People go to places of worship to be spiritually uplifted, but many of those with physical disabilities must first be physically lifted to enter them.
For this reason, the Philadelphia Masjid in West Philadelphia, is seeking to raise funds to acquire a special elevator lift which, would make the Masjid handicapped accessible for those who cannot climb the facilities stairs.
On March 23, Philadelphia Masjid will host a movie matinee where the public is invited to see a movie, enjoy snacks and fellowship to raise money for the lift.
“It’s a project that has been going on for some time,” said Wesley Wilson-Bey who helps coordinates the fundraising events at the Masjid. “The lift will cost us $15,000 and so far we raised $5,000.”
The money acquired so far was the result of two other fundraisers that were held for the project.
“There is a large handicapped community that would like to come to the Masjid and pray but because the Masjid is not handicap accessible, it leaves a lot of believers or even those who would like to visit to see what Islam is about, unable to do so,” said Wilson-Bey.
That’s where Wilson-Bey and others have stepped up to try to help raise the necessary funds.
Previous fundraisers included a dinner and an earlier movie at the Masjid where people purchased tickets to see the movie ‘Taken’.
This time, the fundraiser will feature the movie ‘Beast of the Southern Wild’, a PG-rated movie starring Quvenzhane Wallis and directed by Benh Zeitlin.
The price for admission to see the movie is $10. A hotdog and popcorn are included in the price of the ticket. Children under 10 will pay $5.
“You can’t go to a movie today for $10,” Wilson-Bey said. “This elevator lift is important, not just for the believers at the Philadelphia Masjid but for the handicapped community at large. It is something that everyone would benefit from.”
Just as there are Muslims who are handicapped and need the lift to enter the Masjid but would also make it possible for other members of the community to visit to simply learn about the religion or attend there services. In this way, it would, according to Wilson-Bey, help foster understanding and unity.
“It would help others to really learn what Islam is really about as opposed to what they might see or read about in the papers that would give them a slanted and negative view of what Islam is about,” he said.
“Islam is truly a religion of peace and we at the Philadelphia Masjid try to live up to the true tenets of Islam which is to have peace, not only within ourselves but also with everyone else around us.”
The lack of accessibility for the handicapped does a disservice to the handicapped community, according to Wilson-Bey. It also denies them a fair and equal opportunity to do what they would otherwise do if not for their disability. In this way it strips them of the freedom of choice and ability to worship.
Wilson-Bey, who is a very active organizer in Philadelphia, credits his wife, Ansa, for his ability to successfully work for the community.
“The Moorish Unification Council couldn’t do anything without my wife, she is the driving force,” he said.
There will be two showings at the Philadelphia Masjid on March 23. First viewing will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the second will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Also, those interested in donating to the elevator lift fund can contact Wesley Wilson-Bey at (215) 476-0280.
It’s official, Salem Baptist Church in Jenkintown now has a new pastor. The Rev. Marshall Paul Hughes Mitchell was installed during a service on Sunday.
The church was filled with members and well-wishers who included visiting clergy and elected officials. Every seat was filled and attendants helped navigate drivers to available parking spaces in the neighborhood.
“Holy, holy, holy” sang the choir during the procession that commenced the service, which was marked by fellowship and laughter as speaker after speaker took the podium to congratulate Marshall and the members of Salem.
“This is your house, this is your servant and this is your city,” said the Rev. Charles Howard, who gave the invocation as he petitioned God to bless the new pastor.
“This is a partnership between a church family that is made in heaven,” said Congressman Chaka Fattah, who praised Marshall for his dedication, commitment and history of service. “He has prepared himself to stand in this pulpit.”
District Attorney Seth Williams kept the audience laughing during his address.
“I am very thankful to be a part of this wonderful service. We know that your father would be very proud,” said Williams, who acknowledged having known Marshall since high school.
“The impact that Reverend Marshall will have, his influence, will reverberate for years to come, and that’s why I’m here.”
Williams said he has gone to places around the world lstudying the best practices for law enforcement as Philadelphia’s district attorney, but that the most important thing he has learned through his travels was contained in the concept of “Ubuntu” which he learned in South Africa.
The word, which Williams says is the equivalent ‘humanity’ in English, is encapsulated in the South African phrase: “I am because you are, and because you are, I am.”
“My friend Marshall understands Ubuntu,” said Williams.
Robert Bogle, CEO of The Philadelphia Tribune, congratulated the new pastor and spoke to the congregation about destiny.
“There are some things that are predictable and some things that are destined. Having Marshall here is not only a blessing, but is destined,” said Bogle. “Many of your tomorrows will be better than your yesterdays only because you have been blessed to share his presence.”
The charge to the church was given by the Rev. W. Wilson Goode, Sr. whose address was marked by moments of humor but nevertheless contained serious instructions to members of Salem’s congregation.
“I am honored to have this opportunity to charge you – about $100 apiece,” said Goode, whose remark was met with uproarious laughter.
Goode went on to remind the members of the church that God has chosen a leader and that the new pastor will require the support and participation of the congregation.
“I charge you, no matter how long you have been here or how much money you give, to remember that it is God’s church, and I charge you to see it that way,” said Goode. “Secondly, I challenge you to let this church be a lighthouse in this community.”
He instructed the congregation to allow the new pastor to do the work of a pastor and avoid attempts to usurp his leadership and guidance.
“If you are not the pastor, do not act like you are.”
This message was reinforced by the Rev. Albert Franklin Campbell, Sr., pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, who titled his message, “A pastor’s job description.”
After the ceremony, the members of the church and visitors enjoyed a time of fellowship when they dined together and had an opportunity to celebrate the occasion.
Marshall, Salem’s 11th pastor, has a long history of educational and corporate achievement. A graduate of Howard University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, philosophy and the classics, he also studied theology at New York’s Union Theological Seminary.
“He deftly melds secular business acumen with spiritual accountability and promise,” read materials distributed by the church.
Members of Sinai Tabernacle Baptist Church celebrated their 75th anniversary Sunday at their church located at 2737 W. Lehigh Ave..
The event was marked by song and fellowship as the church, founded in 1938, celebrated the occasion. Members filled the sanctuary and stood in unison as the Sinai Tabernacle Mass Choir sang its rendition of “We’ve come this far by faith.”
In its 75 years, Mt. Siani has had its difficulties and challenges. In fact their humble beginnings began in the basement of a church in 17th Street and Montgomery Avenue. It later moved to a vacant garage in the 1500 block of Thompson Street. In 1940, it relocated to an old dilapidated storehouse at 17th and Poplar streets where it remained until 1961 and it was moved to its present location.
Longevity appears to be a regular feature of the church.
“Our church has been blessed with four centenarians, three passed on, one is still living and there are also six members in their 90’s,” said Deacon Hanible, Sr.
As a part of its regular service, the church honors distinguished members and elder members.
“We always have someone who has been here for a long time give our reflections [during service],” said Hanible. During the anniversary, it was Robert Archie Jr., a lawyer who is a longtime member of the church.
Donna Gooden, chair of the publicity committee said that the church has a close-knit fellowship.
“We work together here as a faith family, we don’t have a pastor now but we continue on and we are interested in working with our young people, people of all from cradle to the grave,” said Gooden.
The theme chosen for this year’s anniversary was “Progress through togetherness.” The church leadership said it was this togetherness that got them through difficult periods.
Another long time member, Ruth Heyward, the current chairperson of the history committee, has been a member of the church for 66 years.
“I came here as a teenager in the 1940’s, the pastor saw something in me and put in various positions,” said Heyward. Through the years, Heyward has served as church clerk, publicity chair and is now the church historian.
“It’s been a long journey… and we are still on this corner,” she said.
Clarence E. Plummer serves on the board of Trustees and said that the church’s annual theme, “Progress through togetherness” included other places of worship as well.
“The whole week has been a blessing in the tabernacle. We had different services throughout the week and different churches coming together, it has been just wonderful and I hope it continues throughout the year,” said Plummer.
Although the church can boast of members who have been a part of the church for decades, the youth presence was also significant during the anniversary service.
Deacon Monroe G. Byrd conducted the morning prayer, giving thanks for the church’s 75 years of service. He also prayed that God would send the church a pastor to lead the church.
If one West Philadelphia resident had her way, the criminal justice system would be fair and dispense justice without regard to color, income, or social status.
To help make this happen, Timika Lane has decided to run for Judge of Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.
Lane, an attorney who has prosecuted criminal cases, has plenty of work and life experience under her belt. She has worked as a defense attorney, prosecutor, chief counsel for Sen. Anthony H. Williams, and has taught 7th-grade social studies in classrooms.
However, she was motivated to run, because of her experiences in the courtroom.
“What made me decide to run was the things that I have seen over the years. I saw people treated disrespectfully based on their socio-economic status,” said Lane during an interview for this article. “The people who were poor were treated differently than people who had money.”
She noted said language may determine how a person was treated in the court of law.
Lane recalls one incident in particular in which a defendant, who was ordered to pay monthly fines and court costs, was unable to do so. Although Lane said the client worked and struggled to pay her court ordered fees as scheduled, she fell behind.
The woman, a mother, who appeared in court with her child, was arrested by the judge despite the fact she was accompanied by her young child.
The judge ordered Lane to call the Department of Human Services to take the child. She refused pleading with the judge to allow her to contact a relative of the child.
Lane was successful in contacting a family member who later came to take custody of the child, but the Judge would not delay the mother’s case.
Lane was set with the task of defending her clients while caring for a young child until a relative was able to pick the child u.
“I saw how people were treated if they were poor and they couldn’t their final court payments,” Lane said. “Let’s try to think of something that people could do to show that they are serious about resolving the issue.”
Reduced payments on fines for those with low income or community service are some of the ways she suggested the court could address the issue.
“It was a long time coming,” Lane said. “I prayed on it, talked about it with my pastor, my family, my mom and my daughter; this really was a family decision.”
Outside the courtroom, Lane is an active member of Bright Hope Baptist Church and sits on its Board of Trustees. She directs the New Life Ministries and works with the Youth Scholars program. She’s also vice-president of the hospitalities committee.
“God has given me this vision, I have to continue to serve,” she said.
Games of chance have earned big money for casinos, but it could also benefit small non-profit organizations that help the community, according to a seminar hosted by State Rep. Vanessa L. Brown on Thursday March 7.
The seminar was held at the Community College of Philadelphia West Philadelphia branch at 4700 Chestnut St.
Representatives and members of non-profit organizations filled room 111 at the college to listen to presenters explain how small games of chance can be used by local organizations. Attendees also discussed current rules and regulations specific for such use.
“When we authorized gaming in Pennsylvania, most people think of the casinos, but it is also another way for average folks to participate and earn some income and that’s through small games of chance,” Brown said.
Brown said games of chance such as raffles, Bingo and others can help organizations serve the communities in which they operate as long as they are licensed by the state and meet other requirements.
“As long as they are acting in accordance with the law, they can earn anything from $5000 a month to $100,000 a year that would go to their non-profit, community development or any type of improvement project they may have,” Brown said.
Asked what motivated her to hold the training, Brown said it was the ability to have a direct impact on the lives of those serving the community.
“We pass so many laws as state representative and finally I saw a law that I could help our community learn about and implement and actually benefit them,” she said.
Brown does not gamble and acknowledges some people might have trouble with anything having to do with gambling. She noted people have to be realistic.
“A lot of money is made off our community through gaming so here is another way to capture some of the money that we are spending in our community in those venues and keep that money at home and impact our communities.”
The forum was also co-sponsored by State Rep. James Roebuck and Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell.