Wherever Jesus was depicted in the gospels, he was feeding the poor, healing the sick, or providing for those in need. There is a place where you can go where such ministry still takes place — where each week, food is provided for the hungry, those in prison or in the hospital are visited, and clothes and other assistance is given to those in need of a helping hand.
At Deliverance Evangelistic Church at 2001 W. Lehigh Ave. in North Philadelphia, the church isn’t just a place where you go one day a week for worship but a place that is accessible seven days a week and where both the spirit and the stomach are fed.
Dot Newton, who has been a member for more than 30 years and serves as executive director of Deliverance’s Community Development Corporation, raves about the work her church is doing for its members and the community it serves.
“What I love about this church is that it is a giving church,” said Newton.
“We are housed in a community of low-incomed people and people who are impoverished and subject to every ill in society. Deliverance address those ills and we address them out of our own pocket.”
“We feed the hungry, help house the homeless and clothe the naked. We subscribe to the Word, we adhere to the Word of God,” she said.
“I love Deliverance because you can attend this church and be a doctor and sit next to a homeless person. No one is turned away because of how they look or how they dress or how they act. We accept everyone through our doors,” Newton said.
Just like the world outside the church, members of Deliverance include all kinds of people with all kinds of personalities, Newton said.
“But you tend to look and act like the leader, and our pastor sets the example of a humble person, a giving person, a faithful person. I can assure you, I guarantee you, that you won’t find his name in any paper, in any scandal because of money or anything else that is contrary to the Word of God.”
The Rev. Glen Spaulding has pastored Deliverance for 17 years and those interviewed for this article all attest to his humble nature and dedication to service to those in need.
Spaulding ascended the altar of the growing church in 2002 after the death of its founder and first pastor, Benjamin Smith, who formed the church 58 years ago out of a prayer meeting that started in his home.
“As he began to teach God’s Word and pray and lead people to grow, the church grew out of that,” Spaulding said.
The church secured a location at 22nd Street and Columbia Avenue and continued to grow and then acquired a former movie theater in the Tioga section of the city.
The church relocated to North Philadelphia to meet the needs of the community, said Spaulding.
“[Smith] felt that the Lord wanted him to go back to North Philadelphia and be a blessing there and build up the community,” said Spaulding.
“We’re blessed to not only be able to preach the gospel here in the church, but then be able to supply for the needs of the community.”
The church not only provides recreational and educational opportunities and services for youth and young adults but also partners with area colleges. Students can earn an associate’s degree at Harcum College, a bachelor’s degree at Pierce College or a degree in Biblical Studies at Lancaster Bible College.
The church also has its own Bible Institute. “We have several schools. On the second floor of our church we have over 30 classrooms,” Spaulding said.
“Kids, and really anybody, can come and earn a degree right here at the church. They don’t have to go out on the Main Line to get an education. They come in the evenings or the daytime for classes,” said Spaulding.
“It’s all a part of ministering to people spiritually, physically, emotionally, educationally so that they can be successful in this life,” he said.
Evangelist Idona Freeman joined Deliverance 28 years ago.
“As members of other churches, we had so many community activities with the Deliverance and Just the Word that was going forth, there was such a presence of God and the church itself was a body that embraced everybody,” said Freeman.
“You felt really a part of Deliverance. I was a part of Deliverance before I was a part of Deliverance because before my name was on the roll, I was doing things with them and I believe that what caused me to actually become a pledged member was that I wasn’t getting what I was getting here any place else.”
Freeman said she was in church all of her life and came from a family of ministers and knew the Word of God. She knew what to look for in a church and she found what she was looking for at Deliverance Evangelistic.
“And I believe in my pastor. Pastor Spaulding is a humble man of God, he is a true man of God and he continually reaches out. He’s not disconnected from the actual body, he’s involved. What keeps me here is the prayer, the Word going forth and the love that you see every day,” Freeman said.
Dr. Bruce Williams, a family medical practitioner, joined with his late wife in 1981 and said it was the anointing upon the church that attracted him to Deliverance.
“You could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit when you walked into the place, so it was the anointing that drew us here,” said Williams.
“I’m here because my soul is being fed at this place and I’m blessed because we have had two wonderful shepherds, Pastors Benjamin Smith and Glen Spaulding, preach the Word of God, under the anointing of God to the people of God and this is why I stay.”
Whether its education, recreation, counseling, ministry or social services, Deliverance has taken up the mantle of service passed on by Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago and has no intention of ever doing otherwise.