The Rev. Aaron W. Campbell, founder and pastor of Antioch of Calvary, just released his memoirs, “Eyes That Seen Plenty.”
He previously released the tome under Time Warner/AOL books, but said that endeavor did not quite represent how God transformed his life for the better; this new book does and it is on Campbell’s own terms.
He rewrote the book within the last three years with the mindset that God’s delays are not God’s denials.
“It takes the reader from the inner center of North Jersey, the North Jersey area to the streets of New York down to the University of Pennsylvania where I went to college and right into the arms of the Lord. It’s very much of the first of its kind. There doesn’t appear to be much written about Generation X,” Campbell said.
“There doesn’t appear to be much about it and more than just telling my story and my story of redemption, it’s really like a Generation X story. So, in it you’re gonna have the origin of hip hop. You’re gonna have WWF wrestling. You’re gonna have when MTV first came out. You’re gonna have when crack first came out.”
Campbell was raised in a single parent household in an urban setting. However, he went to private schools all his life. He became a janitor to support his education at the University of Pennsylvania. He described this time in his life as a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde existence.
“I was looking for stability. I was looking for happiness. I was looking for happiness, trying to be the man on the streets. I was looking for happiness in the Ivy League and trying to be successful and basically had really climbed the ladder on both sides and what I thought would equal happy, it really just equaled emptiness,” he said.
“Then I came to hear about the Lord and truly heard how the Lord loved me and how I had value in God’s eyes. And when I understood that I had value in God’s eyes and that he had a plan for my life and he wanted to save me, I gave my life to the Lord.”
His wife, Natasha, saw his turnaround with her own eyes.
“At the same time the Lord was working on him, he was working with me and my heart. But it was an amazing transformation and one of the reasons I got saved. I saw how in a very short timeframe, his life was basically transformed,” she said.
“I knew that it couldn’t have been him on his own; his own energy and his own desire. It had to be something else that had changed him from within.”
Mrs. Campbell also addressed those who would be skeptical of her husband who went from indulging in women, drugs and crime to a reformed man of God.
“I think everyone has struggled with doubt and to the skeptic, I would just say that read with an open mind like any book you would pick off the shelf. This is one man’s story and how the Lord worked in his life,” she said.
“We know that God is real. We know that he can transform lives. We’ve seen it happen with my husband. We’ve seen it happen with scores of other people, but God is powerful.”
Rev. Johnny Bell, assistant pastor of Antioch, has known Campbell for over nine years.
“It’s one of the best books that I’ve read, and I don’t just say that,” he said.
“I think this book is definitely going to open eyes to a lot of people and it just shows that people who — men and women — who Jesus save are from every walk of life.”
Campbell has already shared his story with his congregation, which is a diverse delegation of ex-hustlers, ex-strippers, ex-cons, former atheists and University of Penn undergraduates, graduates and postgraduates.
“You name it. We’re all there together. We’re not ashamed of what the Lord has done for us,” Campbell said.
“Now that I’m Christian, yeah, I’m seeking to be perfect, but for someone to expect me to have been perfect out the womb and for my life before Christ to be perfect, that’s directly against the Bible. We need the Lord because we’re not perfect.”
Campbell invited unbelievers to come in and worship with them.
“Christ is risen, one, the Bible is true and God still raises people from death to life,” he said.
Earnest Daniel Sr., known to everyone as Ernie, became a Philadelphia police officer in 1966 and was later promoted to Detective in 1978.
After 23 years of service, Ernie retired from the Police Force. Not as ready to retire as he originally believed, he spent another 11½ years working for the State of Pennsylvania as an investigator for the Office of the Inspector General. In 2003, he retired from the state. Daniel died on December 9. He was 68.
Daniel was born on December 18, 1942 in Perry, Georgia. He was the first of three sons born to Cleo and Irvin Daniel. The family relocated to Philadelphia early in his life. He attended Hannah Elementary School, Shoemaker Middle School and West Philadelphia High School.
Upon graduation, Daniel was awarded a football scholarship to Delaware State University. Instead of heading to Delaware, he decided to enlist and serve the country in the United States Air Force as an Air Police Officer. After completing a tour of duty in Bermuda and spending some time on Reserve Duty, he received an Honorable Discharge.
Once back in Philadelphia, he began spending more time doing the things that made him happy. His favorite activities were spending time with close friends and fishing with his grandchildren.
His family said he had a way about him that was very laid back most times; but he was also funny. He was full of knowledge in many subjects and was always willing to help anyone in any way that he could. Daniel was enthusiastic about reading and watching documentaries about history. He explored every aspect of many kinds of aircrafts, even building a model every now and then. He dabbled with photography, developing photographs when his sons were young. Later he shifted to using a digital camera and computer to refine and print his photos. Whenever he could, Daniel especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren. He also had a passion for watching football games on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays.
Daniel leaves to mourn: mother, Cleo; children, Earnest Jr., Troy, Andre and Dionne; ex-wife Virginia; grandchildren, Edena, Earnest III, Eron, Elise, Troy Jr., Aaron, Aalysa, Ashley, Ari, Blair and Sonja; a special nephew, Christopher Lewis; sisters-in-law; a host of in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews; other relatives; friends and colleagues.
He was preceded in death by brothers, Leroy and Joseph. Services were held December 17 at Wood Funeral Home, Inc.
Mildred Bridges was known for her classic style and sharp fashion sense. She was designated “Millie the Model” by some close friends and was a lover of fashion.
Beautiful clothes, desirable clothes, elegant furniture and décor were staples of hers. She tiptoed in high-heeled shoes well into her 80s. Her friendly disposition drew all types of people to her.
Bridges died Dec. 6. She was 86.
Bridges was born on July 6, 1925 in Philadelphia to Blanche E. and Luther E. Weaver. She grew up in the Elmwood section of the city and attended George Wolf School and John Bartram High School.
She married George Bridges on Sept. 15, 1943. They had four children: George Jr., Denise, Debbie and Donna.
At an early age, she became a member of the Emmanuel AME Church in Elmwood. She later joined the Pinn Memorial Baptist Church under the Rev. Frank B. Mitchell. In 1985, she and her husband moved to Mt. Airy, where she became a member of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Germantown and joined the EverReady Ministry.
During World War II, Bridges worked at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, while her husband was serving in the Army Air Corps. After the war, she worked at John Wanamaker’s in Center City. She retired in 1988 to care for her ailing husband.
Bridges was a member of two social clubs, the Mr. and Mrs. Club and Club Avalon. She was also a volunteer for “Across Ages”, a mentoring program at the Center for Intergenerational Learning, sponsored by Temple University.
Her family said that her swanky character would be remembered, since she took so much pride in her home, her style of dress and her presentation through the years. Her home was a holiday destination for family and friends. She was a fixture in the lives of every generation of the family.
She is survived by: son, George Bridges Jr.; three daughters, Denise Ballinger, Debbie Howell and Donna Bridges-Smith; daughter-in-law, Gladys Bridges; two sons-in-law, Leroy Howell and Cornell Smith; three grandsons, George Bridges III, David Bridges and Brandon Smith; four granddaughters, Nicole Ballinger, Amber Ballinger, Isabel Robinson and Ashley Howell; two granddaughters-in-law, Sheronda Bridges and Alicia Bridges; three great-grandchildren, Kylayda Robinson, Shawn Robinson and Nyisa Phillips; four sisters-in-law, Mildred Weaver, Ruth Bridges, Edna Flood and Vivian Bridges; two brothers-in-law, Dr. Charles Bridges and Allen Flood; close cousin Estelle Corbin; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and a host of friends.
Bridges was preceded in death by her husband, George Bridges; three sisters, Emma Jackson, Edith Wiggins and Elva Knight; a brother, Luther Weaver Jr. and son-in-law, Raymond Ballinger Jr.
Services were held Dec. 16 at Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Germantown. Fletcher H. Townsend Funeral Home, Inc. handled the arrangements.
Deliverance Evangelistic Church recently celebrated its 50th year in ministry with a celebrating worthy of the occasion.
A series of events had already taken place before the culmination at the Marriott Convention Center. It was a well attended affair of a church with a congregation in the thousands.
Rev. Glen Spaulding spoke of being the senior pastor of the covenant since 2002 in a previous interview with The Philadelphia Tribune. He credited his successor and Deliverance’s founder, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Smith.
“[Smith] taught us to be grounded in the word of God and not just to know it from a head knowledge, but to apply the word of God on a daily basis and to make it applicable. So, that has been the first bedrock in this endeavor and the other has been prayer,” Spaulding said.
“I’m a firm believer in prayer and as pastors and leaders — I think we have to be. We have to want to seek the Lord’s face. We have to want to bring faith and unity in the body of Christ, and all of those things can’t be brought forth without the word of God and without prayer.”
Deliverance Evangelistic Church was organized in 1961 with 10 members who came together in a prayer meeting under the leadership of the late Rev. Benjamin Salters and Essie Salters. That simple gathering grew into a large body of Christ whose mission is to evangelize. Spaulding said that he and the church have remained true to their goal despite how large they have grown.
“I like to think of us as a big, warm country church. That has been my goal; to get away from the mega thinking into making people feel comfortable,” he said.
“One of my greatest compliments came from a visitor once when she came and she said, ‘You know I had my preconceptions about this church but after coming and sitting in the service, you’re a big church but it doesn’t feel like it. I come in and I’ve been able to feel at home just as if I were in a small church.’ And that has been my goal, and I think that comes with the love of God.”
During the 50 years of Deliverance’s ministry, the church has remained steadfast in providing for the least of those in the community. Its various programs involve the homeless, youth and seniors, health, education, prison ministries, foreign and domestic missions and food cupboards. There is also an ongoing community outreach to various target populations and employment through Hope Plaza at 22nd Street and Lehigh Avenue.
The anniversary celebration was a unifying occasion and one for celebration, but neither Spaulding nor the church were going to rest on their laurels.
“At times, I guess it seems as if it could be overwhelming but then if anyone ever goes into this thinking you can do it yourself, you’re in for a rude awakening. So, we just depend on the Lord to give us strength and guidance in all of it because first of all, ministering to people in all walks of life is quite a task that no one can do individually or collectively,” he said.
“You really have to depend on the strength of the Lord to give us his guidance in how to exhibit the love of god to people so that Jesus will be an attraction for them to come and worship him, and we have sought to do that over the six years,” Spaulding said.
Deliverance Evangelistic Church
2001 West Lehigh Avenue
Philadelphia, Pa. 19132
Rev. Glen Spaulding
10:45 a.m. service
Junious Lenwood Blackwell, affectionately called “Junie,” was a good son, brother, husband, father and grandfather. He was truly loved by his family. He died Dec. 15. He was 79.
“He was a gregarious, friendly, fun loving, loved people and whenever he was around, there was a party. He was always the life of the party,” said Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell about her brother-in-law.
“He laughed and treated everybody everywhere and was always the center of attention. He loved people and they loved him.”
Blackwell was born on Sept. 28, 1932, to Thomas W. and Mary E. Blackwell. He was the ninth of 11 children. He was educated in the Philadelphia School District. He began his Christian walk as a child by attending Sunday School at White Rock Baptist Church.
He married at a young age and had three children.
He learned at an early age the benefit of hard work. He, along with his siblings, worked in the family grocery store. He spent much of his adult life as a manager at Alex Cleaners. It was there that he met his second wife, Dorothy. They were married for 38 years.
After his retirement, he and his wife spent their later years enjoying their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Blackwell leaves to mourn: wife, Dorothy; five children, nine grandchildren, two great-grandchildren; two sisters and other relatives and friends.
Services were held December 22 at White Rock Baptist Church. Terry Funeral Home handled the arrangements.