Kennett Square Church Family set to Mark 50th Anniversary

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NEIGHBORS CHESTER & BRANDYWINE

Edition: CWEST    Page: B03

Kennett Square Church Family set to Mark 50th Anniversary the Pastor’s Wife is a Granddaughter of a Founder Who Remains a Bright Presence at Christ Temple Pentecostal.
09/29/2000

John Corr, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

The Rev. C. Mark Avery rises when Catherine Norton comes into his office.

 

It’s not just that she is 77 and 40 years his senior, or even that she is his wife’s grandmother. There is also the fact that she may be considered the “mother” of the church he serves as pastor. Slight, bright and quick to smile, Norton goes into Mr. Avery’s office in the basement of the Christ Temple Pentecostal Church on Birch Street in Kennett Square to talk about the big celebration of the 50th anniversary of the birth of the church.

 

She was present at the birth. In fact, the dozen or so believers who formed the nucleus of the church met for prayer and Bible study in her home on Mill Road, Kennett Square, before becoming an official congregation of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World.

 

“We met first at my house,” she said. “Then we found this vacant, rundown church in Unionville, but we couldn’t stay there long.”

 

The congregation was officially formed in 1950. Two years later, the group, which then numbered about 30, raised the money to build the Birch Street church. That same year, the church’s Inspirational Gospel Choir was formed. The first service at the new church was on Easter Sunday 1952. Because the upstairs sanctuary wasn’t finished, the service was held in the basement.

 

In a way, the sanctuary is still being finished. This week the interior was painted and carpeted just in time for the birthday celebration that begins this evening.

 

There will be special services and fellowship meetings every night, and the observance concludes on Oct. 8 with a birthday banquet at the Best Western Concordville Inn. Pentecostal Bishop Fernwood Jones will be the banquet speaker.

 

Mr. Avery went to the church in 1985 as a lay member of the congregation.

 

“I had no inkling that I would ever, ever become pastor,” he said.

 

In 1987, the Rev. Allen Tate, then pastor, appointed him a deacon.

 

“I thought it was a very high honor,” he said, “especially since my father and grandfather had been deacons at the Rose of Sharon Pentecostal Church in Philadelphia.”

 

He entered Bible school and began studying for the ministry. He preached his first sermon in 1989 and became pastor in 1992.

 

His mostly African American congregation has grown to 150, and he now serves a busy church whose members are very much involved in community projects.

 

“It’s a warm, loving and cordial congregation,” he said, “and one that keeps a balance between church and community activity. I urge everyone to get out of the comfort zone of our church building, to touch and embrace the community and become part of the heartbeat of the community.”

 

In this regard, Mr. Avery has led by example. He is a member of the Kennett Consolidated school board and of the Kennett YMCA Board of Directors.

 

A major activity for the congregation in recent weeks has been reaching out to former members of the congregation to bring them back to the church for the anniversary celebration.

 

“Many of the original founders are still with us, and we hope to see them all during the coming week,” he said.

 

John Corr’s e-mail address is jcorr@phillynews.com

Illustration:PHOTO PHOTO

Gathered to plan the anniversary celebrations are (from left) Beverly Peterson Catherine Jones, Catherine Norton, the Rev. C. Mark Avery, church pastor. A week of activities is planned. (HINDA SCHUMAN / Inquirer Suburban Staff)

 

©2000 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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