CHURCHES PUT CREED INTO DEED
By Jennie McKeon
What is gratifying to any pastor is when he or she has touched somebody and made a significant change in her life. For Pastor May, that person is Stephanie Powell.
Powell began going to Friendship when Rev. Theophalis May was pastor almost 11 years ago. She enjoyed the church and her fellow members, but she was unhappy with her place in the church. She tried the mass choir, praise team, usher board and helping with the youth choir.
“I didn’t want to be a bench member,” Powell said. “I thought, ‘There has to be something I can do.’”
After Hurricane Ivan when the remodeling of Friendship was done, Powell noticed the projectors above the altar and thought it would be fun to try the multimedia side of church.
“It became my niche,” Powell said. “I love it. I think I’ve grown into one of the people that I admired when I was younger. It’s a big deal. I remember when I got keys to the church, I thought, ‘I’m somebody. I’ve arrived.’”
Once Powell began working actively with the church, she realized that this may actually be something she would want to do for a living. She went to Florida A&M to major in graphic design, where she was number one in her class. After graduation, she was offered a job with the IRS in Washington, D.C.
When Powell was unsure about moving away to go to college as a first-generation student, Pastor May gave her guidance to push her along.
“Pastor May told me, ‘The Lord will never take you anywhere that His will won’t cover you’,” Powell said.
She only lasted in Washington, D.C. for two and a half months, and was welcomed back to Pensacola and Friendship with open arms. Now she is the media manager at Friendship, where she is in charge of branding the church. She even created a logo for the church. Powell typically spends about 15-20 hours a week either at the church or working for the church. For free. And she does this on top of her job at Pensacola Apothecary as marketing coordinator.
Friendship is the type of church where every member is family. At the 11:30 a.m. service, people are talking and laughing before the service starts. Even though the service lasted almost two hours, people are not ready to leave. They hand their colorful gifts to Pastor May, who accepts them graciously, and socialize with other members.
“We’re a big, happy family,” Powell said. “It’s great to feel like you belong somewhere, and it’s even greater to feel like you’re at home. I take that with me all week, and by the time I need more, it’s Sunday.”