By Rev. Dorothy S. Boulware
AFRO Managing Editor
Dr. Peggy Wall was the kind of woman who’d host a “crazy faith” retreat and dare the women to acknowledge their gifts, ignore their dings and step out — Girlfriend it’s time — on crazy faith and be who they were created to be.
And many women and men are so much the better for having at least embraced the whole possibility.
It was that spiritual “moxy” and the enveloping love that made Dr. Wall a “stand out” person in the kingdom of God and her unexpected death, on June 20, has left many in disbelief.
“Dr. Wall was indeed a treasured vessel whose anointing oil blessed multiple generations, changing the trajectory of men, women and boys and girls’ lives for generations to come,” said her friend, the Rev. Dr. Leah White, pastor of Greater Faith Baptist Church in Baltimore.
“Her testimony was one of the divine love and grace that she found in Jesus.”
This statement is heard repeatedly in reference to Dr. Wall.
“I came to know her as ‘Aunt Peggy’ in the early 1990s when she founded Immanuel Temple AME Church and my aunt, the Rev. Adella Holt, was with her. From the classroom to the pulpit to the board room, she gave of herself tirelessly,” said the Rev. Stephanie M. Atkins, pastor, Waters Memorial AME Church in Philadelphia.
Some of her students from Bethel Christian School are my beloved nieces to this day and I am witness to how these little girls have grown into responsible women, mothers and leaders from her influence in their lives during their formative years.’
In that same Imani Temple, was found the young drummer who was encouraged to keep at it.
He followed her instruction and today, he’s pastor of the Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore.
“I met her as a young child at Bethel where my father worked in security. That was my first encounter with her,” said Pastor G.J. Barnes.
“And when she founded Immanuel Temple, my dad was one of the first five members to join. I was probably 10 years old.”
That was just the start of their relationship which has continued throughout.
“At that point I was really excited to be participating in church and she was good with me being the drummer.”
Pastor Barnes watched as ministers of music came and went, knowing he was too young and inexperienced for the job at that time. But Dr. Wall also saw his enthusiasm and arranged some sessions with other church musicians when he showed he was also interested in and not bad at the keyboard.
“Within two years I jumped from the drums to the keyboard and became minister of music.”
Dr. Wall spoke to him about a call on his life when he was around 15.
“I really didn’t know what that meant then, but she created a structured environment into which I could grow. She took me to leadership conferences that had a youth component. And by 17, I could accept my call because I understood it better and she would from time to time invite me to bring a word,” Pastor Barnes said.
And he acknowledged many others into whose lives she sowed.
“She really was the quintessential representation of the word ‘empowerment,’ providing resources, training, encouragement and confidence.”
She had come from humble beginnings but had not let that deter her progress; she was not going to let others do less. Professionally, she rose from a classroom teacher to a master teacher, to a trainer of teachers and ultimately to the level of regional supervision.
Pastor Barnes is just one who has the living legacy of Dr. Wall engraved on his being, having been raised through the “pedagogy of faith, excellence, compassion and affirmation,” referenced by Dr. Wall’s spiritual parents and mentors, Bishop John R. and the Rev. Dr. Cecelia Williams Bryant. “Her legacy is evident in the souls transformed by her ministry of hope and possibility, and in the mourning of the women she “sistered,” the men she encouraged and the community she loved.
Many people spend their whole lives working and wanting treasure, tributes and trophies, said Bishop Vashti McKenzie, presiding prelate of the 10th Episcopal District of the AME Church. “However, Dr. Peggy Wall served her whole life preparing the next generation of leaders. She lives in the students she taught and those she encouraged and inspired. She lives in the hearts of those whose lives were saved under her prophetic preaching. She lives in the hearts of those who witnessed the work the Lord did in her and through her.”
Dr. White said every room she (Dr. Wall) entered was instantly transformed into a place of joy, peace and hope. “She leaves a testimony and witness of a woman of Kingdom Excellence.”
The boards and committees on which she served are too numerous to list; as are the “firsts” she accomplished in her total ministry. Most likely, her greatest pride would be the 11 ordained sons and daughters, who currently pastor or serve on ministerial staffs and the many other “spiritual children” for whom she prayed.
“As a spiritual daughter in the gospel of Jesus Christ, she shouldered with us the weighty visions of prophetic kingdom impact. We together with all the people of God celebrate her life,” the Bryants said. Dr. Wall was 76 when she died.
Services for Dr. Wall include:
3-6 p.m., July 16
6-8 p.m., July 16
St. John AME Church
810 N. Carrollton Avenue
Baltimore, Md. 21217
Home going Service
10-11 a.m., July 17
11 a.m., July 17
Empowerment Temple AME Church
4217 Primrose Avenue
Baltimore, Md. 21215