ABOVE PHOTO: Bishop Floyd Palmer leaving the pulpit following conclusion of Installation Ceremony at Bright Hope Baptist Church. (Photo: Solomon Williams)
By Thera Martin
On Saturday, March 16, Bishop Mary Floyd Palmer made history when she became the first female presiding bishop installed as the president of the Philadelphia Council of Clergy. The event took place at the historic Bright Hope Baptist Church at 12th and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, where Rev. Dr. Darron K. McKinney is the pastor. The sanctuary was packed with religious, elected and civic leaders, as well as family and friends of Bishop Mary Floyd Palmer. It was significant that Bishop Mary, as many call her, was installed in March, Women’s History Month, because she was making history in her own right.
There to cheer her on were the likes of Rev. Jay Broadnax, President of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity; Philadelphia City Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, PA State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams and Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Jacqueline Frazier Lyde, just to name a few. Bishop James Harvey traveled from London especially for the occasion. “Bishop Mary is a special woman of God, and there is no place in the world that I would [rather have been] on this day, than right here to pray for and celebrate my sister upon her elevation to presiding Bishop of the Philadelphia Council of Clergy. You will serve well and make us proud Bishop Mary,” he said.
Your Highness Yami Garnett from Ghana attended the installation, as did Princess Egypt Ify Ufule from Nigeria. Princess Ufule’s father is a United Nations official.
Was there some pomp and circumstance with the installation? Absolutely. “It was magnificent!” gushed one guest, who witnessed the program, with tears rolling down her cheeks.
“I am elated and excited for what this time and season will bring to the Philadelphia Council of Clergy,” Floyd Palmer said. “My uncle began it in 1994, and it was at a different time. He ran that organization pretty much on his own for 25 years and he did it pretty much as we would say, “his way.” Some may not have always agreed either with the things he said, or did, but it does not take away his 66 years of ministry in this town nor the countless of thousands of people he has helped. Now in his retirement years, and being given the mantel he has passed on to me, I’m looking forward to doing things differently new. Bringing things up to the 21st century, we have a brand new web site, www.pccglobal.org. We have a new phone number, (833) 722-4748, a revised vision and an agenda that is going to be able to help us be able to serve effectively where we not only reside but where we work.”
“I am excited for change and I’m elated for everything that has happened,” she added. “I’m honored by Bright Hope Baptist Church. I’m blessed by the Samaritan Temple and I’m absolutely humbled by the Chief Celebrant David Hartman and my uncle, (Bishop Anthony Floyd), for such an affirmation of support and love.”
The Philadelphia Council of Clergy, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in 1994. This is an ecumenical group of multi-cultural faith-based leaders who desire is to alleviate suffering, overcome oppression, foster justice and peace, not only in Philadelphia citywide, but all communities where we work and live, having impacted over 600,000 people locally, nationally and internationally. As religious leaders, their network promotes a unified relationship with our government officials and the social and economic advancement of our pastors and their members.
Bishop Floyd Palmer is the eldest daughter of Rev. Dr. Melvin Floyd, the urban missionary known as the “Dean of Evangelism” and notably admired for his unique van with the coffin affixed on top. A family woman who is the mother of three sons and one daughter and the grandmother of seven, her family mantle was “Serving the Lord in Church,” beginning at the tender age of three. She’s always been dedicated to any church assignment, from the pulpit to the door, by giving her time, talent and tithes. As a vocalist and musician playing four instruments, Palmer faithfully served with her father at Agape Christian Chapel under his pastorate as minister of music for 25 years. A proud Philadelphian, educated in both the Christian and public school systems, she graduated summa cum laude at the acclaimed Philadelphia High School For Girls. Her thirst for knowledge finally led to her earned Doctorate in Ministry.
In May 2006, Floyd Palmer entered full-time ministry as a motivational speaker, sharing common sense principles on work-related matters and relationships and as an evangelist sharing the word of God in a direct, practical and no-nonsense manner. Passionate about prison ministries, she presently serves as a volunteer instructor teaching her weekly Reality Life Skills classes for male inmates at SCI-Chester from its inception in 1988 until present. This does not stop her from ministering federal, state and county prisons, halfway houses and homeless shelters, the Bowery Mission and Walter Hoving Home (New York), numerous nursing homes and youth centers all along the East Coast. Bishop Mary has become confidant and counselor to pastors, their wives and Episcopal leaders from all across the country, only continuing the wisdom mantle that her father taught and trained her for.
Along with a myriad of responsibilities, she hosts the weekly award-winning “The Bishop Mary Show” (formerly on WURD Radio), now on Spiritual Connect Radio. (www.spiritualconnectradio.com). Her show is designed to be real and relevant to the listening audience that spans both nationally and internationally.
Bishop Mary says she has big plans for the Philadelphia Council of Clergy moving forward.
“While we will stay at the same location where our headquarters has been for many years, at 2644 N. 22nd Street, we are giving that location a facelift,” She said. “We are hoping to have the building back open and operational five days a week, six days a week, whatever it takes, as soon as possible to serve our community actively. It will be a professional office space, but also we plan on making it a meeting place, not only for community meetings, but for worship as well. We’ll be offering some evangelism seminars out of our location on North 22nd Street. We will offer an evangelism seminar for folks who want to share their faith with others in a more tangible way, but who want to do it quickly and more effectively. We will also be having a course on adjunctancy, which means something added to another thing, but not part of the whole. I’ll be partnering with people who have specific specialties, who do not mind coming in and teaching others about it. We will also be offering a special course for bishops and pastors on final estate planning. We want to make sure that churches with these great leaders have the proper plans in place for their church leadership, so that when the pastor or bishop passes, they can receive all the honors that they should receive and be funeralized as they would want to be. Besides the comfort of fellowship and encouragement, I intend to empower leaders and others through training to be effective in evangelism, etiquette and community engagement. During this transition, it is my hope for membership growth and a continued partnering relationship with other clergy, civic and community organizations whose goals are to actively work with and be the voice for the least and most vulnerable of our citizenry. To whom much is given, much is required.”
“I pass the torch of leadership on to my niece with great pride and confidence, knowing that she is well-prepared to take on the job and represent our family as the Philadelphia Council of Clergy well. She has earned this position and I will keep her in my prayers as she moves forward to make PCC stronger and more vibrant than ever,” Bishop Anthony Floyd, who founded the Philadelphia Council of Clergy stated.