HISTORY OF GREATER FAITH BAPTIST CHURCH
In October 1994, under the covering and leading of the Holy Spirit, Reverend Larry L. Marcus organized Greater Faith Baptist Church. There was a need for a place to study Scripture, pray and seek further guidance from the Holy Spirit. Reverend Dr. J. Wendell Mapson, Jr., Pastor, Monumental Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, officers and members opened their doors to us.
In November 1994, the Holy Spirit open a door for Greater Faith to hold her first official worship service at the New Bethlehem Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Reverend Dr. Robert Scott Jones, Pastor. The Sunday service at New Bethlehem Baptist Church began at 2:00pm Pastor Marcus’ first sermon was preached from First John 3:1-5 and the subject was “God’s Unfinished Business.” At the conclusion of the message, the invitation was extended and two hundred and twenty seven persons came on Christian experience. However only the Officers and Ministry Leaders received the “Right hand of fellowship.” The following Sunday, the remaining members received the “Right Hand of fellowship.”
In December 1994, the Holy Spirit opened another door for Greater Faith. The Pastor, officers, and members of the West Philadelphia Seventh Day Adventist Church at 46th and Haverford Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania privileged Greater Faith to worship on Sundays at 11:00am. Greater Faith was blessed to utilize the sanctuary and facilities for four and a half years. During the four and a half years, we continued having prayer service and Bible study at the Monumental Baptist Church on Tuesday nights.
While holding services at the West Philadelphia Seventh Day Adventist Church, several buildings were considered for purchasing and renovation. After prayerfully reviewing the costs of the buildings and renovation estimates, the Holy Spirit gave Pastor Marcus a vision for a new church edifice. Pastor Marcus had a rendering drawn of the vision the Holy Spirit had revealed to him, and once the rendering was complete, the unveiling was presented to the congregation. The congregation unanimously agreed to build a new edifice for the Lord.
The Holy Spirit gave us favor with pastors, family, friends, Mrs. Jannie L. Blackwell, Councilwoman, City of Philadelphia and staff, Mrs. Elsie Wise, President, West Powelton Concerned Community Council, Mr. John Coates, Director, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.
In November 1997, under the leadership of Pastor Marcus, Greater Faith was blessed to purchase land to build an edifice unto the Lord. At the historic groundbreaking ceremony, Reverend David Weeks, Jr., President, The Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity said, “You have earned the right to call yourself ‘Greater Faith’. In my travels around the country I have never witnessed a Church that has come this far, this fast. You deserve to call yourselves “Greater Faith.”
Also present at this occasion were a number of clergy and other representatives: Rev. Roland H. Anderson, Rev. Presidee Barrett, Rev. Daniel Black, Dr. Marvin L. Caldwell, Rev. Albert G. Davis, Jr., Rev. Mary L. Franks, Rev. J. A. Jones, Rev. Dr. J. Wendell Mapson, Jr., Rev. Harry Moore, Sr., Dr. Lee Edward Peace, Rev. Winston P. Pierre, Rev. Benjamin F. Powell, Rev. George Scott, Jr., Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Mr. John U. Coates, Mrs. Elsie Wise, and a multitude of Greater Faith parishioners, members from other churches, family and friends. The ceremony started with prayer and an opening hymn “The Solid Rock.”
The preacher for occasion was Rev. Dr. J. Wendell Mapson, Jr., Pastor, Monumental Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Mapson delivered an encouraging message of hope and praise. The main focus of the message was: Joshua and the children of Israel crossing the Jordan River.
In Dr. Mapson’s message there were three summarizing points:
● He admonished us, as with Joshua and his followers, to Camp before we Cross. Many times people want to cross before they camp. But it is in the camp where you get fired up and inspired to do the will of God.
● “…And they took up the Ark of the Covenant, and went before the people” (Joshua 3:6).
Like Joshua, and the Children of Israel, we too must symbolically place the “Ark of the
Covenant” before us. This indicates that it is the presence of God which guides and directs us.
● He also said, we are not here through any ingenuity of our own, we are here because it is the
will of God. We must keep in mind that glory and praise is due to God.
At the conclusion of the message, Rev. Benjamin F. Powell, Pastor, Fifty Ninth Street Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, gave a recital. The first group to participate in the actual groundbreaking was: Pastor Larry L. Marcus, Deacon James McLean, Chairman-Deacons’ Fellowship. Trustee Reetha D. Wright, Chairperson-Trustees’ Fellowship, Rev. J. A. Jones, Pastor First Nazarene Baptist Church, Camden, NJ and Dr. J. Wendell Mapson, Jr., Pastor, Monumental Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In July 1998, construction of the new edifice began and was completed on Friday, June 4, 1999. After the edifice was completed, Pastors Marcus, J.A. Jones, Albert G. Davis, Jr., James Moore, Sr., W.P. Pierre, and Wayne Antoine, prayed and anointed the sanctuary, furniture, doors, and the fellowship hall prior to the first day of worship service.
On Sunday, June 6, 1999 at 10:00am, the saints of God marched into the new sanctuary. The processional was preceded by the Holy Bible, which was carried on a handmade oak cart into the sanctuary. Before the saints entered the sanctuary, the officers, the choir, the musicians, the ushers, and members, and friends were anointed. Upon entering the sanctuary, the saints presented “First Fruit Offerings” unto the Lord. After being seated, the first “Call to Worship” was declared by Pastor Marcus. Through giving, praise, and worship, we say, to God be the glory for the great and marvelous things He has done!