Fellowship and sharing blessings are important to the members of the First African Baptist Church, located at 1608 Christian St. Every Saturday at noon, the church is open for a feeding ministry with home cooked meals for people who are in need.
Lilian Henderson (Mother Henderson) volunteered to run the feeding ministry in 2005 and has been running it since.
“We have a two purpose goal — our goal is to feed them spiritually and also physically,” Henderson said. “We give them very good meals — a well balanced meal.”
Each Saturday, Mother Henderson and other members of the church serve individuals who come on Saturdays. In an effort to incorporate other forms of assistance to those who come each week, Mother Henderson coordinates visits with individuals in various fields, like social work.
The individuals who attend come from all walks of life. Len Armstead started coming last year and feels it is a place for healing.
“I feel like I’m at a place where I can unwind spiritually,” he said. “We all have one goal, and that’s to seek God.”
Pastor Terrance Griffith is pleased with the development of the feeding program and finds gratification in seeing the progress and development of those who attend.
“Ms. Henderson has built one of the most successful feeding programs I’ve ever seen,” he said. “We’ve seen lives change through the feeding program.”
The historic First African Baptist Church has made its impact on the Philadelphia community since 1809. The feeding ministry is one way the church continues to reach out to the community.
Jeffrey Harris, Philadelphia resident, heard about the program through a few friends in the area. Harris believes the blessings go way beyond the food. He believes he has learned a lot from the visitors and the different activities incorporated into the program.
“It’s a beautiful thing, you get to meet different people and learn a lot.” He said. “The food is always fantastic—there’s just a lot of love here.”
Barbara Ford has been involved with the church since the ’60s but didn’t come faithfully until the passing of her brother in 2008. Her brother was a consistent member of the church and his funeral service at First African Baptist, drew her to want to rejoin. As chair of the church’s trustee board, she finds the feeding ministry to make a great impact on the Philadelphia community.
“It’s beneficial to the neighborhood because they really look forward to every Saturday,” she said. “It’s all about giving back to the community.”
Those who come to First African Baptist on Saturdays, leave with advice, friendships and satisfied appetites.