Taylor Memorial: Revival to note pastor’s anniversary

Members and visitors of Taylor Memorial Baptist Church recite the Offertory Prayer. — SHIRA YUDKOFF/TRIBUNE PHOTOGRAPHER

There’s something special about a church that has a praise and worship experience that’s soul-stirring; where people greet you with a warm and friendly welcome; where smiles, laughter and love saturate the atmosphere. There’s something powerful about a praying church where the preaching and Bible studies are solidly rooted in Biblical doctrine.

Taylor Memorial Baptist Church is such a church, and the Rev. G. Lamar Stewart, the senior pastor, leads it.

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Taylor Memorial is a small church with a gigantic heart for praising and worshiping God, and it has a strong teaching ministry, as reflected in its theme: “A Church Powering Disciples to Make Disciples!” With a perfect balance of youth and senior saints, Taylor Memorial’s blended praise and worship experience incorporates a unique mix of traditional hymns and contemporary gospel music that doesn’t disappoint.

Stewart, 26, a U.S. Army veteran, will celebrate his one-year anniversary as the senior pastor at Taylor Memorial this Sunday. Prior to being called to that pulpit, he was a member (since 1999) of the famed Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church under the leadership of the renowned Rev. Dr. Alyn Waller.

When you hear Stewart preach, you quickly realize that he’s been thoroughly prepared to preach and teach the Word of God by one of the best preachers in America.

“The Lord has called me in a very unique way to this branch of Zion. I have a very intense passion around teaching. I believe every preacher ought to be a teacher. Every teacher may not be a preacher, but every preacher ought to be a teacher,” said Stewart. His ministry ethos is to offer strong Biblical teaching to develop and produce authentic disciples of Jesus Christ.

To celebrate the pastor’s anniversary, Taylor Memorial is hosting a fall church revival. The lineup of guest preachers for Sunday’s 11 a.m. service includes the Rev. Willett Burgie Bryant, the chaplain/director of student formation and seminary of Palmer Seminary;for the 3 p.m. service, the Rev. Dr. Waller; for Monday and Tuesday 7 p.m. services the Rev. A.L. Perkins, senior pastor of Tabernacle of Faith Missionary Baptist Church, San Francisco;.;  and Wednesday at 7 p.m. the Rev. Dr. Kevin R. Johnson, senior pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church.

Albertha Baily, 46, joined Taylor Memorial in February and now serves on the Deaconess ministry. She’s all about serving God’s people, “My role is basically service to the people in any way that I can, whether it be (serving) the people in the church or the people in the community.”

She said that after attending one service, she was hooked, “Once I got here I started feeling the Spirit of the Lord. I couldn’t sleep (at night), I couldn’t go anywhere else. There was nowhere else for me. Taylor is about helping the people.”

Connie Clanton, 49, a trustee, has been a member of Taylor Memorial for three years. “(I) oversee the finances of the church. We don’t believe in doing fundraisers. The challenge is having the people adhere to what God’s Word is, as far as paying their tithes and understanding what that means,” he said.

Clanton said the youth and wisdom of Stewart has the ability to reach a broad range of people, “He’s a person that follows the direction of the Holy Spirit. He has the spirit of an old person; he can reach all people, as far as our seniors and young people. What’s wonderful is that we’re having a new understanding about what God would have us to do. We’re learning a new thing about what missions need to be.”

Clanton said Taylor Memorial’s local missions work has included cleanup of a local Boys and Girls Club in Nicetown, visiting the sick and shut-in, and on the second Friday and third Saturday of the month, church members conduct street evangelism.

The oldest member of the church is Georgia Gonsalves, 86, and she proudly shared that, “We have a wonderful young pastor of this church and he brings the Word of God every week. I will tell anyone to come to hear him.”

With 50 years of membership at Taylor Memorial, Gonsalves is very impressed with how Stewart is drawing young and older members to the church. Gonsalves reflected on how she was originally drawn to the church via the ministry of the Rev. Walter C. Wynn.

“(Wynn) was the one that really built the church; he was here for 23 years,” she said. “He was a wonderful man.”

Wynn, as director of the Philadelphia Fellowship Commission and director of its Council for Equal Job Opportunity, battled racial discrimination in Philadelphia. Of note, he challenged the Philadelphia Gas Works to end corporate discriminatory practices of unions and companies that received contracts. He died in 1992, at age 89.

Robin McDaniel, 53, has been a member for three years and serves as the administrator for Taylor Memorial. He named some of the Church ministries. “We have our Women’s Ministry, we have our Men’s Ministry, we have our new and exciting Sanctuary Choir that is for all ages, and we do have a Dance Ministry…and our (Wednesday night) Bible Study is off the chain.”

Desiree Regina “Dezzie” Neal, 33, a radio personality at Praise Philly/WPPZ, 103.9FM, joined Taylor Memorial earlier this year. She is the minister of music there.

She said, “I instruct the choir, I do vocal assessment and guidance, lead Praise and Worship, and (oversee) all other music ministry duties." Neal added, "We are a grassroots church, we don’t mind getting dirty for the Kingdom, we go out! Our pastor believes in evangelism, he believes in hitting the ground running. (Pastor Stewart preaches a) relevant Word, a timely Word, and it is, I’ll say, (an) edible (Word)."

Most impressive was the testimony of Lamar Alexander, 29, who’s lived a hard life in the streets. Alexander is the leader of the young adult ministry at Taylor Memorial. He is a transformed man with a sincere and loving heart to serve Jesus Christ.

“I represent the young adults 30 and under,” he said. “I’m happy to be here.”

Alexander has numerous tattoos and he sports dreadlocks; he commented on his unconventional appearance.

“Like Grandmom used to say, ‘It ain’t how we look on the outside, it’s always about what’s going on on the inside,’” he explained.

Alexander has been a member of Taylor Memorial for seven months; he’s been saved for four months. He is the father of two lovely girls and works at Cooper Hospital in Camden. He aspires to get married one day.

Alexander was attracted to Taylor Memorial by his aunt and the youthfulness of Stewart.

“I was in the streets doing a lot of nonsense, ya know what I mean. My grandfather and my father are both in jail right now. My grandfather is doing life. My father has been in jail out of my life. I can’t get to Heaven with nobody but myself. So, I got to do what I got to do to turn my life around for my two daughters. There’s nothing like church…believing in God. The streets ain’t the same, man, ain’t nothing like believing in God, when God got your back, you’re good to go. Ain’t nothing like having God behind you.”


Taylor Memorial Baptist Church

3819-21 Germantown Ave.

Philadelphia, PA 19140

11 a.m. Service

(215) 221-6100

Pastor: The Rev. G. Lamar Stewart

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