Church of the Week
Church of the Week: Tenth Memorial Baptist ministering beyond church walls
Members of Tenth Memorial say that at their church, they not only get spiritually ministered to but receive holistic ministry — meaning the church is concerned not just about their souls but about their well-being.
In 1937, a unanimous decision was made to call Rev. Allen T. Dixon of Daytona Beach, Fla., who had preached a two-week revival at Tenth Memorial. He and his wife came to Philadelphia in October 1938 and served until his death in 1970.
It was in 1974 that Rev. William B. Moore became the pastor.
“I inherited a wonderful church from the previous pastor,” Moore said. “It’s been a wonderful relationship since that time, it’s been a wonderful journey.”
Asked to describe his church, Moore said Tenth Memorial was a friendly, family-oriented church that cared about developing its people, their lives and their relationships with Jesus Christ.
“It’s also concerned about the outside. I think the people believe as I do, that God strategically places pastors and churches where he desires them to be for a purpose and we believe that the church is not only here for the people who are members but also for the community,” he said.
“The church has an obligation to be the church beyond the walls.”
One way the church tries to fill this role is by providing affordable housing to seniors, “so that they could live out their senior years in a safe, wholesome, clean environment,” Moore said.
“We’ve also done housing around the community because we believe that the one thing that stabilizes the community is home ownership.”
The church also purchased and renovated a row home for those who might need low-income housing to utilize at “far below market value.”
Then there’s the partnership with local schools and the scholarship ministry for students who are members of the church.
“We do support youngsters to a substantial degree. Everybody gets a cash grant but for academic excellence, we have a scholarship grant of about $4,000 over the youngster’s career, as long as they are doing well, and we also have other assistance available to them.”
Moore is also a member of a non-profit organization that provides financial donations to pay for books for students.
“I would say that this is a generational church. We affirm the seniors, we affirm young adults, young people, and children; we have a children’s church and believe in giving children a worshipful atmosphere on their level, so we have caring adults that help them,” he said.
“We believe not only in a secular education but a spiritual education.”
Moore described the church’s education and ministry to the youth as an interactive one in which children aren’t sat down and compelled to listen to adults as they teach but are engaged in the teachings and lessons taught.
First lady Pauline M. Moore said Tenth Memorial has been a blessing.
“We came from North Carolina in 1974 and we have moved the church to become a part of the community in which it is located. I believe when you serve in a community, the community needs to know that you are there, and the community should be better because you are there,” said Moore.
This emphasis on service and ministry was evident throughout the church.
Charles Horton has been a member of Tenth Memorial for some 40 years and said that throughout that time the church has never changed from the caring, friendly place it was when he first joined.
“We have hospitality ministries who are always there to greet members and one of the things I always noticed was that, whether you are a deacon, a minister or a trustee, you are known by your first name here. This is the type of atmosphere that we have here,” said Horton.
Barbara Williams directs the Praise Dance Ministry and said that praise dancing isn’t performance but praise through the vehicle of dance.
“It’s a very friendly, spiritual, uplifting church. I have been a member since high school,” said Williams.
Williams said it is the people, the Bible study and the opportunity to worship God through prayer, Bible study, song and dance ministry.
His parents started James Cauley attending Tenth Memorial 62 years ago, and he has been attending ever since, even serving as minister of music.
“The people here are loving, have friendly spirits and love the Lord and tend to show enthusiasm in worship,” said Cauley.
One of the church’s outreach ministries was to pray for a neighborhood that, at one time, was plagued by violence.
“We have a group of men that go out every Saturday, Men in Christ, and pray on corners. It started when the violence was kind of rampant in North Philly and we would go to certain spots and just pray, and people were being saved and blessed by that,” he said.
The church would also go to known drug houses and pray outside their doors. Today, Moore said, some of those who operated those drug houses have changed their lives and actively participate in church ministry to help others.
Helping others is an important aspect of Tenth Memorial, which not only provides low-cost housing for seniors and those in need and feeding programs for those who need help but also hosts substance abuse meetings and supportive services for those threatened by domestic abuse through its Balm in Gilead, Abuse Prevention/Intervention Ministry.
Whether the abuse is mental, physical or emotional, the Balm in Gilead Ministry at Tenth Memorial Baptist makes itself available to victims in need of aid and support.
Rev. Suzanne Harmon-Carn spent more than 50 years as a member of the church. Her parents joined in the 1940s and church attendance was a requirement for their children, and Harmon-Carn has no regrets about it.
“The spirit of God is definitely here. The Tenth Memorial is the kind that evokes God’s presence and we are the kind of church that always serves the community at large,” she said.
Harmon-Carn said that, under Moore’s spiritual guidance, Tenth Memorial is involved in every aspect of the community.
“We are entrenched in our ministries collectively and we work together,” said Harmon-Carn.