The Rev. Pervis Brown Sr. has moved on.
The pastor of the Church of Philadelphia has embarked on a new journey, one he planned and prepared for his entire adult life.
Brown died Dec. 2, leaving behind a wife, 11 children, many grandchildren and hundreds, or maybe thousands of friends. The number of friends can only be estimated, because, to Pastor Brown, everyone he came in contact with was his friend, and those people he didn't know were friends he just hadn't met yet.
For more than 35 years, he brought the Word to wherever it was needed most -- including the Erie County Jail. Each week until his health deteriorated, he counseled and prayed with inmates, opening the doors of hope for many who felt it had been slammed in their faces.
When asked how he was able to relate to convicted criminals, he said, "I'm not their judge. Even the judge isn't their Judge. There's only one Judge and he'll tend to them when their time comes."
He had a dream to build a halfway house in Perkins Township to help ease the transition from incarceration to productive society for newly released prisoners. He felt his mission was to tend to the worldly needs as well as the spiritual needs of his flock. Though unfulfilled, his dream may not be dead. His family, which includes a number of men and women of the cloth, has asked that memorial contributions be made to the Church of Philadelphia Building Fund.
Brown worked as a building contractor to support his large family. He would do anything it took to ensure its survival. Above all, Brown was a survivor. Though he may be gone, he will survive through the works of his children and grandchildren and through the changes he helped bring about in his flock.
Brown was not a sanctimonious man. A holier-than-thou attitude had no place in his life. He didn't live a life of quiet contemplation. His voice boomed, his laughter resounded, his presence could not be ignored. A large man with a large heart, he had a message and he did his best to spread it.
But he has moved on, and the area is poorer because of it. While singer James Brown may be the Godfather of Soul, Pastor Pervis Brown Sr. was our Godfather of Souls.