Looking back over our 136 years…
Doing Ministry in the New Millennium 1994 – Present
Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church is a faith community of over 15,000 members committed to using their collective resources to strengthen families and communities. The first African-American Baptist church in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Enon’s impact is felt beyond the walls of its physical structures, spilling into the local community, throughout the city of Philadelphia and reaching across the globe to Africa.
Under the leadership of its current Senior Pastor, Reverend Dr. Alyn E. Waller, Enon is proud to have contributed over $1 million to organizations, including the UNCF, which are meeting critical needs. In Dr. Waller’s words, “Enon is unapologetically youth-oriented.” So, elementary school students in Germantown seldom need to worry about being ready to start the school year because the church provides every student in need with a backpack full of school supplies annually. Once Enon’s students are ready to pursue a postsecondary education, they have the opportunity to earn college scholarships, including a number of full four-year scholarships. Enon’s commitment does not stop with the provision of financial resources. The church’s members serve others by participating in 98 ministries. For example, the church’s competitive athletics program provides a haven for roughly 600 young people. More than 100 volunteer coaches, mentors, and chaperones help the children develop life skills and provide activities, designed to insulate them from the negative and influences that plague urban youth. Notably, several of Enon’s football teams and Enon’s cheerleading squad earned the opportunity to participate in the Disney Pop Warner 2012 National Championships in Orlando, Florida.
When a local high school’s library was in such disrepair that it could no longer serve students, Dr. Waller spearheaded a campaign to refurbish the library using the human capital of the church’s membership. Countless Enon members provide the community with a wide range of other free services, including tutoring, food and clothes distribution, counseling, and transportation. The church’s legal ministry hosts free legal clinics, its medical professionals sponsor health fairs, its financial ministry helps the community get their business affairs in order, and members enrich the lives of the elderly, the infirm, and the incarcerated by regularly visiting and encouraging those in nursing homes, hospitals, and prisons.
The church is also committed to the global community and has supplied clean water to communities in Kenya, provided food for children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Uganda, and supported programs to combat drugs, gangs, and human trafficking in Cape Town, South Africa. Each year, hundreds of Enon members self-fund missions trips to sites in the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa.
The members of Enon generously support Dr. Waller’s work as an evangelist and artist, as well as the First Lady’s advocacy for victims of human trafficking. They demonstrate wonderfully how God’s love can greatly impact a community as one collective effort.
Progressive Ministry in Changing Times 1950-1974
On Easter Sunday in April, 1950, Reverend William B. Toland preached his first sermon as Pastor of Enon. Under his spiritual guidance and dynamic leadership, membership continued to increase, several auxiliaries were organized, a Moeller organ was installed, central air conditioning for the main sanctuary was acquired, and a wing to the Church with approximately twenty rooms and a new kitchen were added. In 1950, Reverend Rena Thompson became the first female preacher and associate pastor at Enon. In 1952, Reverend Toland established the Negro Achievement Program to celebrate the contributions of African-Americans to American society and to inspire African-American adult and youth achievement. In the words of Reverend Toland, his goal was that “each Negro in true painstaking steps walking in his own field keeps ever plodding until he arrives to a place of distinction and glorifies his God who made him, his nation that sustains him and his race of which he is a part.” In response to the turbulent conditions in the mid 1960s, Reverend Toland changed the focus of the Negro Achievement Program in 1966 from one of achievement to one of togetherness of all Americans. The program included art exhibits, music, talent programs, and multicultural guests and speakers. After the death of Reverend Toland on April 4, 1974, Reverend Noah Carter served as Interim Pastor, and the Church continued to prosper.
The Beginning of a Rich Legacy 1876-1912
In 1875, Reverend J.D. Brooks presided over a Sunday School class in a frame building that was then known as 5 West Coulter Street. In August of 1875, the small group of Christians convened a council of representatives from area churches to explore the feasibility of organizing a Baptist church at the site. After prayerful consideration, on August 26, 1876, the council recommended that the group move forward with their plan to become an organized church. On September 21, 1876, Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church was recognized by the council at a public service and, with seven members, became the first African-American Baptist Church in the Germantown section of Philadelphia and the fifty-fifth African-American church in Philadelphia. Named for the place where people came to be baptized by John the Baptist, for more than a century Enon has been guided by its foundational mission of reaching people for the cause of Christ.
Enon’s founder, Reverend James D. Brooks, was called as the Church’s first Pastor on November 15, 1876. The cornerstone for Enon’s current West location, 230 West Coulter Street, was laid in May, 1879, and the debt on the adjacent Missionary Building was paid in 1889. Reverend Brooks served as Pastor of Enon from 1876 until 1905 and was succeeded by Reverend D’Augustine Reid. Reverend Reid served as Pastor from 1905 until 1911, during which time the Church received its charter.
Continuing A Strong Tradition 1975-1994
In July 1975, Reverend Gordon S. Houston, Sr. accepted the call to serve as Enon’s Pastor. Under his leadership, the missionary offering was changed to the consecration offering and the Helping Hand auxiliary was formed. Reverend Houston served until July 1978, after which Reverend Cornelius Parker served the Church well as Interim Pastor until 1979.
In 1979, Reverend Willard M. Lamb accepted the call to the pastorate and established a Monday evening Bible study, the Saturday Institute of Instruction, and Unity Day (combined Men’s and Women’s Day). Reverend Lamb retired on December 31, 1989. Reverend Vernel McDonald served as Interim Pastor with great leadership until the Reverend Robert F. Mennefee was called to the pastorate in February 1991.
Under Reverend Mennefee’s pastorate, there were many visible changes at Enon. Rooms were repainted, the Pastor’s Study was renovated, the lower Church was refurbished and air-conditioned, and new groups, such as The Drama Guild, were formed. Reverend Mennefee resigned on December 15, 1991. Reverend Charles E. West served Enon Tabernacle well and with great leadership as Pulpit Supplier until March 1993. As the Pulpit Committee continued its search for a Pastor, Reverend Joseph Williams was elected as Interim Pastor and served from April 1993 until June 1994.
Building a Solid Foundation 1949-1912
Reverend J.C. Brown succeeded Reverend Jemison and served as Pastor of Enon from 1912 through 1917. During Reverend Jemison’s administration, the old Church was demolished, and a new edifice was built. Reverend Frank B. Mitchell, Sr. was called to serve as Enon’s fifth pastor on October 17, 1917 and served until his passing on January 19, 1932. During his pastorate, the balcony was built, and a pipe organ was installed.
Reverend Clarence C. Lockett ably supplied the pulpit after the passing of Reverend Mitchell until 1933, when Reverend Adolphus Hobbs was installed as Pastor. Under Reverend Hobbs’ leadership, membership increased rapidly, and the Church was enlarged and remodeled. After the death of Reverend Hobbs in 1948, Reverend D. Wills served as Supply Pastor until Reverend William B. Toland accepted the call in October 1949.