetter for other churches, locally, and nationally,” he said. “I always believe that the Bible has some kind of principle to teach on every kind of problem.”
The small town of Media, Delaware County, population of 5,000+, boasts a few unique features: 40 percent of its residents (25 and older) are college educated, it is home-base for an abundance of law firms, and over 67 percent of the population is religiously affiliated.
Christ Christian Community Church is a proud member of Media’s long history of churches; its congregation is celebrating 50 years of spiritual service in the community and a new senior pastor, the Rev. Stacy King-Chaney.
Don’t let King-Chaney’s small frame fool you, she is a firebrand preacher who loves Jesus and she is intensely passionate about empowering youth to be leaders in the church.
“I was licensed to preach in 1991, by Rev. Dr. Albert F. Campbell (senior pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, in Philadelphia).”
She grew up under Campbell’s mentorship, became a member of Mount Carmel at age 8, and she decided at age 16 that faith in Jesus would be her most important life decision; she was installed as the new senior pastor at Christ Christian Community Church in December 2010.
Some female pastors find it challenging serving in a traditionally male-dominated role. As an African American female, growing up in a racially charged community, King-Chaney has been tried and tested to handle life challenges.
She remarked about her childhood years, “Growing up in Aston, Pa., (my family and I) had some intense racial encounters, it wasn’t kind.”
She says her gender is not an issue in her ministry. In fact, King-Chaney holds to the wise counsel that her mentor, Campbell, gave her.
“The challenge (of gender) is only as great as you allow it to be,” she said. “I try not to get distracted, I don’t allow anyone to prevent me from (serving in) ministry.”
King-Chaney is the second pastor to shepherd Christ Christian Community Church, she succeeded the founder, Rev. R. Robert Barber, who died in January 2008. Barber served just shy of 50 years.
“My dad was the founder and senior pastor of the church for 49 years,” said Brenda Barber.
Brenda, 57, remains an active member and Trustee, and she is a staunch supporter of King-Chaney, Brenda offered this compliment, “(King-Chaney) is an amazing lady, she’s all about the community.”
Christ Christian Community Church is a small congregation that’s focused on God. King-Chaney’s focus on home missions and youth is evident. The youth lead in many aspect of the worship service: singing, praise dancing, prayer, reading scripture, ushering, etc.
King-Chaney has two other great supporters, her mother and father.
“If you’re looking for a spirit led church service, Christ Christian Community Church is a place to be,” remarked Allen King Sr., 78, about his daughter’s church. He holds dual membership and leadership roles at Mount Carmel Baptist Church and Christ Christian Community Church — he serves as a deacon at both congregations. He attends an early morning service at Mount Caramel and a later morning service at his daughter’s church to support her.
“Growing up, she was very much into the church. One day, I didn’t take her to church, and she cried and had a fit,” said Florastine Marie King, the proud mother.
King laughed as she recalled a time when her daughter approached her with some shocking news.
“At age 16, (my daughter) told me that the I wasn’t the most important person in her life anymore,” she said.
King thought that her daughter had gone crazy in love with some teen boy, “I was relieved when (my daughter) told me that Jesus was the number one love in her life.” King made a humorous comment that in the church, her daughter’s in charge, but outside the church, “She’s my daughter, and I’m the mother!”
King serves as a trustee at her daughter’s church, and is the proud grandmother of her daughter’s three girls: Mya, Jasmine and Imani.
“What I love most about my mom is that she loves working with youth,” shared Imani, 17, an 11th-grade honor student, attending Delaware County Christian School. Imani continued, “(Christ Christian Community Church) is a very welcoming place, and you feel very connected. At Christ Christian Community Church, you don’t have to worry about feeling judged.”
The casual dress code seems to impress Imani and her peers. After high school graduation, Imani aspires to attend Harvard University, Georgetown University or Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Cecelia “Cece” Thompson, 13, an 8th-grade honor student at Mastery Charter School, in Philadelphia, attends Christ Christian Community Church regularly.
According to Cece, “We (young leaders) are the main part of the church, we have an opportunity to lead.” Cece aspires to become a math teacher.
“We’re a small church, but we think big … I enjoy myself,” explained Lisa Wittington. She serves as youth director, Sunday school instructor and church secretary. Wittington is an accounting student at Widener University.
She is very excited about working with the youth. In 2012, the youth will spend time learning about Native Americans, and in 2013, the youth will participate in a missions trip to an Indian reservation in North Carolina to render ministry services to those less fortunate.
“Having my wife as a senior pastor? It’s different,” said Vaughn Kindle Chaney. “Being the ‘first gentleman’ doesn’t happen often. It’s challenging, it’s a new role, and it’s kind of cool.”
The St. Paul Chapel Baptist Church rang in the New Year with a festive celebration that set the tone to all the blessings that 2012 will bring for the congregation.
The Rev. Jermaine T. Heath Sr. has been the charismatic senior pastor of St. Paul for the past seven years and his enthusiasm for leading his church is still in full bloom. He brimmed with excitement over where God will lead the church in the coming months.
“Our theme for the year is basically great expectations, the journey begins,” he said. “We’re not only expecting something great from God but God is expecting great things from our lives. “
That declaration is also extended to their community as St. Paul is a church that ministers through the word, worship and the liberating and healing power of the gospel.
“We try to help the members understand that number one, the church is you. You are the individual. We are a group of people that make up St. Paul Baptist Church and not the building,” Heath said.
“So when people understand that, that the church is an organism, that it’s a live group of people that go out to spread the message of the gospel, it helps to change the mindset of the people not just looking at a building so much but understanding that’s who they are. We are the church.”
Heath cited his preaching style as a way that he has been able to convey that understanding.
“I believe in my preaching style that not only should your soul be stirred up but your mind should be transformed,” he said.
“I’m trying to educate and give people an understanding of why they should get excited abut what they hear, why they should be excited about Christ,” Heath added. “So, it is illustrative but very centered in the word.”
Others lauded his leadership.
“The sermons that he gives are sermons that speak on not only the word of God and how we should live but also he speaks and tries to reach the heart of people with the Bible and with the message of bringing it into reality.” said the Rev. John A. Crost Sr. “And also, standing on the word. So, others not only accept Christ but they become disciples.”
Crost is the associate pastor at St. Paul and Heath’s uncle. He marveled at his nephew’s growth as a pastor.
“He started it with me at the Church of Redeemer as a deacon and the Lord called him to the industry and he began to grow in the ministry as an associate minister,” he said. “I’ve seen him grow spiritually and biblically in the word. His messages are very uplifting and edifying.”
Crost invited the community to partake in the worship experience.
“The church is a church that welcomes people with open arms,” he said. “You will be enriched and the Bible will be made alive in your heart when you hear the sermons there.”
Estelle Smith, a deaconess, has been a member of St. Paul since 1981. She explained what kept her coming back year after year. She said it was a warm church and everyone knew the other.
“I live in Delaware now, but I come 45 minutes to church for the fact that the church itself meets all my needs, spiritually, socially,” she said. “We don’t have too many in my age group that are still around but I enjoy the youth and they enjoy me and I just like to be a part of stuff, the ongoing things that I take part of.”
Smith also had words of praise for Heath. She was incredibly touched when he visited her in the hospital following her heart attack.
“He’s young, but he also meets the needs of the youth as well as the elderly and I find him to be a dynamic speaker,” Smith said. “He can speak on many subjects and you won’t fall asleep. He’s a preacher that will not let you fall asleep. Some ministers are just there to speak to you.”
Heath said his personal growth has enabled him to gain the trust, admiration and confidence of his fellowship.
“During the seven years, we have gone through a transformation with our church,” he said. “The church, when I first got there, was a much older congregation with about maybe 25 people. Now, we are a well diverse group of people with young adults, children, youth and seniors and we approximately around 170 members. So, it’s been a great change at St. Paul.
“For me as a pastor, I have not only grown not only in the word but also just understanding people and reaching out to people and understanding people,” Heath said.
St. Paul Chapel Baptist Church
1217 S. 21st Street
Philadelphia, Pa. 19146
Service: 11 a.m.
Church: (215) 467-4158
Rev. Jermaine T. Heath Sr.
Consolation “Holy Ghost” Baptist Church, founded by Bishop Alden A. Gaines 47 years ago, was recently acknowledged in a joint celebration of Gaines’ 70th birthday.
Gaines started the church in his living room in 1973 with his faithful wife, the Rev. Marie Gaines, at his side. Their children and other loved ones gathered to create a Holy Ghost presence in the lives of their community and beyond.
“It was God, my lord and savior Jesus Christ, but I was a product of the community and the community wasn’t doing very well and I wanted to make a change,” Gaines said.
“I started it in my home, and I felt simply to just let the Lord speak and it branched out from there.”
He explained the vision which has contributed to the church’s longevity.
“I wanted it to affect the community for my savior and be of some benefit to the community, to the people that I loved and cared about,” he said.
“After I accepted Christ as my savior, my ultimate goal was to win people over to the Lord.”
Gaines makes it a point to not only preach about love, but to demonstrate it in all that his listeners do. They want their actions to match their words. He and his wife, who have been married for 52 years, start with themselves. Gaines cited his wife’s unwavering support for the church’s longevity in South Philadelphia, but his endurance as well.
Mrs. Gaines, who serves as co-pastor in the church, was more than happy to be the woman behind a great man and a great church.
“We’ve been working together for so many years, but in earlier years, it was quite different for the pastors’ wives. We mostly served as the first ladies,” she said.
She spoke of how the women’s ministry and other issues related to women have allowed them to play a greater role over the years.
“Women are very, very vital to the African-American church. They are the supporters,” she said.
“Those are the ones that will support the ministry. They volunteer to do all types of services to promote their bishops or their pastors, and yet we as women, stay behind the men. We don’t come above them. We work alongside of them.”
She shared what she thought others had taken from the ministry over the years.
“They’ve learned to trust God because they’ve seen us go through so many different areas of life, from happy days to sad days, and they’ve seen us stand for Jesus. They’ve seen us not back down. They’ve seen us trust God through very situation,” she said.
“God will bring you through anything if you trust him. You may not see everything, but if you believe God’s word and you trust him and believe him, you will eventually see it come to pass.”
Through the years, Bishop Gaines has sought to make his covenant a hospital for those who needed spiritual aid. He did not want the church to stand as just another building on the block. One of the mainstays of Consolation has been the desire that those who enter the sanctuary feel like the home it originated from.
“I’ve been part of the ministry for 31 years and they’re carrying out God’s mission to evangelize and to love on God’s people,” said Berdetta Suggs, administrative assistant.
“They’re known everywhere they go. (They are) known for teaching, known to lead God’s people.”
Suggs said the Gaineses were the embodiment of what the church should be about.
“For a ministry to last 47 years, I think that speaks volumes for itself,” she said.
“They’re spiritual parents to many, including myself.”
Suggs foresees the same type of exemplary leadership in the New Year.
“Every new year creates a new level of things that have to be done, and I see them conquering what was left to do or had to be done in 2011, and God has new orders coming into 2012. I see them leading the people,” she said.
“I think people will be seeking the church where they don’t have hope anywhere else.”
Bishop Gaines said he would continue to provide the spiritual assistance that has become expected of him and his ministry.
“I’m devoted and committed to my Lord,” he said.
“I desire to be more effective in people’s lives and more growth.”
Consolation “Holy Ghost” Baptist Church
2500 Wharton St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Service: 11 a.m.
Bishop Alden A. Gaines
Last Sunday, little Kaela Pointer, a 5-month-old girl, was baptized and celebrated by her church family, Saint Cyprian Roman Catholic Church, the largest African-American Catholic parish in Philadelphia.
The Gospel of Matthew 28:19 documents the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
Saint Cyprian is a great example of a church that fully embraces teaching the Word of God, baptizing and making disciples, and taking the Gospel of Christ abroad; Saint Cyprian is probably one of the most culturally versed/well traveled congregations throughout the world, having visited Egypt, Jerusalem, Italy, Greece, Spain, China and so many other international locations.
Rev. Msgr. Federico A. Britto is the endearing and beloved founding pastor of Saint Cyprian. Eleven years ago, he arrived to lead the transition of consolidating two Philadelphia parishes: Transfiguration of Our Lord and Saint Carthage — today, known as the Saint Cyprian Roman Catholic Church, located on Cobbs Creek Parkway.
Britto has had several pastoral assignments during his 29 years as a priest, but Britto’s first pastoral assignment was shepherding the parish of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, in Philadelphia.
Commenting on the consolidation of the two churches, Britto shared that, “The people, at the time, came together and decided that a new vision was needed for this area, as far as their parishes were concerned.”
Saint Cyprian boasts a long list of ministries and organizations for members of the congregation to serve, including: Hospitality Committee, Helping Hands for the Hungry, Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver, Marriage Preparation, Share the Faith (Door to Door Ministry), Men of Saint Cyprian and F.R.O.G.S. (Fully Relying On God). “If someone is looking for (a ministry to serve in), they can find it here,” said Britto.
Britto is a well-educated man, but is not lofty, he’s quite humble and extremely approachable. Britto earned his B.A. in Philosophy, an M.A. in Theology, and an M.S. in Strategic Leadership, from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, in Wynnewood, Pa. and he serves on the Boards of Neumann University, Mercy Catholic Medical Center and St. Ignatius Nursing Home.
“He has such a great sense of humor, (he’s) so friendly and he treats everybody the same,” said Carolyn Rice, 61, a member for eleven years, commenting about Britto and his personality. Rice is an entrenched member because the Saint Cyprian congregation is so “loving” and is very “family oriented.”
For John Odom, a member of 10 years, it’s real simple, he’s an entrenched member because, “I like how (members) come together to help others in need.” Odom, 61, serves as a driver, Pastoral Council member and in other ministry capacities.
James Spruill Jr., 45, has been a member of St. Carthage and Saint Cyprian for a combined 40 years.
What Sprull likes best is, “Saint Cyprian is a close knit community; we are all united in commonality of our faith.” A devoted husband to his wife, Kimberly, and a father of two young children, Spruill loves Saint Cyprian because of its family atmosphere.
“We know each other’s family, (and) we support and help each other,” he said.
Spruill serves on the finance committee, parish council and Men of Saint Cyprian ministries.
Every Sunday, Kia Gray, 36, and her family trek all the way from Collegeville, Pa., to fellowship and worship at Saint Cyprian.
“(We are) the largest Black Catholic congregation in Philadelphia and Monsignor Britto is very good for our church … he is constantly trying to work with our youth and seniors,” said Gray, who is the leader of the Young Adult ministry and she’s also a Lector at Saint Cyprian.
Gray is the mother of two girls, Kaela (the infant who was baptized on Sept. 25), and Kai, 14; her husband is Jerome Pointer. As the leader of the Young Adult Ministry, Kia involves the young adults in conducting community service initiatives and she exposes the young adults to guest speakers.
Geraldine “Geri” Fuller, 78, has been of member of Saint Carthage and Saint Cyprian for a combined 50 years.
“I am what is called a cradle Catholic,” she explained. “I was taught by Holy Family nuns,” during her childhood years in New Orleans, La.
Fuller is in charge of organizing the international trips that Saint Cyprian schedules for its congregation and the general public. Her ministry activism includes Legion of Mary, president of Women of Saint Cyprian and Extraordinary Ministry for Mercy Hospital.
Jean Smith, 72, a member for 10 years, made this comment about Britto, “He’s a very caring person, he has the best interest of people in mind.”
Smith enjoys helping organize the international trips that Saint Cyprian takes, the Gospel choir, the Women of Saint Cyprian and food pantry ministries.
Saint Cyprian is, “a very warm and welcoming church and we have a lot of activities (and ministries for people to participate in),” she said.
Smith is equally enthralled about her pastor, saying, “He’s very good with youth and seniors. I hope he never has to leave.”
Saint Cyprian Roman Catholic Church
525 S. Cobbs Creek Parkway
Philadelphia, Pa. 19143
Telephone: (215) 747-3250
Sunday Worship Services: 8 a.m. & 11 a.m.
Priest: Rev. Msgr. Federico A. Britto