As far as the local faith community is concerned, 2007 should go down in history as a year filled mostly with stability and progress.
The year began on a very important historic note as the first Muslim and Buddhist members of Congress took office, and a Hindu worship leader became the first member of his faith to open a session of the U.S. Senate in prayer.
The new Muslim Congressman, Rep. Keith Ellison, also became the first African-American to represent Minnesota in Congress.
“It’s time for the United States to see a moderate Muslim voice, to see a face of Islam that is just like everybody else’s face,” Ellison said.
Locally, some congregations experienced major transitions in leadership. In April Pastor D.L. Page was officially installed as pastor of New Baptist Church, and in May the House of Prayer Community Church installed Pastors Frederick and Vera Hyche.
In June Dr. D.L. Porter was installed as pastor of Greater Galilee Institutional Missionary Baptist Church. He had previously served a church in New Orleans before it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Various congregations celebrated several decades of service to the community. In particular, the historic congregations of Phillips Temple C.M.E. Church, led by Rev. Oliver Walker, and Witherspoon Presbyterian, led by Rev. L. Bryant Parker both celebrated 100-year anniversaries.
Walk in the Light Christian Church, under Pastor Clarence Bolden and True Vine Missionary Baptist Church, led by Rev. Damon Love, were among congregations that entered new facilities.
Rev. Donald Hudson’s Umoja Christian Church and The Way, an Africentric Methodist congregation led by Rev. James Aniyike, were among new congregations that experienced progress this year.
Local Church of God in Christ (COGIC) ministers joined fellow leaders in their denomination in remembering Bishop G.E. Patterson, popular leader of the 6.5 million-member COGIC who died in March at the age of 68. He was succeeded by Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., bishop of Southern California.
In March Michael Johnson became the first African-American to direct Lutheran Child & Family Services, a multi-service non-profit agency that provides counseling, adoptions, foster care and parental education classes. Previously Johnson had served as chief of the Philadelphia school system and a YMCA official in St. Louis.
During the summer, following years of hard work, Suffragan Bishop Joseph Farris, former pastor of Zion Tabernacle Apostolic Church, joined other pastors and civic leaders in opening an affordable housing complex for seniors named in his honor.
“We had many ups and downs, we had many obstacles, but nevertheless God brought it to pass,” Farris said.
Light of the World Christian Church, led by Bishop T. Garrott Benjamin Jr., held a groundbreaking ceremony for its upcoming senior living center being built on North Michigan Road.
In October entrepreneur and community activist Sue Swayze established the Indiana Christian Chamber of Commerce as a fellowship and service organization for Christian business owners.
“Faith is woven in everything we do, and we would like to celebrate that by using our success to further the kingdom, serve the community, enhance each other and have fun in the process.”
Bishop Edgar Allen of Cathedral of Praise Church celebrated 30 years as senior pastor and brought his annual Glory to Glory Conference back after much anticipation.
Pastor A. Thomas Hill of Healing Streams Word and Worship Center and supporters presented numerous “Drive-By Prayer Vigils” to support families affected by violent crime and soothe troubled neighborhoods. Several ministers also joined the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Departments new Community Clergy program.
Last year will also be remembered for several gospel music artists who invited residents of the community they love to participate in live recordings for new albums, including Bishop Leonard Scott, Lamar Campbell, Joshua and Pastor Brian Anderson Payne.