By Shelly Shell Williams
Germantown Church of the Brethren, 6611 Germantown Avenue, has always seen the need to ensure that the community had access to food, education, resources, events that offer a haven for youth. The congregation, over the years, has served the Germantown/Mt Airy, W/E Oaklane communities, and beyond with a myriad of family-focused and youth educational programs. The congregation cited in Ron Sider’s study and book: “Churches That Make A Difference.”
We’ve partnered with Germantown Church of The Brethren for many outreach initiatives, from toy giveaways, food, and family fun nights to entrepreneurial training for the past nine years. Last year, like no other time, we saw an increase in the community’s need, serving over 600 families during tough economic times, primarily due to the pandemic.
I want to thank Pastor Richard Kyerematen, aka Pastor Richard, senior Pastor of Germantown Church of The Brethren, for his ongoing support. I look forward to celebrating the 300th Anniversary, the oldest surviving Brethren congregation in the world established in 1723.
Shelly Shell: How would you describe your style of ministry?
Pastor Richard: Another seemingly simple question calling for a straightforward answer. Not so? You know by now, through some of our joint ministry projects, I enjoy making simple things “complicated” and simplifying complicated things.
On a more serious note, this is also another loaded question. Let me attempt to break it down. The two main words, “style” and “ministry,” have undercurrents and undertones. But both words, though, have established underpinnings.
When you talk about style, most people refer to personality types and traits. With ministry, they are referring to theological and, for that matter, historical persuasions.
There are many personality types of assessments out there. For the sake of this interview let me categorize them as follows especially in relation to leadership: intuitive/emotional/spontaneous/extrovert/introvert/dialectic/dichotomous/ manager/boss
You will agree with me that we are all born with some of these ingrained personality traits but also through the course of our lives our personalities metamorphosizes.
So what is my style? I will say it’s evolving, and I see God shaping me over the years to best handle ministry changes and challenges. People sometimes wonder how I feel comfortable with all kinds of people in ministry. I will say it’s all because of God’s grace working through my personality.
With ministry, I will say people want to know what theological box you fit in. Are you Catholic, Mainline, Evangelical, Charismatic, Pentecostal, Kingdom Centered – the list keeps growing.
All these “boxes”/movements that gave birth to denominations have historic trails, and if people took a little time to understand the trials, the Body of Christ wouldn’t be as divided as it’s today.
I hate being put in a box, but I will conclude that I am Biblical, Theological, “Full Gospel.” I guess ECLECTIC
Shelly Shell: You are approaching your 300th Church Anniversary, wow 300 years, you lived a long life. What are your plans to celebrate G.C.O.B.’s 300th year in ministry?
Pastor Richard: Yes, 300 years ooooooh as they will say in Ghana.
It may be of interest to you to know that that G.C.O.B. shares the unique honor with a very few 200+ years old congregations in the world where worship still occurs at their original birthplaces.
It’s is a significant milestone. The Church of the Brethren, in general, “shy” away from publicity, promotion, and fanfare. In our own “quiet” way, though, we will celebrate the Glory of God for his faithfulness. We plan to have a series of musical concerts, seminars, special services with a culminating worship service in the late summer of 2023.
Shelly Shell: How would you describe Germantown Church of the Brethren?
Pastor Richard: I will refer readers to our website: gcob1723.com. Our current tagline says we are: “A people of Peace, A Place of Worship.” I will add we are an inviting, Christ-Centered, Community Engaging Congregation.
Shelly Shell: Who are some of your community partners?
Pastor Richard: I will say all our neighbors are our partners, and I mean it. All those who seek the betterment of our community are our partners. I want to single out though my good friend Bill Simon – a community leader who has kept me in the loop all these years; Dr. Tom Mosca who helps run all our youth educational initiatives; Mr. Andrew Lofton; Sherri Johnson of Supreme Gospel Entertainment who has helped us tremendously to have a presence on social media and not forgetting you Shelly Shell.
Shelly Shell: There seems to be a great falling of the Church; what do you think we can do to get people back into the Church?
Pastor Richard: Let me say that there has always been a falling off/away. However, it was masked by the competitive advantage the Church enjoyed by virtue of its proliferation and it being the strongest hub in many communities.
But with the ascendancy and subsequent virulent advocacy of the separation between Church and State; the rise of many “non-profit” groups/associations; the growth of sports and other recreational activities; the surge of the social media “beast” and other “competitors”; the Church has been caught flat-footed.
Many Churches/congregations are trying their best to re-invent themselves to be relevant in today’s world. They have to be applauded. I would want to caution the CHURCH, though, that our focus should not be on getting people back to Church but to God. When that happens, then our churches will be “alive” again
The Scripture still holds true: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His vineyard” Luke 10:2
Shelly Shell: You have a passion for Music and the arts; how do you plan to expand the music ministry?
Pastor Richard: Please don’t talk about Music. You know too well my passion for it. Let me clarify, though, that my passion is really for WORSHIP and Music, which in my estimation, is a major avenue through which we worship.
You are aware of the digital studio in the Church operated by Dr. Tom Mosca. A few years back, we named the studio, STUDIO 6611. After our just-ended annual Gospel Christmas Concert with virtuoso performances by some youth, we birthed the vision of having periodic music concerts to be broadcast live focusing on youth with talent. Supreme Gospel Entertainment and Mr. Andrew Lofton are helping us in this regard
Shelly Shell: Reading and education are a key focus for G.C.O.B.; what types of programs do you offer?
Pastor Richard: For our reading program “R.I.S.E.,” readers can always visit: www.risereadingcenter.com. To sign up, they can email email@example.com.
We have also initiated an S.A.T. readiness program called A.C.E. S.A.T. (Achieving Competitive Excellence). Interested parents/guardians can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shelly Shell: Lafiya Family Services is one of the programs you offer; what type of resources does it offer the community?
Pastor Richard: Actually, Lafiya Family Services Center (L.F.S.C.) and Integrated Community Services (I.C.S.) are the umbrella agencies for all our community initiatives; educational, counseling, and community resources (mobilization and referrals)
Shelly Shell: How can people get involved or worship with G.C.O.B.?
Pastor Richard: Join us every: SUNDAY, God Permitting, FOR WORSHIP @ 11:00 in person; 11:05 online on http://www.gcob1723 (Watch Live); facebook/gcob1723; youtube.gcob1723tv; THURSDAY FOR OUR POWER HOUR TELE PRAYER SERVICE
Dial-in: (202) 926 1072