Congressman Sestak recognizes Mt. Zion AME Church of Norristown's 180th anniversary
Sestak thanks Pastor Kanice Johns for her 'leadership, compassion and spiritual strength'
Congressman Joe Sestak (PA-07) congratulated Rev. Kanice Johns and her congregants at Mt. Zion AME Church of Norristown on Willow Street on Sunday, Dec. 5, as they celebrated their 180th anniversary today. The Congressman expressed his admiration for the perseverance of Mr. Zion's members and their unyielding dedication to their church, the larger Norristown community and each other.
"For nearly two centuries this congregation has lifted prayers to heaven that, over time, have carried our nation through the scourge of slavery, too many wars, great economic depressions and countless unjust acts by our fellow man and even elected officials," wrote the Congressman in a letter of recognition he delivered to Pastor Johns. "Your hope and persistence for a better tomorrow reminds me of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s comment, 'To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.'
"It gives me the greatest pleasure to praise Pastor Kanice Johns for her leadership, compassion and spiritual strength. She is an invaluable asset to our community and has this church on a course to continued greatness. Thank you for everything you have done for one another, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and our nation over the past 180 years. I wish you all peace and joy for generations to come."
According to the church's website, the congregation was founded in 1830 when a group "gathered for worship in a building at Airy and Walnut Streets" As part of its community service, the congregation has established a commitment to assisting area youth through tutoring and other programs. Congressman Sestak recognized a number of initiatives the church has pursued under Pastor Johns' leadership. These have included the church's Educational Achievement Committee, which has helped students who are college bound and the Scholarship Committee, which has worked to give a stipend to graduating students of the church. The congregation has also built a computer lab.
Since November, Congressman Sestak has attended 27 houses of worship to express his appreciation. With this approach in mind during the past four years, Congressman Sestak hosted a Seventh Congressional District Anti-Violence Summit with religious leaders from various faiths, and visited one or more places of worship in addition to his own almost every week since becoming a Congressman.
"I am so appreciative for the warm welcome I have received from leaders like Bishop Newkirk, Pastor Quann and Pastor Johns, and their communities," said Congressman Sestak. "I have found that good politicians and good congregational leaders have significant common ground and the ability to work together to offer their constituents the opportunity to reach their full potential. Public officials also have a lot to learn from the everyday challenges our citizens are facing. By listening, we can better ensure the appropriate role of government to make sure they have a fair chance to pursue the American Dream."
Among the issues the Congressman has addressed in speaking at services, as well as one-on-one with pastors and congregants, are ways to increase high school graduation rates, access to an affordable higher education and solutions for reducing crime and violence.