Second Macedonia Baptist Church. The church that belongs to the community.
Second Macedonia Baptist Church had its beginning as a Bible Class. In April 1931, two adult teachers and twelve pupils came together at the home of Reverend Gentile Jones at 2547 Mutter Street to study the word of the LORD. Within five months that small group had grown significantly and the meetings were held at new and larger quarters located at Dauphin and American Streets.
A general council was called on the third Monday night in September 1931 for the purpose of establishing a church with Reverend Bell presiding. Sister Sammie Williams suggested the name, Second Macedonia Baptist Church. Reverend Jones was called as the first pastor.
The first ordained Deacon was Deacon Luther Thornton of Elberton,Georgia who immediately joined by letter. Sisters Emma Thornton, Alice Stinson Jones, Rose Stinson Stevenson Pierce, Mattie Evans, Sammie Williams, Jessie Matthews, Mamie Davis, Cannon Thornton, William Burns and Ratter Renner were among the first members to join the church.
The first officers of the new church included Deacon Luther Thornton,William Burns, Rose Stevenson as Secretary, and Alice Stinson Jones as Treasurer. The new church continued to grow and others joined the church: Sisters Zether Lee, Hattie Furlow, Pearl Evans, Sister Taylor, Brothers William Evans and Herman Heins, the Greens,Moons, Eberhardts and the Carltons. Reverend Jones served as pastor for a brief period of time.
Past Leadership of the Church
At the end of 1931, Reverend William B. Toland assumed the pastoral responsibilities of the new church. During Reverend Toland’s dynamic ministry, the church grew in spirit and in numbers. Deacons William Evans and Elmore Green were ordained. In 1937 after six years as pastor, Reverend Toland was called to become the pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.
Reverend J. I. Goodman became the pastor of Second Macedonia in 1937 and the church experienced a new era of progress. The current location was remodeled inside, a baptismal pool was built and the church continued its spiritual growth during his ten-year tenure.
From 1947 through 1955, Reverend A. D. Owens served as pastor. The church flourished and accomplished much under his leadership and guidance. Second Macedonia was without a pastor from 1955 to 1958.
BEGINNING OF AN ERA
In April 1958, Reverend Thomas J. Ritter, an associate minister at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church,was called as supply minister. Rev. Ritter often talked about the six faithful members who were present when he delivered his first sermon.
In November 1958 Reverend Ritter, with his wife, the former Betty Davis, was installed as the pastor of Second Macedonia Baptist Church. Following his installation, Reverend Ritter immediately launched a Spiritual Revitalization Program in the church and Beautification Project.
Reverend Ritter re-organized the Missionary Society and organized a Children’s Choir and a Young People’s Choir under Sister Ritter’s direction. His “humpback” station wagon provided transportation for many of the church members in those days and God blessed his efforts. Souls were steadily added to the church and activities increased to meet the needs of the congregation and of the community.
The two people who had attended Sunday School that first Sunday grew to about one hundred under Superintendent Deacon William Evans with the help of Sister Ritter. Second Macedonia became one of the first churches in the area to offer a Vacation Bible School at night.
As the church continued to grow, new and exciting programs began: the Hanging of the Greens Service became an annual event, Annual Revivals were instituted and Women’s Day and Men’s Day observances were initiated.
Members, young and old, found joy in service and many groups and activities were organized or re-organized. Due to the continuing growth of the church, it soon became evident that a larger building was needed.
Move to 1524 Champlost Avenue
On October 1, 1961 a great motorcade, with a police escort, traveled up Broad Street to Champlost Avenue. This move was made possible by the sacrificial giving of the members. Prior to the actual move, Reverend Ritter handed out fliers to many of the residents in the area and invited them to attend the first service in the new edifice. Four people united with the church on that day: Daisy Chadwick, Elizabeth Williams and Serena and Earl Blount.
Under the direction and guidance of Reverend Ritter, the leadership of the church was expanded and new deacons and trustees were appointed. Reverend George Anderson, Sr. was licensed, ordained and appointed assistant pastor.
Harold Blount was licensed and became associate minister. In addition, June Jefferson, John Coaxum and Paul Mumford joined and became associate ministers.
The church never lost sight of the need to continue to provide the Christian Education and self-help projects for both the membership and the community at large. The Second Macedonia Day Care Center was founded in 1962, with Mrs. Cox as Director. In1963, Sister Bernice Thomas became director. The Day Care Center provided a much-needed service to the community. As a result of the excellent care their children received in that Christ centered environment, many families joined the church.
The church quickly began to outgrow its present location and a Building Fund Drive began under Sister Magdalene Harris with Deacon Evans as advisors. The Ways and Means Committee of the Building Fund was formed with Deacon Earl V. Blount as Chairman. When he became Chairman of the Deacon Board, his Vice-Chairman, Sister Elizabeth Williams, was appointed Chairman by the pastor and the excellent work of the committee continued with extensive and unique fund-raising events.
In recognition of the impact Reverend Ritter’s efforts had had on the West Oak Lane community, Mr. Alan Ameche, one of the founders of the Gino’s Chain, demonstrating his interest in our church, donated a personal gift of nearly $25,000 of Gino’s stock to our pastor. Reverend Ritter immediately donated the gift to the church and the money was used to purchase the property at 6101 Limekiln Pike. In addition to the many contributions to the Building Fund, Reverend Ritter personally received donations of over $150,000 from groups including The William Penn Foundation, The Glenmede Trust, Girard Bank (now Citizens Bank), Acme Markets and PNB (Philadelphia National Bank).
Move to 6101 Limekiln PikeIn order to better serve the needs of the community, the congregation decided to build a community center, which would be utilized for worship services. Led by Reverend Ritter and the Church Leadership, the congregation marched to its new location, 6101 Limekiln Pike in March 1975.
The church’s slogan, “The Church That Belongs to the Community” became a reality. Second Macedonia increased the number of social programs, as well as spiritual instruction offered to members and residents of the West Oak Lane area.
Move to 1301 West Ruscomb Street
Our “Journey of Faith” which led us to the present location, 1301 Ruscomb Street, began in January 1989. Our first worship service in this new location was held on Sunday, January 27, 1991.
In keeping with the motto of the church “The Church that Belongs to the Community”, new outreach programs began that have had a positive impact on the community. The Annual Carnival that ushers in Vacation Bible School has resulted in an increase in attendance at VBS. In the past few years, over 150 children have attended VBS and the community eagerly awaits the VBS each year.
The Outreach Ministries instituted following the move to 1301 West Ruscomb Street include The Noon Ministry of Prayer and the Moss Ministry.
Sis. Betty Davis Ritter
The impact Sis. Betty Ritter had on Second Macedonia as the wife of the pastor was unforgettable. Her wisdom,training, skill and dedicated hard work greatly enhanced the growth and ministries of Second Macedonia Baptist Church. Sis. Betty was always available as an advisor, planner, implementer, and organizer, and she was an ardent supporter of the pastor’s vision, plans and dreams for the church.
Her talent and hard work was most evident in the Day Care Program, initially established in 1962. A graduate of Temple University, she used her educational background when working with the Board of Christian Education, the Teen Pregnancy and Prevention Program and her love of music to enhance the Children’s Choir.
Reverend Thomas J. Ritter and the entire church suffered a major loss when the beloved first lady, Sister Betty Ritter, died on October 15, 1997. She will always be lovingly remembered by all from the railroad tracks, over to Champlost Avenue, on to Limekiln Pike and to our present home at 1301 West Ruscomb Street.
On May 25, 2002, Ms. Elizabeth Thompson united in marriage with Reverend Thomas J. Ritter. She was a willing helpmate to the pastor and worked diligently to support the growth of the church.
On Sunday September 22, 2002, as part of the 71st Anniversary of Second Macedonia observances, a Mortgage Burning Service for 1301 West Ruscomb Street property was held. This significant event was accomplished under the leadership of the Board of Trustees, chaired by Trustee Ernest Bing for thirteen years.
Second Macedonia was blessed to have Reverend George Anderson, Jr., a longtime member of the church,serve as the Assistant Pastor of the church for six years. Reverend Anderson,his beautiful wife, Dawn and their children: Tiffany and George, III, were integral parts of our church family. Both he and his wife, contributed to the continued growth of the church and Rev. Anderson also served as the Executive Director of the G.O.S.P. Community Center until his death on October 16, 2003 at the age of 46.
Second Macedonia Community Bible Institute
One of Rev. Ritter's many visions was the extension of the of the Christian Education ministry through the Second Macedonia Community Bible Institute. The Institute opened on October 23, 2006 under the leadership of Rev. Harriet King, Deacon Joseph Burke and other dedicated leaders.
The Institute is accredited by the ETA and offers ETA Certified and other ETA accredited courses.
Sanctuary Beautification Project
Rev. Ritter always stressed that a congregation is responsible to maintaining the beauty of their house of worship. In February 2008, the church embarked on a major renovation of the Sanctuary and worship services were held in the Fellowship Hall for the next six weeks.
On Sunday, April 27, 2008, the church celebrated the 50th Pastoral Celebration and Dedication of the New Sanctuary. Praise the Lord!
Tribute to the Late Rev. Dr. Thomas J. Ritter
Second Macedonia’s history, its roots and its accomplishments, are the results of the actions of its people – under the God inspired leadership of the Reverend Dr.Thomas J. Ritter, a great shepherd who served for over fifty years. After a short illness, the beloved pastor died on Saturday, January 17, 2009 at the age of eighty-six, leaving an imprint on the lives of many in the city of Philadelphia. We salute a great man of GOD!