It began as a group of believers who met at the home of Richard Berry at 4100 Lombard St. for Bible study. That was in 1833. From that body of believers emerged what is today Mount Pisgah African Methodist Church now located 428 N. 41st St. in West Philadelphia.
Over the years, the community and the people have changed but one thing remained constant, “We have always tried to be about holistic ministry. We try to feed people spiritually, but we also try to provide for other needs that people have,” said the Rev. Jay Broadnax, pastor of Mount Pisgah.
“We try to be an integral part of the community. Right now, our focus is really to open the church up and make it more available to the community as much as we possibly can, so we are involved in a number of things.”
Quite a number of things to be exact. The church serves as a gathering place for the community. The local Registered Community Organization’s (RCO’s) meet on the church grounds twice a month. The place is also one where the homeless are fed hot meals every Saturday and other services are also provided such as the free tax preparation programs.
There is also a G.E.D preparation program to help those seeking a high school diploma to prepare for the General Equivalency exam. There are also several choirs, mime and dance ministries and other active ministries.
“We try to give people an engaging and energizing experience with God when they come on Sunday and an opportunity to grow,” Broadnax said. “We are also a P.O.W.E.R. Congregation, Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild, and through that we have been very involved in voter mobilization and advocacy.”
At Mount Pisgah there are no shortage of activities, programs and services available for members and the public, but they haven’t lost sight of their mission.
“Of course, our first responsibility being a church is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. We’re really trying to give people hope in these days and times,” Broadnax said.
Kim Jordan is a member of the stewards board and serves on the commission of worship. The commission of worship organizes the various aspects of worship for the services at Mount Pisgah.
Jordan describes his church as one that really believes in God and says the pastor as a great teacher.
“The pastor makes sure that we are all grounded in the Lord,” said Jordan, who has been at the church for over 15 years. “He [Broadnax] demands that all of the trustees and steward board attends either Bible study or church school to make sure that we are well educated in AME background and the Bible. We are called disciples of the Lord and our mission is to go out and save souls. We are very involved with the community.”
Jordan loves his church family.
“They are a loving family and are are known to be loving,” Jordan said about his church family. “We’re known to really appreciate people and invite them into our church. Whatever issues they may have, we are here for them as a family.”
Upon entering Mount Pisgah AME, visitors are often greeted by the friendly smile of Ricky McCarter who has worked security at the church and has been a member for 10 years.
“Ten years ago, I had a tragedy in my family, my father passed away. I was working here part-time in security and this church really saved my life,” McCarter said. “The people of the church just opened their arms to me and lifted me up and I’ve been here ever since.”
When asked about the congregation, McCarter had one word, “indescribable”.
“They are very nice, very considerate, very thoughtful. It’s good to be here,” he said.
McCarter said Broadnax would do anything he could for anyone. He added that while the members of other churches might lose their connection with one another over time as they grow, Mount Pisgah has managed to retain its intimacy with members through the years.
“We stay connected to one another because this is a family-oriented church,” McCarter said. “People, their great-grandparents, their grand-parents and their parents were married here, they got saved here, and baptized here and raise their kids here. You see it every day.”
And the services?
“The services are great,” McCarter said. “We have livestream so you can get the services any time or any place you want, you can get them overseas or in the states. The services are always good.”
And, another factor that helps keep the members bonded tight is the fellowship they have one with another. Plus, some good food.
“They are always feeding; they are always eating. If you come to service you are bound to get something to eat after service,” said McCarter with a laugh.