“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:4) There is hardly a more straight-forward manner in which this gift of the Holy Spirit is evidenced than in the ministry of Tully Memorial Presbyterian Church. Located in Sharon Hill, Tully Memorial is truly a multi-cultural congregation, with Christians from Ghana, Togo, Benin, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Jamaica, and Cameroon worshipping together with African-Americans and Caucasians. Led by the vision and leadership of Rev. Dr. Komlan Ezunkpe, Sunday morning services are spoken in Ewe, French, and English.
With assistance from the Presbytery’s Covenant Fund, this congregation offers the English as a Second Language (ESL) program to bridge cultures and establish better communication. Initially offered to members within the congregation, quickly the need to open the program to the neighborhood became evident. Tully Memorial’s program now offers computer skills, classes on wellness (including good eating habits in a new country), and health screenings. The ESL program has enabled several participants to pass their citizenship test.
Tully Memorial was first established in 1908 to serve the booming Sharon Hill neighborhood. After a peak of 800 members in the 1960’s, the congregation began to decline. As the surrounding area welcomed new African immigrants, the Ewe (pronounced ay-way) Immigrant Faith Community was housed in Tully Memorial’s building in 2009.
In a bold act of courage and faith, the two congregations: Tully Memorial and Ewe Immigrant Faith Community joined together as one body in 2013. One hundred years after the initial organization of the congregation, the faithful Presbyterians of Sharon Hill once again sought to minister to its neighbors, incorporating new languages and new traditions into worship and other areas of church life.
The Presbytery of Philadelphia, through its support of this congregation through the Covenant Fund, rejoices in its faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that uplifts God’s great diversity of language and culture. In a world that often finds such differences to be barriers, Tully Memorial upholds these gifts to be embraced and celebrated. As Rev. Dr. Ezunkpe reflects, through the ESL program “the immigrants have been equipped and empowered to overcome fear and communicate better. Some of them have joined the church’s leadership; reading on Sundays, and joining the session. This allows us to grow altogether spiritually on our discipleship and leadership journey. We are able to share our various gifts and learn of the wider variety of ways in which the image of God is reflected in all of God’s children.” Thanks be to God for this expression of the Kingdom in Sharon Hill!