The Christian Fellowship Ministers’ Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity, often referred to as the Saturday Evening Ministers Conference, installed new officers during an installation service Sunday held at the Sword of The Spirit Church of the Living God in Lansdowne.
During the ceremony, the Rev. Arvelle C. Jones, Sr. of White Rock Baptist Church was installed as the president of the conference and was joined by a host of family members, friends and supporters.
The event began with a banquet style meal held in the community room of the church where those in attendance enjoyed a meal and fellowship prior to the service.
“This conference was started in 1966, it was reorganized in 1968 as the Christina Fellowship Ministers Conference,” said Jones during an interview conducted at the church.
Jones described the group as a conference for ministers of all faiths and denominations with the purpose of creating a space for fellowship, instruction and edification of ministers.
The program commenced with the passing of the gavel in which the former president ceremonially handed the responsibilities and duties of the organization to the current president.
Each president serves for a term of two years.
Asked about the history and role of such conferences in Philadelphia, Jones said that there were several conferences operating in the city, among them the Monday Day Ministers Conference and the Evening Baptist Ministers Conference. The two conferences served ministers with very different schedules.
“This [the Monday Conference] sort of takes care of the pastors who do not work during the day, they are full time pastors; the Evening [Ministers Conference] are for the pastors who are bi-vocational, they work during the day but they fellowship during the evening,” Jones said.
This left a gap, says Jones. Those who neither can attend the Monday Day Conference nor the Evening Conference were left out and so the Saturday Ministers Conference was formed to meet this demand.
“This is one of the smaller conferences in Philadelphia and is along the order of the Baptist Conference; there are other minister’s conferences and all of them have different functions. The Christian Fellowship Conference is really for fellowshipping among all of the ministers and pastors.”
Jones said the Christian Fellowship Ministers Conference is different from other conferences in another aspect as well; it’s open to all ministers.
“The other conferences are mainly dominated by pastors but this conference is just ministers as opposed to just sitting pastors,” said Jones.
Bishop Robert L. Nicholson Jr. pastor of Old Ship of Zion Baptist Church, was installed as 1st Vice President of the Conference during the service and said that the Conference provided a host of services to ministers and their families as well as extending a hand to those in the wider community and says that he hoped that the community would support them to allow them to provide more services to those who need them.
“A lot of time Conferences don’t reach out and help the people that are in need, but we are focusing on zooming in on things that need to be done in the community,” Nicholson said.
Pastor Kenneth Rozier of Ark of Covenant Church was seated as 2nd vice president but was unable to attend the ceremony.
Members of the Conference meet Saturday evenings at the Old Ship of Zion Baptist Church located 2422 York St. and are opened to all ordained ministers regardless of denomination.
Those interested in learning more can contact the Rev. Jones at (215) 878-2856.
Thanksgiving dinner was served a little early this week for hundreds of families in and around West Philadelphia, who joined Abundant Life Healing Fellowship Church at 100 N. 63rd St. who received free holiday meals, live entertainment, flu shots and HIV testing Sunday.
The church, which has an 8 a.m. church service and a service at 11:30 a.m., cancelled the latter in order to open its doors to anyone in the community who had a need.
And they came, lines went extended from the churches entrance, up the stairs to its sanctuary which was converted into a cafeteria in anticipation of the guests who arrived, but it was not enough. The sanctuary soon filled to capacity and a sizable overfill room was then utilized and soon was also quickly filled.
“Once a year, Christmas and Thanksgiving we put together a support for people in the community who are less fortunate than we are,” Bishop Steven Walker said.
Asked how difficult it was to organize an event which not only fed those in need, but also provided food, clothing, flu shots and HIV testing, the organizers said that it was laborious but that they looked forward to the opportunity to serve the community.
“We have been blessed with a very special group of people who just love service and they do it and do it with all of their hearts,” said Walker about the church members who helped organize the event.
“The church has always done this [provided for the poor] and our church particularly; we never really relied upon any secular organizations for help, we basically acquired all of the funding right here in our own church,” Walker said.
Walker said that whenever an issue requiring resources arise, he appeals directly to the members of the church to support it and each month the church raise enough to provide food, clothing and toiletries for the community.
Elder Christina Butler helped coordinate the planning of the holiday event and said that several shelters from various shelters throughout the city were provided transportation by the church to attend.
“We are providing them with hot meals, food to take with them, toiletries and we are providing them clothes,” Butler said.
There was also diapers, powder and lotion for those with babies and in need of such items.
Butler described the planning and transformation of the church into a banquet style facility as difficult but says she had a lot of help.
“We just have a great support team and we were able to get it done in a timely manner. This is something that our church loves to do, we are a church that loves to give,” said Butler who said that the church not only gives to those in shelters but also the community itself.
For those who lacked adequate health care coverage, the church provided free flu shots and tests for HIV/AIDS.
“We were given approximately 120 flu vaccines from the city,” said Mary Sizer, a member of the church’s nurse ministry who said that the vaccines would be administered to those 19 years of age and healthy without any allergies to vaccines nor have tested positive for the HIV/AIDS virus.
“Today is a day to just give back to the community. Our bishop is definitely into community involvement and giving back is our mission as a community church,” Sizer said.
Pamela Davis of Sharon Baptist Church volunteered her services where she assisted with
“It’s just a wonderful feeling as a nurse to give back to the community and that is what I love to do,” Davis said.
Thanksgiving will come and go but the needs of the community remain. Walker says that the church will be there to meet those needs after the festivities of the holiday are over.
“We don’t just give on the holidays, we feed twice a month right here at Abundant Life and we have quite a pantry downstairs, not only for members, but for members of the community,” Walker said.
He said this is only possible through the support of the members of the congregation.
Six weeks ago Sen. Anthony H. Williams launched a six-week fitness initiative in several locations throughout West, Southwest and South Philadelphia offering a prize to the person who attended the most exercise sessions and had the greatest physical improvements.
While a number of people participated in these activities, there could only be one winner and the winner was Karen Y. Jones of West Philadelphia who won a year membership to LA Fitness at 2425 S. 24th St.
“I won a year’s membership to LA Fitness, ” said Jones, at LA Fitness where she received her prize.
Jones, who is from West Philadelphia, said the six-week fitness classes helped her in more ways than one.
“I just participated everyday which was just perfect for me because right now I’m unemployed,” Jones said. “Looking for a job gets to be frustrating sometimes with the economy being the way it is and so it was just everyday there was some activity to do and exercise is great for the endorphins and to keep me happy and from being upset.”
And exercise she did. Jones said that she participated in the various classes held throughout the week.
“It was grueling at first because I’m not a fitness person, but I went to hip-hop [dance exercise classes], I went to Zumba and that’s a whole hour of nonstop dancing, I went to the line dancing,” Jones said.
Although it was a struggle at first, Jones says she kept with it and began to see her tolerance for the exercise increase.
“Once my body got used to it and I got in gear, I started looking forward to it; every night it was something different to do.”
Not only did the exercise increase her endurance and helped her deal with life’s stresses, there were other benefits which Jones says she began to realize.
“Number one, I’m eating differently because exercise is no good unless you change your diet. I’m stretching in yoga and practicing that and I’m still line-dancing and I’m realizing that line-dancing is like its own culture,” Jones said.
Before participating in Williams’ Fitness Challenge, Jones says that she wasn’t really an active person and her day basically consisted of going to work and returning home to watch television.
“Its definitely has given me a better attitude, I’m more cheerful,” Jones said.
With two sons, one in college and the other who moved on his own, Jones says it is just her now and that it was time for her to build a new house for herself.
“I’m just going to come here [LA Fitness],” she said. “I have their schedule and they have Zumba, they have yoga, I can work on my abs, I’m happy.”
Desaree Jones of Sen. Williams’s office not only helped coordinate the event, but also participated in many of the exercise session and says that this year’s initiative was Williams’ third.
“The six weeks is great but that’s just an introduction as to what exercise can do so you have to continue,” Jones said.
After the shooting of four men on the 60th and Master street in West Philadelphia, last week, community organizer Mike Tabon decided he had enough with the violence and what he believes is the communities apathy, so he chained himself to a street pole on the corner to demonstrate.
“I did it because most crimes don’t take place when other criminals know that someone is waiting for them. I asked God what I could do, my kids play on this block, both my own children and the neighborhood kids,” he said.
Tabon noted he had to think creatively to find a way to diffuse what might have become an escalating conflict in the neighborhood unless someone intervened.
“The neighborhood movements are in the barbershops and that’s where they stay; the neighborhood movements are in the salons and that’s where they stay; they are in the church, but for some reason the Church’s lights are under a bushel today,” Tabon said.
Tabon said those with the resources to help often wait for grants or a crisis to respond and only then do they seek out and support individuals like himself.
“Somebody has to stand up and do something about it and lead by example and say ‘here’s how you get out of the barbershop and do something,’” he said.
No one knows what the shootings of the four men was about, but there are some speculations on the street that the men got into a minor altercation with other men who didn’t like the way they looked at them.
What is known is that the four men, ranging in age from 24 to 27, were shot in the legs and feet.
Tabon seems to think there was something more to it.
“Things happen in the ghetto and we all have our secrets,” Tabon said. “There’s too many people with crosses on their neck and big beards for Philly to be in this condition if we really are people of God.
Tabon hopes being out in the cold will make people take notice of the problems plaguing their community.
“I hoped that, before two days of being in the cold, that people would drive past, that people would hear about it and come down here,” he added.
And some did.
“All these barbershop/beauty salon complaining people, when show now Stop complaining if you aren’t going to do anything about it,” Tabon said.
Although the frigid temperatures may have kept many residents indoors, Tabon says that he nevertheless had some impact on the local community.
“Because it was so cold when I took to the corner, the guys in the neighborhood who don’t really trust nobody respect that and when you get that kind of favor, in the future you have an opportunity to communicate [with them] before bad things happen.”
Southwest Philly and Darby residents who needed a helping hand during the holiday received assistance during the Turkey Run where runners ran from 50th Street to Woodland Avenue to symbolize the growing need of those without adequate resources to feed themselves.
According to organizers, 10 people participated in the run.
After the run, member of the community gathered at New Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church at 7001 Woodland Ave. in Southwest Philadelphia and organized by community organizer Paul “Earthquake” Moore, for their chance to receive turkey baskets for the holidays.
More than 100 families were given holiday baskets containing a turkey and all of the ingredients necessary to make a traditional Thanksgiving holiday meal.
“My goal is to feed those in need. The Bible talks about being our brothers keepers and we are our brothers keepers, to feed the poor and shelter the homeless,” Moore said.
Moore said that the church not only sought to help those who lived in Philadelphia, but also provided baskets to the residents of nearby Darby borough.
“One turkey can last a family a whole week: Turkey soup, turkey salad, so that family will have food for at least 5 days,” Moore said.
The giveaway was a collaborative effort with local organizations and merchants including McDonald’s, Island Ave. Supermarket, and others who donated.
There was also the 12th Truck Club, whose New Jersey Chapter traveled to Philadelphia to help out.
“We came down here to give can goods for the homeless, you have to look take care of the homeless,” said TTG member who goes by the name OutSpoken.
Outspoken said the Jersey chapter was made aware of the turkey run by way of a text sent by the members of the Philadelphia chapter.
“We shot all the way to Philly. We feed the homeless in Jersey every Tuesday, every Thursday and every Friday; we feed the homeless, hand out blankets and give away clothes, we just give back to the needy,” Outspoken said.
“People all over the city need help,” Moore said.
During an interview Moore was adamant about providing a full meal to those in need as opposed to simply Turkey.
“I feel if we are going to give away a turkey we should also provide a whole meal with it instead of giving them the meat and leaving them on their own to fend for themselves to get them left,” Moore said.
With cuts to the benefits given to those receiving financial assistance, officials say food banks and other pantries are feeling growing demands. Moore said groups should not be selfish but work together.
“If you have the resources to help someone than you should do it, don’t make them beg. If you have the ability to help someone just do it,” Moore said.