In late 2014, the Philadelphia Church under the leadership of Pastor Keith Hackle, Jr. began planning a series that would run throughout the month of February. The series was designed to be more than just another opportunity to invite guest speakers to bless the congregation with a message, but rather to serve as a two-pronged plan to broach issues affecting the members and community, and serve as a launching pad for the full evangelistic series to be held in the summer.

The topic for 2015? Race relations. The result? Four weeks of powerful messages that edified the church and community while glorifying God. The aftermath? The February series has become a mainstay on Philadelphia’s annual calendar.

The topic for 2016? Women in ministry. Each week a different female speaker (a majority of whom are ministry leaders within the Central States Conference) preached on the theme I Will Follow, a response to Jesus’ mandate in Matt. 16:24: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (NIV).

The takeaways range from sharing words of encouragement to testimonies of transformation. Motivation to overcome past mistakes was given, along with advice on how the male and female members of the church can come together without competition to complete the ministry to which God has called the Philadelphia Church. Each message was exactly what was needed at the time it was needed.

Commenting on why Philadelphia decided to focus the series on women in ministry this year, Pastor Hackle explained that God led them in this direction for two reasons: 1. For understanding. Helping to overcome the plight of a person of the opposite sex is difficult if you don’t understand what that person has been through. This month gives men the opportunity to hear about what women go through (the same thing happened last year with the series that was largely geared toward men) and women get to also hear that they are not the only ones who are going through certain issues. Education results in ministry on a higher, more effective level. 2. For uplift. “The majority of the members at Philadelphia are female; the majority of the doors that we will be knocking on in the Spring are to homes that are led by females,” said Pastor Hackle. “We want to communicate to our members and our community that we care about our ladies and young ladies; that we are a family and we have their backs.”

The last Sabbath of the series was a time of great celebration at Philadelphia and in heaven. Three young ladies who completed Bible studies were baptized. “Their decision for Christ coinciding with us holding this series speaks volumes. I imagine that seeing women serving in various positions, and seeing men support them in their endeavors, helped them decide that Philadelphia is more than a place they want to attend but a family they want to be a part of,” said Pastor Hackle.

He added that Philadelphia is eagerly anticipating the fruit that will come from the summer series and also the ministries that will develop as a result of every member being encouraged.