The Peniel Baptist Church was founded in 1933 by the late Rev. Estee A. Walker, with a membership of four worshippers. They met in a loft over a wood yard at 24th and Nassau Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The name “Peniel” is derived from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 32, verse 30: “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, for I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved.”
Subsequently, Peniel relocated to 1502 North 25th Street and 2505 West Jefferson Street. Rev. E.A. Walker urged the parents in the neighborhood to bring their young children to Sunday School and church. He had a good rapport with children and so a large percentage of the congregation consisted of children. Later, some parents came with their children. Peniel’s membership increased slowly but consistently. The Junior Choir was acclaimed throughout the City under the teaching of the late Professor Archie Brown. They grew up and became the parents, grandparents and great grandparents of our choirs today.
In 1948, Rev. Walker was moved to elevate our worship facilities to attain more comfort and space. To secure the $25,000.00 blanket mortgage that was required to raze and construct 2511 West Jefferson Street, the following members pledged their homes as collateral: Rev. E.A. Walker, Bro. Lawrence Walker, Dea. & Mrs. Andrew Parks, Dea. Julius Hines, and Mrs. Carrie Woodson. The old building, a bakery, was razed and construction of the new building commenced August 7, 1948. Our monthly housing costs grew from $50.00 to $375.00, an increase of 650%. We marched into an incomplete auditorium on Sunday, October 7, 1950. We met our payments by each member contributing $2.50 weekly toward mortgage amortization.
During these critical years, the following clubs and presidents and other dedicated members, served, instituted and carried out effective monetary programs:
Janie Edwards, Willing Workers Club Eleanora Dykes, Excelsior Club Rosa McPherson, Progressive Club Laura Walker Carrie Woodson, Club Alva Doris Turner-Williams Janet Walker, Harvest Workers Lottie Johnson Beatrice Ashford Tucker, Busy Bee Club Ella Thomas Mary Reed Mattie Skipworth, Helping Hand Club Louella Milton Maxine Williams Millie Parks Frances Norwood-White Ethel Garrett Delores Garrett-Patterson Bertha Staten
During our lean years, Mother Janie Gibbs (formerly Edwards), instituted the first Women’s Day observance in Peniel and served as its Chairlady for many years, before relinquishing the office to Sister Eleanora Dykes. Trustee Vergil Harris chaired the Men’s Day observance for many successful years before passing the baton to Trustee Melvin Walker, Sr. The funds realized on these two major annual days were sorely needed for our survival. The main auditorium was completed in 1953, from mid-April through mid-June by Mr. Hayden Daniels.
Peniel has been blessed with quality musicians and/or choir directors during the entire life of the church. Some of them include:
Sis. Kinard, Chapel Choir (previously Junior Choir) , Bro. Walter Moss, Jr., Chapel Choir, Professor Archie Brown, Chapel Choir, Sis. Dorothy McCloud, Walker’s Chorus, Bro. Calvin Marshall, Chapel Choir, Sis. Goldie Hills, Chapel Choir, Sis. Vernice Stanford, Inspirational Choir, Bro. Alvin Baker, Inspirational Choir, Bro. Woodrow Parker, Inspirational Choir, Bro. Lawrence Jones, Inspirational Choir, Sis. Annette Scott, Inspirational Choir, Youth Choir, Combined Choir, Chapel Choir, Walker’s Chorus, Bro., Alfred Burton, Inspirational Choir Bro., Keith Keys, Walker’s Chorus Bro., Timothy Shearfield, Youth Choir, Sis. Joan Pinkney, Walker’s Chorus, Walkettes (Youth in Action), Sunshine Choir, Inspirational Choir, Sis. Cheryl Williams, Chapel Choir, Inspirational Choir, Sis. Vivian Pope, Walker’s Chorus , Sis. Belinda Biddle, Youth Choir , Bro. Steven Page, Youth Choir, Bro. David Leon, Youth Choir, Sis. Annette Hall, Drummer, Sis. Irma Beatty Brown Coleman, Walker’s Chorus, Bro. Gerard Coates, Youth Choir Sis. Beverly Stevenson, Walker’s Chorus, Combined Choir, Bro. Brock Brown, Walker’s Chorus, Bro. Tony Hall, Drummer, Bro. Tim Patton, Keyboard
Sis. Jenn Patton, Praise & Worship Director
Rev. Estee A. Walker went home to be with the Lord on May 1, 1985. His son, Rev. Lawrence H. Walker, Sr. was installed as the second Pastor of the Peniel Baptist Church in October 1985. In the fall of 1985, Pastor Lawrence Walker instituted a Building Fund program. He had a vision wherein Peniel could acquire neighboring properties to expand our space and accommodate additional ministries, i.e., classrooms, recreation, library, food coop, restrooms, lounge, officers’ rooms, pastors’ study, choir room etc. He suggested a building fund goal of $100,000 to be donated by members in a space of three years, through pledges and sacrificial giving. Each member was asked to pledge according as God blessed in the amount of $28.00 to $278.00 per month. Through the years, the upkeep of the physical church resulted in many demands on the building fund. However, thanks be to God and the perseverance of our Pastor, the building fund committee, trustees, and members, we celebrated a Groundbreaking Ceremony on June 30, 2002.
After construction and other delays, God blessed us with a completed addition to our church property. We marched into our completed facilities on Sunday, October 23, 2005. To God be the glory!
Peniel continues an outreach program and has been blessed with new souls into our congregation. As Peniel prepares to celebrate 86Years in the Lord’s Service, we give praise to Him for answered prayer. “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer.” Isaiah 58:9
In 2003, Pastor Walker ordained the first female minister at Peniel, Rev Mary Smith. He also licensed Minister Gloria W. Walker.
Our beloved Pastor, Rev. Lawrence H. Walker, Sr., upon the leading of the Holy Spirit, announced his retirement after almost 30 years. His last official day as our Pastor was December 30, 2014. He served as Pastor Emeritus as Peniel prayerfully sought the Lord for a new Pastor.
Deacon John Jenkins, Chairman of our Deacon Board stood in his stead and Chaired the Pulpit Search Committee as we pursued the Pastoral Search process.
On Sunday, September 10, 2017, Rev. Nathan E. Adams came on board to assist Peniel as Interim Pastor. He brought his own style of encouragement and intentional worship. He became a beloved fixture here at Peniel. We will miss him as he resumes his former ministry responsibilities as we welcome God’s choice for a pastor for Peniel.
After much fasting, prayer and hard work, the Pulpit Search Committee recommended a Pastoral Candidate to the congregation. On Saturday, February 17, 2018, Peniel voted in as Pastor Elect Rev. Khalil B. Rogers and first lady Mrs. Tamika Rogers, and children Talia and Khalil. Pastor Rogers previously served as Associate Pastor at Bible Way Baptist Church in Philadelphia under the pastorate of Dr. Damone B. Jones. We look forward to his leadership, his vision, his teaching and preaching and we anticipate following him as he follows Christ. We lovingly welcomed Pastor Rogers and his family into the Peniel Baptist Church family on Sunday, April 25, 2018. With the calling of our new Pastor, the Lord has blessed Peniel with many new members added the Peniel family. To God be the glory! Pastor Rogers continues to preach and teach God’s word as the Lord continues to increase.
On Wednesday, June 13, 2018 our beloved Pastor Emeritus Lawrence H. Walker, Sr. went home to be with the Lord. He will be truly missed but left us in the good hands of Rev. Khalil B. Rogers.
Pastor Rogers was installed as the 3rd Pastor of Peniel Baptist Church on Sunday, September 30, 2018. Since that time, the Lord has added many to our Peniel family.
On September 29, 2019, Pastor Khalil Rogers, First Lady Tamika Rogers and children Talia and Khalil celebrated their first anniversary with the Peniel Baptist Church, and we, Peniel are still celebrating this man of God that we have been blessed with who teaches and preaches to the glory of God.
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