History of Southwest Philadelphia
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Southwest Philadelphia SDA Church stands today as a testimony of what faith, perseverance, and hard work can accomplish.
It’s eventful past dates back to 1971 when two branch Sabbath School programs conducted in the homes of Clorice Hayes and the late Benita Boyer were consolidated into the Southwest Mission under the leadership of Elder Alfred R. Jones, Pastor of the Ebenezer SDA Church.
These small groups of believers were former members of Ebenezer SDA Church in South Philadelphia. As they spread the Third Angel’s Message in the Southwest Philadelphia community, they faced many obstacles, chief of which was the lack of a permanent place to conduct their worship service.
They found a temporary place of worship in the New Home Mission Baptist Church in the 5200 block of Woodland Avenue. A few months later, with the assistance of Elder Jones, they obtained a storefront in the 4800 block of Woodland Avenue where worship services were held until 1973.
During Elder Jones’ tenure in Philadelphia, the worship services at the Southwest Mission were scheduled to facilitate his presence at the meetings. The Divine Hour Service was held during the Sabbath School period; Sabbath School was conducted on Sabbath afternoons; and, Prayer Meeting was held on Tuesday evenings.
Under the leadership of Elder Dorsey, President of Allegheny East Conference, the Southwest Mission with its twelve charter members was formally organized as the Southwest Philadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church and accepted into the Allegheny East Conference of Churches in 1972. The twelve charter members were:
Clorice Hayes * Betty LaHart * Amy Love * William Holloway
Sara Lee * Dorothy McRae * Dorothy Joint * Jeannette Ligon
Katherine Murray * Kenneth Palmer * Pamela Palmer
Elder Kenneth Palmer was appointed to serve the church as Lay Pastor. He served for several months and helped the church overcome many difficult situations and setbacks. Later in 1972, Elder James W. Warren accepted the call from Elder Jones to replace Elder Palmer as the Lay Pastor. The decision made by the former Elder from Mt. Olivet SDA Church in Camden, NJ was a major factor in the growth of the new church.
The Decade of the 80s
“And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” Exodus 25:8.
The decade of the 80s was one of challenges, victories, and new beginnings for Southwest. In his “State of the Church Address” in January, 1980, Elder Warren spoke to the members about his goal for the 80s, one of which was the vision of a new church building on the lot at 1220 South 58th Street. Like David, Elder Warren had a vision of a new temple but this dream would not be realized during his tenure.
In December 1982, Elder Warren preached his last sermon as the pastor of Southwest. He had pastored the church faithfully for ten years. The results of his dedicated service were seen in tithe gain, increase in offerings, and growth in membership.
He worked under the banner of the Ebenezer-Southwest District, headed first by Elder A. R. Jones and secondly by Elder D. B. Simons, then under the banner of the West-Southwest District, headed by the Elder George Braxton.
The end of Elder Warren’s tenure at Southwest marked the end of an era for the church. Elder William Linthicum was appointed by the conference to pastor the newly organized Mizpah-Southwest District. Southwest continued to prosper under his leadership.
His tenure ended in the mid-eighties. On Sabbath, March 16, 1985, Elder Newman presented Pastor John Wright to the congregation. This was the dawn of a new era for Southwest. It was the first time in its history that a full-time, conference pastor had been assigned to the church.
The responsibility fell on Elder Wright to continue the vision that Elder Warren shared with the congregation in January, 1980. Early in his ministry at Southwest, Pastor Wright assessed the needs of the church and saw that a new building was a priority.
In 1986, Pastor Wright held meetings with the church members, conference officials and the builders to formulate plans for a new structure. A number of fund raising programs were organized to accumulate funds to launch the building project. Many victories were won as Elder Wright let the church forward. At his last meeting with the bank officials, he was assured that the request for financial assistance has been approved. As the final phase of the project was being planned, Elder Wright became ill. He died December 9, 1987 at the age of 70. His death created a great void at Southwest. He brought a love ministry to the church that will never be forgotten.
Elder Joshua I. Broomfield began his ministry at Southwest in January, 1988. Dr. William Niles of the Allegheny East Conference Committee introduced him to the congregation on Sabbath, January 2nd. Pastor Broomfield accepted the challenge to continue the building project.
After eight years, Elder Warren’s dream would finally become a reality. The ground breaking service was held April 24, 1988. The membership moved temporarily to the Calvary United Methodist Church on 48th Street for worship until the completion of the construction project.
Spiritual and Social Renewal 1990-1997
“…Inasmuch as ye have done it to the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
As the church entered the final decade of the 20th century, the results of its sacrifice, faith, and labor was evident. Southwest ushered in 1990 with a number of ceremonies to celebrate the completion of the new church building. The formal celebration services began February 24, 1990 with Elder Warren as the speaker.
The celebrations continued from Sabbath, March 3rd through Sabbath, March 31st, with guest speakers and special music. The official ribbon cutting service on April 1, 1990 marked a pivotal point in Southwest’s history. Elder Alvin Kibble, President of the Allegheny East Conference was the guest speaker.
In September 1991, Elder Broomfield was reassigned to the Prentiss Park SDA Church in Portsmouth, VA. Led and guided by the Holy Spirit, under the leadership of Elder Broomfield, the Southwest members once again proved that with God all things are possible. He left a legacy of memories at Southwest which includes the completion of the construction program.
After Elder Broomfield’s departure, Elder Paul Anderson, a community-oriented pastor, was assigned to Southwest. During his brief tenure, Pastor Anderson focused on outreach programs. Community activism and baptisms characterized his ministry. Community interests were addressed through neighborhood and protest marches against policy brutality and excessive use of violence.
At the end of his tenure in October, 1992, Pastor Anderson joined the pastoral staff at Sligo SDA Church in Tacoma Park, MD. On January 27, 1996, he was commissioned Lieutenant Paul S. Anderson, Chaplain, US Navy.
After serving the Allegheny Conference and the Allegheny East Conference for 39 consecutive years, Pastor Paul Cantrell, Jr. was called out of retirement in the fall of 1992 to serve as interim pastor of Southwest. Although his tenure at Southwest only lasted a few months, Pastor Cantrell’s ministry impacted functionally on the church membership.
Pastor Mark A. McCleary, a man of action, arrived at Southwest in December, 1992. With his arrival came a mission of spiritual renewal and community-based ministry. The church became conscious of its possibility for development and growth in the area of community service. Southwest became actively involved in community-based programs such as:
Community Services * Adventist Men * Health and Temperance
Prison Ministry * Pathfinders * Bible Workers * Women’s Ministry
Prison Ministry * Pathfinders * Bible Workers * Women’s Ministry
These programs made a significant impact on the Southwest Philadelphia Community. The Soup Kitchen, operated by the Community Services Department, provided clothing and food baskets every two weeks for community residents. In addition to the Food Program at the church, a monthly shelter program was launched for shelter residents at the Life Center of Delaware County located at 63rd and Market Streets. The department also worked with Neighbors for a Better Community (NBC) to sponsor programs for youth in the community.
Pastor McCleary led Southwest in a period that was seen as the growth spurt of “Renewal Emphasis.” His initiative set the “Renewal Emphasis” process in motion at Southwest. His encouragement gave the congregation the confidence to work towards spiritual and social renewal. This initiative led to an active participation in the Stewardship 2000 program, the Community Revitalization program and the Neighbors for a Better Community program.
Pastor McCleary’s approach to community-based ministry was one of cooperation with and understanding the needs of the residents in the community. The outreach programs were geared toward forging a link between the church and community, thereby the mission of Southwest.
Southwest made a commitment under the Community Revitalization Program to purchase and renovate the vacant buildings in the community. This program involved the church and community working together to address social issues in the community. On January 31, 1997, settlement was made for the first building acquired under this program. The building is located at 1225 S. 58th Street.
The church sees itself as a part of the community of members along with Neighbors for a Better Community (NBC), to meet to exchange views reflecting community interests and problems and to make plans to improve the neighborhood. The Community Services Department in collaboration with NBC sponsored two community events: a 4th of July Block Party and a Health Fair for the first Community Emphasis Day of 1997.
Another church program meeting a specific need is the Southwest Prison Ministry Program. Since the 1980s, this program has focused on making tangible connections with the incarcerated by introducing them to Jesus Christ. In 1987, the founder of the Prison Ministry Program, Alice Humphrey, was honored and presented a plaque by the Delaware Valley Prison Ministry Team during a Prison Ministry Day at Southwest. The Southwest Prison Ministry Team continues to reach behind the prison walls with messages of hope and salvation.
The Southwest Adventist Youth Society (AYS) also made contributions to the community-based ministry.
In 1996, Pastor McCleary invited Dr. Roland Hill, originator of Stewardship 2000, to introduce the program to Southwest. This program looks at Stewardship in a holistic way. Since its introduction, there has been an increase in “giving” by the church members. Additionally, Pastor McCleary encouraged the members to aim at becoming “debt-free.”
Southwest reached another milestone in July, 1996 when it celebrated its 25th anniversary. It is noteworthy that Pastor McCleary, who was the Youth Speaker at the first tent effort conducted by the infant Southwest church in 1972, shared this 25th anniversary milestone as incumbent pastor of a full-fledged Southwest.
The lower auditorium of the church suffered significant damage during torrential rains in September, 1996. Due in part to this tragedy, the growth of the membership impressed the leaders to propose a major renovation of the building.
Under Pastor McCleary’s leadership, the church planned a number of future projects: a Day Care Center, an Adult Literacy program, Computer Training, After-School Tutorial programs and Disaster Relief Training.
Pastor McCleary was reassigned to the First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Washington, DC in 2001 and was unable to see these programs to fruition.
Additional significant successes credited to Pastor McCleary:
1993 Southwest Adelphi, Inc., a non-profit CDC was organized in
1999 Abundant Life was organized as a Church Plant on
2000 United Missionary was organized in Delaware County in
2001 Overbrook Church Plant was organized in the Overbook Park
section of Philadelphia in January.
2002 1st class of graduates from the computer skills class sponsored
by Southwest Adelphi, Inc. in April.
Pastor George E. Jackson accepted the mantle to minister to the Southwest congregation and community from August, 2001 to February, 2009. Points of emphasis in his ministry included:
Evangelism-------------Prophetic seminars, bible schools, and revivals
Finances---------------Church Budget; savings; financial stability
Facility Beautification---Quality maintenance of the Church building
and the surrounding property
and the surrounding property
Pastor Jackson’s leadership at Southwest ended with the appointment of Pastor Jackson Doggette, Jr., Esq. as the interim pastor in February, 2009. Pastor Doggette began a ministry of reconciliation and healing in the Southwest Church family and eagerly embraced the assignment with his heart and hands in the ministry. His legacy promises to be one of love, peace and harmony among the family of God.