To Bishop Richard Franklin Norris, Mother Mary Ann Norris, Presiding Elders, Pastors, Clergy, Laity and the members of the 195th Session of the Philadelphia Annual Conference – I greet you in the joy of Jesus Christ! First Lady Ingrid and I consider ourselves to be tremendously blessed to be counted worthy to serve God’s wonderful people at The Place of Vision, the Mighty Mount Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church of Philadelphia, for this our sixth year. Our theme for this year was “We’re Thinking BIG” (Believing in God’s Greater Glory), taken from Haggai 2:9: “The Glory of this latter house will be greater than that of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” God declared in 2010 that if we believed, God would show us greater glory than we have ever experienced. We believed, and God faithfully manifested His glory in our worship and work. When God manifests His glory, God does BIG THINGS!
During this year, God did BIG things in the area of Christian Discipleship, as we focused on making every ministry of the church a teaching ministry in which members are engaged in intentional spiritual growth. Our focus on teaching inspired an empowering two day Women’s Conference for women of every denomination, and a Dance Ministry Conference at which dance ministries from across the region came together for training and inspiration. Our Bible Study continues to equip believers for ministry, and our church school is second to none. Because God is doing BIG things in discipleship, we are growing in every way.
God also did BIG things in the area of community outreach. Our Health Ministry hosted three HIV/AIDS testing events during the year and our Women’s Missionary Society continued its partnership with Action AIDS, providing needed personal items for their clients. Mount Pisgah participated in Zones of Peace, an initiative of the Religious Leaders Council of Philadelphia, in which congregations of all faiths engaged in projects that promote peace in their communities. We formalized a partnership with Mothers in Charge to spread the message of non violence, and our church was recognized as a “Zone of Peace.” Our free Tax Preparation program, a partnership with the Campaign for Working Families, prepared over 1,000 free tax returns and earned over $1 million in refunds for its clients. We continue to feed 40 to 60 hungry individuals a hot meal every week, and our education ministry provides GED training for adults and academic support for children. Because God is doing BIG things in outreach, we are a more effective community partner.
God is also enabling us to do BIG things with our worship facility. Our Thinking Big Capital Campaign enabled us to raise sufficient funds to initiate a $255,000 masonry project to restore the exterior of our church. This project will be completed in 2011.
We were saddened by the passing of one of our greatest assets, The Rev. Dr. Marguerite Handy. However, we rejoice that Rev. Handy’s connection with Christ positioned her on high in a mansion accessorized especially for her, and that her connections here on earth created lasting partnerships among those who she left to continue her work. We reiterate what we believe God is saying to her: “Well done!”
I wish to thank our Bishop for his vision and confidence in entrusting me with the awesome task of leading the phenomenal people of Mt. Pisgah. I also feel blessed to have benefitted from the wise counsel of our Presiding Elder Charles H. Lett. I give God all of the praise, for truly, God has done BIG THINGS at Mt. Pisgah!