The Rev. Robert J. McFadden is the senior pastor of Resurrection Baptist Church in West Philadelphia. If you’re interested in joining a church that is very committed to community outreach and uplift and pastoral care, then Resurrection may be your new church home.
McFadden has been the shepherd of Resurrection for three years. Before taking the reins of Resurrection, he was church administrator at First Nazarene Baptist Church for almost 17 years. He was instrumental in helping First Nazarene finish a 52,000-square-foot building project.
McFadden is a well educated man who radiates brilliance. He earned his undergraduate degree in finance with a degree in accounting from Rowan University, an MBA in corporate finance from Webster University, and he attends Reform Episcopal Seminary.”
In his three years at Resurrection, McFadden has made youth and seniors his priority. “What’s been key for us is our ability to establish very critical relationships within the community, in terms of working with the children primarily, as well as the senior population,” he said.
Under McFadden’s leadership, Resurrection rehabbed one of its properties to serve as an after-school program.
“I think that has kind of engaged us with the community in a way that we were able to really see some movement concerning the development of our children in our community,” he said.
“We currently provide services to the seniors where they come out on Wednesdays, and are able to participate, not only in a meal, but activities for fellowship. During that time, we provide information on health care, computer technology and other services and fellowship opportunities."
McFadden’s vision for Resurrection is to provide a holistic approach to uplifting and equipping people in the congregation and in the community.
"The question is, after a person gives their life to Christ, how do you integrate them into the community?," he said. "We must move outside the four walls where we worship, and take that worship into the community to provide services that will really help people, kind of progress, to rise to a level where they can literally be self sufficient and develop skills, and really increase their quality of life."
Resurrection offers a weekly meal program on Thursdays, “People can come out and get a good meal and be respected,” McFadden said. And the church also maintains a clothing ministry that gives-away gently used clothes to residents and congregation members in need.
Amber Gould, 19, attends Community College of Philadelphia, majoring in psychology.
“I was on the youth choir and the youth usher board,” Gould said. Now, her focus and time have been dominated by the demands of school, but she enjoys her Sunday worship at Resurrection. She’s been a member there since the age of 4.
“For me, I feel young people should be affiliated with a church, because that’s the way it should go,” she said. “That’s how I was raised. I feel like I can focus more on doing the right things, on the right path.”
Deacon William House, 66, chairman of the Deacons’ ministry, has been a member of Resurrection for approximately 17 years and chairman of the Deacons for two years. House is staunch about his support of the pastor and ministries of Resurrection.
“Becoming more involved in helping Pastor McFadden lead the congregation, that’s our primary obligation as deacons," he said. "Under his leadership, we have come a long way in fulfilling that task, and that’s been rewarding for me.”
House promotes evangelism, saying, “It’s also our obligation to spread God’s Word. I believe that the evangelism ministry has an impact on the community, because we are compelled not just to spread the Word, but to urge new converts to affiliate with the church."
Jacqueline Henry is executive administrator at Resurrection and she has many other duties and responsibilities. A member of Resurrection since 1965, her other ministry roles include trustee, choir ministry leader, church event planner, missionary minstry and youth ministry volunteer. Recently retired, she spends most of her time at the church explaining, “I love my church and I love my pastor.”
Over the years, Resurrection has experienced many transitions of pastors
“I've seen growth at each level,” Henry said. “Rather then stepping back, I see the congregation moving forward; even more so in the last three years with Pastor McFadden. He’s fair. There’s no cliques. He treats everybody the same. He’s a teaching pastor.”
Henry loves the fact that McFadden is community-oriented.
"He’s involved in helping the downtrodden," she said. "I like that.”
The Rev. Alfonza Miller has been a member of Resurrection for at least 20 years. He serves as the youth minister.
“I have seen children come give their life to Christ, graduate from high school, their behavior’s changed, attitude’s changed, families are coming together,” he said.
Miller believes youth ministries have significant roles in society.
“There are a lot of homes that aren’t structured as stable homes,” he said. “Single parents with a lot of busy schedules, sometimes things happen and people aren’t able to spend time with their children.”
As a result, Miller has observed that children feel neglected.
For the last four years, Bertha Lewis has served as the senior saints ministry leader. She’s been a member of Resurrection since 1957. According to Lewis, one of the biggest challenges facing seniors is, “getting around. A lot of them don’t drive,” she said.
Lewis said Resurrection’s van service is a big help in transporting seniors and those who do drive assist in transporting seniors who don’t.
Lewis tries to keep the seniors active and engaged.
“We eat a lot," she said. "We have crocheting, lunch, and we plan to go on day trips to keep us busy.
Lewis said she admires McFadden’s passion for the seniors and youth.
“He’s into the seniors and the young folks, more than anything else," she said. "And that’s what we need, we need someone that’s going to help us build our young people up to where they need to be."