Growing Bible Way Baptist Church in West Philadelphia Is Home for Many People

The Rev. Damone B. Jones Sr., fourth from left, and his family are seated for start of service. — TRIBUNE PHOTOS BY RONALD GRAY
The Rev. Damone B. Jones Sr., fourth from left, and his family are seated for start of service.

Family is a word one will hear a lot when asking members of Bible Way Baptist in West Philadelphia to describe their church. Every member is not only a part of a growing congregation but a vital part of a growing family.

At the head of this family is Pastor Damone B. Jones Sr., who celebrated his 22nd anniversary as the second pastor to lead the church since its beginnings some 65 years ago.

If the church feels like home, in Jones’ case who grew up in West Philadelphia, it really was home.

“I’ve been here 22 years and it’s been a great journey, it’s a great group of people, it’s a great community and I actually grew up 10 blocks from the church,” said Jones.

Jones began his career as a minister at Mount Zion Baptist Church under Pastor Hiawatha Coleman, and Jones has fond memories of that time.

“He was just such a nurturing kind of pastor and recognized the calling in me early on in life,” he said.

“When I was very young, in my teens, I accepted the call to ministry and was licensed in 1986 to preach and then called to Bible Way in 1994.”

It was while serving as the interim pastor of another church in Southwest Philadelphia that Jones was asked to preach at Bible Way. After his sermon, he was later asked to submit his resume to Bible Way, went through a selection process and the rest is history.

Bible Way began 65 years ago with founding pastor McKinley Gaither and his wife, Scotia.

“They were discipleship kinds of people, everything was about discipleship for them so they grew the church on the Bible, on Sunday School, on Bible study type things,” said Jones.

Under Gaither the church grew significantly and he served for 42 years until Jones was selected as Pastor over two decades ago.

“He [Gaither] had laid such a wonderful foundation that it wasn’t difficult for me to pick up where he left off,” Jones said.

There was a significant difference between the two pastors. Gaither was in his 80s and Jones only in his 20s but Jones said the two had a lot in common both philosophically and theologically.

Today, Bible Way continues its focus on discipleship and community engagement.

Jones describes himself as very similar to Gaither who was said to be a no-nonsense kind of minister who cared more for the preaching of the Word of God than performances and theatrics.

Bible Way isn’t a place for spectators but encourages participation among members.

“I’m similar to Pastor Gaither in that I don’t have a lot of time to play and I don’t have a lot of time to perform. In my heart I just want people to know the Lord, have a relationship with Him and grow so I’m very demanding when it comes to people being in Bible study, people being in prayer service and people being in Sunday School and participating in ministry because I believe that those are the things which cause people to grow in the Lord,” said Jones.

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Source: Philadelphia Tribune | Nathaniel Lee