Serving the least, the last and the lost. This desire is what undergirds the ministry focus of Pastor Alonzo Johnson and Believers Bible Fellowship to the predominately African American neighborhood of Logan, located in Northwest Philadelphia.
This community has a long and fascinating history.
The neighborhood was named for James Logan, William Penn’s secretary. Logan was also a mayor of Philadelphia and a slave owner. His plantation, Stenton, according to Laura C. Keim, curator at Stenton, “was a 511-acre plantation, including much of the present-day Logan neighborhood.” Enslavement existed at the family home from approximately 1720-1776. The James Logan family home Stenton, which is now a museum, is walking distance from the hub of Johnson’s outreach at James Logan Elementary School; located within the former plantation’s boundaries.
Though separated by 245 years of history, the least and the last can be used to describe not only the first African residents of Logan, but the current ones as well.
Elkins Park, where Believers is located, and Logan are three short miles apart. However, the two communities exist in different worlds. The average household income for Elkins Park is $113,190 compared to Logan’s $47,757. This is well below Philadelphia’s average household income of $68,379. Although once middle to upper class, the neighborhood now has many challenges.
This is why Pastor Alonzo Johnson and Bible Believers Fellowship have intentionally ministered in Logan for close to three years.
“We chose the Logan community because of our desire to serve the least, the last and the lost. That desire led us to serve the James Logan Elementary School by hosting Dad and Me nights. This ministry consisted of us asking the students at James Logan Elementary School to invite their fathers or a significant man in their lives to school and our church would serve dinner and host a game night for the men and their children in the gym of the school,” said Johnson.
Like most ministries, Believers outreach was stymied by the pandemic, prohibiting them from continuing in-person Dad and Me nights. Upon this realization, the church prayed and the Lord provided a way for the church to begin a food distribution ministry from the James Logan Elementary School yard in collaboration with the Community School Coordinator, Collette Butler and Richard Washington who leads a youth program at the school.
Through this partnership, Believers was able to join God in what He was already doing in this community.
The church serves 50-60 families bi-weekly through their food distribution and over 100 men through their Dad and Me nights.
Johnson is grateful for his partnership with Butler and Washington who are well connected within the community. They have introduced Believers to many families, resulting in establishing credibility and becoming known as “the church that serves the community through Dad and Me nights and food distribution and neighborhood clean-up.”
Through outreach, which includes prayer, information about the church and Christian literature in each food box, Believer’s online services have grown to 80 families who join virtual service weekly. Midweek services, which include prayer meeting and Bible study have grown as well. New members have been added to the congregation.
“Our desire is to be the Good News to as many people as possible,” says Johnson. “Our desire is Habakkuk 2:14, ‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters covers the sea.’”
Fourteen million people in PA/SJ don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. How you being the Good News to your community?