Yes, it is a mega-church and, yes, it has large congregation but worshipers won’t feel left out at Mount Airy Church of God in Christ.
The church located 6401 Ogontz Avenue has over 80 ministries designed to meet the needs and interests of its congregation.
For 10 years, Bishop J. Louis Felton has served as pastor of Mt. Airy COGIC and says the church has a saying which he believes aptly describes it
“There is no place like this place anywhere near this place so this must be the place because the Lord is in this place,” said Felton with a laugh. “We believe that where the Spirit of the Lord dwells, there is liberty and that our service and worship is acclimated by the presence and power of the Spirit. When you worship in spirit and in truth, which Jesus commanded, you create an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit is welcomed to move among his people.
“That freedom in worship and freedom in the spirit describes the manner in which we praise the Lord.”
Church isn’t just a noun at Mt. Airy COGIC, but also a verb. The members of the congregation are encouraged to get involved in church activities and there are plenty of activities for them to be involved in.
“We believe that every person should have a place to grow, to mature, to thrive in the kingdom and the best place for that is in a smaller setting which is what an auxiliary or ministry serves,” said Felton.
“Jesus was most effective in small group settings. He could preach to 5,000 and feed them but when you really want to hear Jesus deal with doctrinal depth and spiritual matters, he would take the 12 [disciples] apart and he would engage in dialogue in a small group setting.”
Felton said Mt. Airy COGIC believed strongly in personal development, accountability and spiritual growth and maturity are most effective in smaller group settings.
“If a person never joins an auxiliary or a ministry, then they simply become a face in the crowd but after the benediction is given is the most critical time in the life of a believer because that’s when your personal accountability is most involved,” he said.
“Worship is great but after worship comes service.”
The ministries at Mt. Airy COGIC include but are not limited to such things as the nurse’s ministry, ushers ministry, youth ministries, teen ministries, a men’s ministry, a ministry for young women, and ministries specifically designed to meet the needs and concerns of seniors.
The list of active ministries at Mt. Airy COGIC is long.
“So, every aspect of a believers life needs a specific and tailored time to ministry,” said Felton. “The Lord recognizes that we are all going through various developmental stages at different periods of our lives, so God is there, each period of development to help steady our course and our faith journey.”
Gertrude Scutt attended another local church until she decided to visit Mt. Airy COGIC nearly two decades ago.
When she came, she joined.
“That was my first time and my last time as a visitor,” said Scutt. “Mostly what’s keeping me here is the people, the fellowship and of course, the leadership of the church.”
Scutt said that another factor for her dedication to the church is because she is very active in the various ministries and activities at the church.
“I not only want to make a difference in my life but also the people that I help within this church which is what keeps me coming back every time,” she said.
Margaret McDonald has been at Mt. Airy COGIC for more than 30 years. She said she was looking for a church home when someone brought her to the church.
“What drew me closer there and kept me there was Bishop Ernest C. Morris,” said McDonald.
Bishop Ernest C. Morris is founder and prelate of Mt. Airy COGIC and passed the baton to current senior pastor, Felton. Now the two work side-by-side ministering to the congregation.
“The Word actually kept me here, the people kept me here,” said McDonald. “I’ve been fed in this church and I decided to stay,” McDonald said.
McDonald said the Word of God is delivered with power and authority at Mt. Airy COGIC.
“When you hear the Word of God, it keeps you here, the ministry is phenomenal,” she said. “There are so many auxiliaries that wherever God called you, you can fit in and this is what I love about this church.”
And the leadership is warm and welcoming she said.
“When you walk in that door, the people are warm, they’re smiling, they’re welcoming. It’s a big mega-church but its not like you’re secluded. We’re involved. I know everybody and If I don’t know you, I’m going to say hello with a smile and I’m going to hug you and you’re going to feel welcome too.”
Elder Stanley E. Stocker, III said that one of the things that keep the church going is that it has so many auxiliaries/ministries which allows them to meet the needs of the community.
“The thing that keeps me coming is that community issues are addressed,” said Stocker. ‘Racism, poverty, discrimination, crime, that effects our community.
“That’s one thing that I can say about our bishop, which is our senior pastor, J. Louis Felton, is that he preaches the gospel that relates to the people in our community, he preaches about social justice issues that affects us all and I think that keeps a lot of people in the community coming because he’s unafraid to speak out on issues other people in many churches are afraid to speak on.”
This is what Jesus did, said Stocker.
“He [Jesus] spoke to the social justice issues that impacted everyone so many people came to Jesus Christ because of that, they were drawn to him,” said Stocker. “I believe many people are drawn to this church because of those issues that deeply or personally affect them, we minister to those issues.”