Just the right size to serve Mt. Airy

Pastor Wesley Pinnock prays for the youth. — TRIBUNE PHOTO BY BILL ACHUFF

True Light Fellowship Church in Mount Airy is illuminating the entire Delaware Valley. In an era when the old fashioned 100-member neighborhood church is disappearing and the growth of the mega-church model, True Light is kind of that bridge between the two extremes. With about 1,300 active members from the five-county region it is large enough to avoid feeling engulfed, and it is still small enough to achieve the intimacy of a church-oriented family.

Thus, the Rev. Dr. Wesley Pinnock attributes the positive atmosphere of True Light to two things. First, there is a clear exaltation of the Jesus Christ as the head of the church. Secondly, there is the emphasis on allowing the Bible to transform lives, including living a Christian lifestyle and showing mercy to those who need a helping hand.

“This is not my church, but it is Jesus’ church,” said Pinnock, who earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from the Westminster Theological Seminary. “When Jesus Christ was on Earth he said we are to go and make disciples and baptize them. After going to heaven he sent the Holy Spirit, as we learned from the scriptures in Acts, to continue what he began. We are part of that continuation.”

Pinnock is quick to add that showing mercy involves more than just lip service. This is why the church revolves around numerous ministries that not only address the spiritual needs of the congregation and the local communities, but also gives in more tangible ways. “James said that if you are naked or hungry then those who follow Jesus Christ must demonstrate that love by clothing and feeding those who need it because this is how we demonstrate the love of Christ,” Pinnock said.

The church has a food bank that they keep replenished and local families can call to come in and get groceries. They also do continual clothing drives where one can drop off and pick up apparel. In addition, they support a full-time missionary in the African nation of Benin, contribute to foreign missions in Nigeria and Haiti, and have a partnership with Chosen 300 in North Philadelphia to feed the city’s homeless population.

Each summer the church holds its annual Community and Health Fair on the second Saturday in August. The event also includes a huge shredder where those from the surrounding area can bring all documents, mail and other paperwork they want to dispose of safely and efficiently at no cost. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, Aug. 10 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“This is truly a health fair because we even have a mobile dentist who will check you teeth,” Pinnock said. “We will be doing all the screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure. We have workshops about things that relate to personal health and the health of the community including nature.”

Since the health and welfare of children is another focus of True Light, there is always programming just for the youngsters. The church runs its own day care facility and hopes to add a school in the future. There are Sunday School classes for youngsters, and their annual Summer Day Camp will begin on Monday, June 24.

Additionally, True Light’s Young Men of Excellence meets on the first, second and fourth Friday evenings of the month to bring boys and young adult males together for fellowship. The Young Ladies of Virtues, consisting of girls from ages 3 to 18, meets on the first and fourth Friday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. These programs are open to church members and those in the surrounding community.

Furthermore, the church is in the process of reactivating its Cub and Boy Scout Troop 6400. There is a spring track team that has garnered local awards over the year. Lastly, there is an active music ministry at the church that incorporates young voices.

Pinnock was called to the missionary after immigrating to Philadelphia from the Caribbean nation of Jamaica in 1969. The wife of the family he initially resided with attended Deliverance Evangelical Church in North Philadelphia and he started attending services his first Sunday in the states. This was a new experience for Pinnock who didn’t grow up in an evangelical church and had been baptized and confirmed as a Methodist.

Gradually he felt the Lord was calling him to leave his initial undergraduate studies at Temple University and study theology at Geneva College’s Center for Urban Theological Studies or CUTZ under the direction of the Rev. Clarence Farmer. After serving as an assistant Deliverance pastor and completing his graduate degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary, he founded True Light.

The church has had two locations. First, they met at a rental space at the corner of Marvine and Grange streets in Logan. Their current location at 6400 Ardleigh was originally a synagogue and later was home to the New Covenant Church (currently located at 7500 Germantown Ave.) from 1983 to 1997. True Light was able to purchase the church in late 1997. Yet this may not be their final stop, according to Pinnock.

“We are not planning on being a mega-church,” Pinnock said. “We feel that we are the right size. We are small enough where everyone can get to know each other, but not too large. We may want to open a school, have a banquet hall, and do other things. It would be nice to have more space.”

Pinnock and his wife, Millicent, have two sons and three grandchildren. He also has a profile beyond the Northwest Philadelphia congregation. He has a radio show on WNAB Gospel Highway Eleven 1110 AM. This is aired every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 12:45 to 1 p.m.

Yet Pinnock’s focus is on this church at its current location. There it still takes many hands to make a mid-sized church run smoothly. The assistant pastors are youth pastor and pastor’s younger son Dwayne Pinnock, the music minister Morris Scott, administration pastor Derrick Johnson, missions pastor Leroy Hamilton, and Mark Humphries. The assistant pastors and church members come from an array of communities throughout the region.

“Years ago everyone usually walked to church in their neighborhood,” the older Pinnock said. “That type of church is becoming obsolete. Today we do have those who live in Mount Airy and this area who come here, but we also have members from South, West and North Philadelphia as well as Lansdale, Glenside and Roslyn. We even have members who come here from New Jersey and Delaware. They like the church because we exalt Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit continues to help us do the Lord’s will.”

“This is the church to be if you want to know your bible and acquire a relationship with God,” said Humphries, who works closely with Pinnock. “You will find that Pastor Pinnock is a man of integrity, who not only preaches well, but has the integrity to live as a man of God. He is a great role model who sets the example of striving to live out what the scriptures says. That’s why it’s a really great church.”

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