Martha A. Lang, pastor of Mt. Tabor African Methodist Episcopal Church

Lang: Served Mount Tabor AME Church for 31 years.
Lang: Served Mount Tabor AME Church for 31 years.
Posted: February 07, 2014

WHEN THE Rev. Martha A. Lang arrived to take over as pastor of Mount Tabor African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1983, she found a congregation of nine adults and six children.

Discouraged? That word was never in Martha Lang's vocabulary. Instead, she applied her vision and leadership qualities to attract new members.

In 1988, the congregation purchased the historic Ukrainian Baptist Church at 7th Street and Girard Avenue and moved Mount Tabor there from 22nd and Master streets.

Under her leadership, the church enrollment grew from those original 15 to more than 600, and she led the church to more than $1 million in improvements.

Martha A. Lang, who with her husband established a training center to teach Christian educators, and created a multimillion-dollar senior-housing project, died Jan. 30 of cancer. She was 71 and lived in the Yorktown section of North Philadelphia.

A proud moment for Martha and her husband, Elijah Larry Lang, was when they burned the church mortgage in January 2008 in a ceremony officiated by AME Bishop Richard F. Norris and retired Bishop Frank Curtis Cummings.

She and her husband, who died Sept. 19, 2011, founded the City Wide Interdenominational Christian Training Institute.

"Together they helped to establish a spirit of excellence in training Christian educators," her family said. "Many pastors, leaders and laypeople have come through the halls of CWICTI since its inception in 1967 at St. Matthew's African Methodist Episcopal Church."

Martha had long envisioned creating a senior-housing development, and on Jan. 10, 2009, the dream came true when Mount Tabor Cyber Village Senior Housing was dedicated. It is a $14 million, 56-unit wireless housing complex with a green roof next to the church.

She called it "the Miracle on 7th Street."

Martha was born to Jose LaDuna and Elizabeth DuBose in Mobile, Ala. She graduated from high school there and went on to study at Alabama State Teachers College and, after arriving in Philadelphia, Temple University.

She is a graduate of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Ministerial Institute, Community College of Philadelphia and the Center for Urban Theological Studies at Geneva College.

She married Larry Lang in 1965.

Martha served as pastor of Mount Tabor AME Church for 31 years, said to be the longest any woman had led the same church in the AME denomination.

She was the director of stewardship for the First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was elected as the first female ministerial delegate from Philadelphia to the General Conference of the African Methodist Church in 1992.

Martha was the first female pastor to host the 180th annual session of the Philadelphia Conference in 1996.

She also was secretary of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity.

"No hour was too early for her to come to anyone's rescue," her family said. "She was always willing to serve. Rev. Lang had a thirst for souls to be saved."

She is survived by two daughters, Yetta and Carolyn; three sons, Lebron, Nathaniel and Larrion; a sister, Alice Bradley; three brothers, Joseph, Victor and Percy LaDuna; 18 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.

Services: 5 p.m. Sunday at Mount Tabor AME Church, 961 N. 7th St. Friends may call at 1 p.m. Burial will be in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd.

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