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July 31, 2014, 3:28 am

Churches gather to ‘speak truth to power’

The Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild, also known as POWER, drew hundreds from Northwest Philadelphia to the standing room only crowd of 2,000 recently for its inaugural founding convention recently.

Congregations came from Mount Airy, West Oak Lane and Germantown to the Tindley Temple United Methodist Church in South Philadelphia. The event, which had the high energy of a political rally, was held on Sunday.

The showing from Northwest Philadelphia was evident. Some 80 parishioners from the St. Raymond of Penafort Church filled the front right section of the sanctuary. Another busload came from the St. Therese of the Child Jesus Church on the other side of Stenton Avenue in Mount Airy. Dozens were seated front and center from St. Benedict’s Church in West Oak Lane as well as from the St. Vincent de Paul Church in Germantown.

Additionally, representatives came from the Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Roxborough, another busload from the Woodcrest United Church of Christ, a group from the St. Martin-in-the-Field Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill, the Second Baptist Church of Germantown, Masjidullah, Inc. located on upper Ogontz Avenue, and others from the newer Chestnut Hill United Church.

“I think this is great,” said James Collins of Mount Airy, a member of St. Raymond’s Church. “I think that if we can all work together we can get some things done.”

“I am very excited about the future of our city with POWER,” said Binta Diallo of Mount Airy, a registered nurse and another St. Raymond’s parishioner. “I think that if that they can demand jobs for all who want to work. I’m just enthused that this is a group in a position to take action. I hope that they will have a positive impact on the city.”

Many declarations were made at the POWER convention. Councilman Bill Green said that now that City Council “has banned the box” to assist ex-offenders secure employment he is up for the challenge of eliminating credit checks as part of the pre-employment process. This received thunderous applause and scattered standing ovations.

Mayor Michael Nutter when answering a question about job creation in Philadelphia opted to quote directly from the Biblical passage of Ephesians 6:10–12 where he said that the struggle “is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness with the evil spirits.” He, too, received a rousing standing ovation.

“It’s time for the people to stand up and demand our fair share because some who are blocking it are evil,” said Bianca Warren of Germantown. “I agree with Mayor Nutter that this is a high energy crowd because we are fired up. We are going to hold him accountable and all the others.”

POWER is funded by the Philadelphia foundation, the William Penn Foundation, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, the Bread and Roses Community Funds, the Allen Hilles Fund, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Presbyterian USA Community Organizing Fund and its 44 charter member churches. It is an affiliate of the PICO National Network. The group will hold its Northwest Cluster meeting at the Woodcrest Church, 8105 Thouron Ave. on Thursday, Oct. 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.