On Sunday, September 11, 2022, I was invited to preach at Taylor Tabernacle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to help celebrate the 13th Pastoral Anniversary of Pastor Jonathan Ford and the Ford Family. Despite the rain, we had a tremendous time praising God and demonstrating our appreciation to a pastor and family that has given so much to this church and community. For example, Pastor Ford led the church in establishing a community technology and resource center that provides computer classes and use for the neighborhood. The community places high value on this computer lab, in part because the library in this neighborhood closed years ago. People had no place to gain computer access and this is where Taylor Tabernacle stepped in. In addition to the computer lab, First Lady N’Jameh Ford (who is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated) launched a literary program which provides books and reading classes to children and adults. She places emphasis upon strengthening the literacy skills of the adults so that they can spend time reading with their children.
From the outside looking in, you would never know that this church of less than 100 members does such amazing ministry in this community! And as if that wasn’t enough, Taylor Tabernacle also has a community garden on their grounds. They provided a tour of their garden after worship. David and Lynn, who steward the garden in partnership with the church, proudly showed the progress that they’ve made in a very short amount of time.
Their garden lot has gone from looking like this in March 2022:
To this in September 2022:
Isn’t that amazing! It just confirms my earnest belief that when church’s utilize an asset-based community development model that honors the gifts that are already present in the congregation/community and uses that as the starting point, you can see inspiring change in a short amount of time.
After such a spirit-filled worship service and tour of the garden, it was time to eat. And you know – if Black churches don’t do nothing else, we’re going to eat after special occasion services. 🙂
I was so grateful to see that some of the food that was included in our meals came from produce grown at Taylor’s garden and the vegetable garden at Bethel AME Church in Ardmore, Pennsylvania where Rev. Carolyn Cavaness is pastor. It made the food taste even better to me when I realized that the squash, okra, carrots, cucumbers and more that was on my plate came from the gardens that are part of our Network.
Pastor Cavaness surprised us by popping up after worship to join in the celebration. Her worship service ended early enough for us to join us for the meal and fellowship. Thankfully, she did not come alone. In addition to bringing her wonderful ministry intern from Palmer Theological Seminary, she also brought two of her soon-to-be world famous 10-egg pound cakes: one for Pastor Ford and one for me. Now, I’m trying to keep an eye on my enjoyment of desserts given that I have such a sweet tooth, but when it comes to Rev. Cavaness’ 10-egg pound cake, I just can’t help myself!
This cake is so delicious. Do NOT die and go to heaven until you try this mighty woman of God’s cake. I think Jesus himself guides her hands when she puts this cake together.
On my drive back to Baltimore, I gave God thanks for such a wonderful experience in worship, gardening, and fellowship.
On Sunday, October 16, 2022, The Black Church Food Security Network is partnering with Taylor Tabernacle to host a Soil To Sanctuary Market on their grounds. We’ll have Black farmers, food vendors, music and fun to celebrate all that God is doing through us as we seek to co-create Black food ecosystems around the country. Want to connect with this event? Click here to email us.
Also if your church would like to join this national movement, consider becoming a member of The Black Church Food Security Network. We are making bold moves to improve our own condition. Join us!