During the year 1982, a few events caused major changes in their individual industries that still have a big impact today. The popular sci-fi movie “ET the Extra-Terrestrial” debuted in June of that year. It was one of the first examples of Steven Spielberg directing a feature film. It went on to win four Academy Awards and five other nominations, setting a new standard for visual effects in Hollywood. That same year, Michael Jackson released his breakthrough album “Thriller,” which is not only held in high esteem as one of the greatest albums of all time, but which also held sales records for decades. scrapbooks. Many believe this cemented his position as the King of Pop.
But that same year, in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, a church was established, a church that grew from less than 100 members to a ministry that serves an entire community and the world at large. The New Covenant Church of Philadelphia is born.
The church was founded by Dr. C. Milton Grannum and his wife Hyacinth on November 21, 1982. At its inception, as Dr. Grannum pursued “a new thing”, working in God’s vision for a church that served really the people around. After 40 years of location changes and leadership transitions, the church’s core values have remained constant. They live in the vision statement: “To please God by touching Philadelphia and beyond.”
“When you really love people, you give,” said Pastor Bob Oliver, executive pastor of New Covenant. “We give of ourselves, we donate our time and we teach so that people’s lives are transformed.
Pastor Oliver was appointed senior pastor in 2018, serving as both senior pastor and general manager of the New Covenant Church. Under his tutelage, the church has maintained its level of excellence, influence and expansion.
Oliver heads an operation that houses around 50 separate ministries under one roof, and outside the main sanctuary you can find a bustling campus featuring 56-unit affordable seniors’ housing.
New Covenant devotes the entire month of November to celebrating its four decades of service. Each Sunday, a special guest pastor is invited to deliver the word to the congregation. Today gospel superstar Jonathan Nelson will headline an anniversary concert, but before that New Covenant hosted a celebration of his own legacy as well as the legacy of black gospel music with a special hymn-centric service on Saturday, November 12.
Hymns are the basis of black gospel music. The blueprint, the springboards for today’s gospel stars. To ensure the church was doing justice to the ancestral legacy, they brought in world-renowned organist Evelyn Simpson Cureton and one of gospel music’s top voices and former America’s Got Talent contestant, Callie Day.
Evelyn Simpson Cureton performed a rendition of “To God Be the Glory”. As her fingers cascaded over the keys of the pipe organ, the congregation was mystified by her talent, her gift, to the point that many people had looks of pure astonishment that their masks couldn’t even hide.
“There’s a certain message in a song like ‘A Charge to Keep I Have’ that’s lost in gospel music today,” Day said before it was her turn to win the souls of the stage. “I love hymns. I was raised with them, and when you close your eyes and put your pain or loss into singing it, that’s when you feel it. It is an incredible grace.
Day explained that she was excited to participate in an anthem-specific event, not only because her current church doesn’t sing them often, but because she saw the celebration as an opportunity to connect the songs of her youth. to today’s youth.
What sets New Covenant apart is their ability to spotlight hymns one week and then host a concert with a contemporary gospel singer like Jonathan Nelson the next week. It shows that the church has a special understanding of the wide range of people it serves and does so with intention.
Yet Pastor Oliver believes the church is not blessed by what it has or how far the ministry has come, but by the lives it can save and the impact that can be made.
“The historic facade of buildings is one thing, but having the ability to serve the community around us is what makes us unique,” Oliver said. “It’s private property, but no one would know, because we treat it as if it were public. You will see children playing soccer, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters.
“Our goal is to help people live a better life here on Earth so they can have eternal life in heaven,” Oliver explained. “We are a church for all comers.”
New Covenant is located at 7500 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119. Sunday services begin at 9:30 a.m. Sunday School begins at 8:00 a.m. and can be attended in person or live on Facebook. Adult Bible Study is on Sundays at 8:00 a.m. Bible study is on Tuesdays at 7 p.m.