Places of worship are very common throughout the city of Philadelphia. With what started as a congregation that met in the house of its minister, The Greater St. Luke’s Disciple Church has since grown into a staple in the Ridge Avenue community.
For almost 60 years The Greater St. Luke’s Disciple Church has been serving the local community although the church itself has been forced to relocate twice due to the increase in memberships.
“After the growing we had to move to find a larger place,” explained Bishop Thomas A. Patrick of The Greater St. Luke’s Disciple Church, “So we found this place and have been here ever since.”
The church’s current location, 2124 W. Oxford St., has been the congregation’s home for over 20 years in which its current 275 members have found it to be a great place to gather. The church’s original location was at 1725 N. 25th St. followed by a move to the 25th block of Jefferson Street before landing in its current location.
When it comes to helping out the community The Greater St. Luke’s Disciple Church has been more than willing to lend a helping hand. Patrick has been leading the way to help those in need throughout the community.
“We try to be community involved and do whatever we possibly can do to help the community,” explained Patrick.
The current economy has played an important role in the effect the church has had on the community.
“The last 10 years we used to serve the community with food and stuff like that,” said Patrick.
Although the church has seen a decline in funding for community outreach, the congregation was able to take advantage of their additional space at their location and opened a daycare operation. There are currently over 20 children enrolled in the daycare program, but the church has enough room for 40 children daily.
The daycare helps out local families in need for quality daycare for children while their parents are out trying to make end meet. Tianna Hall had great things to say about the car her child gets at the daycare center.
“My son has been [going] here since he was a baby and I really love it here,” explained Hall, “I really enjoy his social skills and they are so much better since coming here.”
The church’s daycare program is now its primary way the church supports the local community. While the church tries to continue its work with outside organizations the daycare is its constant reminder of how it is helping the surrounding area.
“It came to me the community needed my help,” said Patrick, “The only way we could do it at that time was to open up the day care.”
The daycare located inside The Greater St. Luke’s Disciple Church has now been in operation will be celebrating its 11th year of operation and continues to help out those in need. Through hard work and dedication by Patrick and his staff have created a staple in the community.
“I can tell he is learning,” explained Hall about her son’s improved learning, “He comes home with something new every day.”
Even though the government has limited the funding that churches nationwide have received as of late, the The Great St. Luke’s Disciple Church still finds ways to reach out past their own community. The use of missionaries and connections through other church organizations both on the national and international level have helped spread the congregation’s message throughout the community.
“We serve food at certain times, [put together] Christmas baskets, give to the senior citizens in the congregation,” said Patrick, “Sometimes we reach out because we have people in the congregation that have friends that need our help and we help them from time to time.”
As explained by Patrick, when it comes to helping out the local community sometimes the decision of helping someone in need comes down to your definition of right or wrong.
“Its kind of hard to help sometimes because people don’t want to see the right thing, they want to see what they want to see,” explained Patrick.
As the church continues to grow, a new plan for its future has now presented itself. The church has been working on building a new location right next door to its current location and hopes to be finished with the construction by the summer time.
The new church location will have the capacity to seat 750 people, which is a major increase in size compared to the current location. The move will help the church get its needed handicapped capabilities and will give the congregation a more modern feel.
There are many people in the Ridge Avenue community that have been impacted by Patrick and the works of his church. Through the daycare and other community outreaches the church hopes to expand in both memberships and community standing in years to come.