Since taking the pulpit seven months ago, McKinley Memorial Baptist Church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Marlon Millner, has been a prophetic voice. On a recent Sunday morning, this North Carolina native didn’t know that he’d preach why Black History Month was more than the lessons on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So, intermingled with his keynote scriptural passage were contemporary applications of the community organizing work of the late Rev. Hosea Williams.
Thus far his spirited leadership has been inspiring the Willow Grove church. This will be evident when the church officially installs McKinley as pastor. It will take place at the Blair Mill Inn in Horsham on March 17. The event will “only be a ritual,” and won’t have much of the traditional ceremonial lineup, according to Millner.
“God called me, I was anointed, and then I was appointed to be this church’s shepherd,” Millner said. “This is just the public installation because I’ve already been doing the work. I didn’t even want it to be a black-tie banquet. The luncheon will [feature] the Rev. Dr. W. Wilson Goode who is my friend and personal mentor. We will have the Cheyney University Concert Choir because they sing both Negro spirituals and traditional anthems with talent and youthful vibrancy.
“More important than any installation is the fact that this is the flock that God has given me to serve. When my family arrived at McKinley, the people were very gracious. There’s a real family spirit here with a rich history and a rich legacy that spans generations. They want this ritual because this is one of the [hallmarks] of this church who truly worships together.”
Millner said he was called to the ministry when he was 10-years-old. During a church play he spontaneously drifted from the script and gave a short impromptu sermon on Luke 4:18. It was many years, however, before he heeded his initial call.
“I was a young man and I wanted to explore the world,” he admitted.
The pastor earned his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and became a journalist. He then earned his Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. After becoming a Pentecostal elder at the Apostle Church of God in Christ, he was ordained at the Philadelphia’s Redeemer Baptist Church. Millner also combined his media experience and ministry as communications director for the American Baptist Churches USA.
Most recently, he was the associate pastor of the Harold O. Davis Memorial Church in North Philadelphia. Besides Goode, he also singled out the Rev. Dr. Wayne Croft among his mentors.
“He really taught me the art and craft of African American preaching that prepared me for what I am doing now,” Millner said.
The pastor said that his wife of more than six years, Diana, is a blessing to his family life and congregation. The couple has two children, 5-year-old E. J. and 3-year-old Imma, who he said are his additional blessings.
He added that his wife’s background of managing multimillion dollar church accounts, fundraising, and development has provided many resources for McKinley.
“She was not one of those woman prepped to be a church first lady, but she is a wonderful asset,” Millner said.
For Millner, the spiritual strength of his family and church community is crucial. March will also be revival time at McKinley, located at 214 Cedar Ave. in Willow Grove, from March 11-13 at 7 p.m. each night. These will offer a different preacher from three different Delaware Valley churches each night. The revival is open to the community.
It’s also not too late to get tickets for the pastor’s installation luncheon. Luncheon tickets, which are $40.00 for adults and $20.00 for children age 3 to 12, will continue to be sold until March 3. For ticket information visit http://go2mckinleychurch.org/WhatisHappening.dsp or call the church at 215-659-3074.