Joseph Ginyard, 89, minister who worked with needy families

Posted: May 16, 2014

JOSEPH GINYARD, one of the founders and pastor of Calvary Gospel Chapel, took his ministry far beyond the chapel doors.

He made four trips to Kenya, taking Bibles, medicine and other supplies, as well as the word of God, to remote villages.

He toured Eastern Europe with a Word of Life Fellowship group, preaching and taking religious programs to countries that were formerly under the yoke of communism.

But most of his work was in Philadelphia, where he founded Wise Choice Ministries, providing transitional residences for needy families, and found ways to serve his congregation, especially the young members, whom he enjoyed mentoring and showing how to live the good life.

Brother Joe, as he was known, a 40-year veteran of the Postal Service and a Marine in World War II and Korea, died Monday of heart failure. He was 89 and living in Mullica Hill, N.J., but had lived most of his life in West Philadelphia.

"He was humble in spirit, but was grace in action," his family said.

Joseph was a proud Marine and trained at the segregated Montford Point base in Jacksonville, N.C.

The Marines were reluctant to welcome African-Americans into their ranks, but were forced to after President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order banning segregation in defense industries and the military.

The Marines set up a training camp with less-than-ideal conditions. The barracks were rundown and infested with bugs and snakes, but eager young men like Joseph Ginyard went there to learn to be good Marines.

Joe remembered one tough drill sergeant named Cecil B. Moore, who became a lawyer, civil-rights firebrand and city councilman in Philadelphia.

After training, Joe was shipped to the South Pacific, where he was part of the invasions of islands like Guadalcanal and Guam. Black troops weren't allowed to fight, but he served in various support activities.

The surviving Montford Point Marines were belatedly honored in a ceremony in 2012 in Washington and given the Congressional Gold Medal.

"Their legacy of courage and perseverance is an inspiration to all Marines," said Gen. James F. Amos, Marine commandant, in presenting the medals to some 400 survivors.

Joe was still in the Marine Corps when the Korean War began in 1950, but did not go overseas.

He was born in Philadelphia, the third of the six children of Mortie Ginyard and Bessie McMichael Ginyard. He graduated from Northeast High School and entered the Marines.

He later studied at the Philadelphia Naval Electronics School, Manna Bible Institute and the Philadelphia College of the Bible and Pastoral Counseling. He received an honorary doctorate in theology from Manna Bible College in North Carolina.

He married Cecilia M. Jackson in 1948.

"His greatest achievement, he would say, was in guiding and instructing young people to be godly, responsible and productive human beings," his family said.

"Not only did he use his gifts and talents as a pastor to minister to his congregation, but to the world at large, seven days a week, and beyond the church doors."

His wife died in 2004. He is survived by two daughters, Jo-Ann Hayward and Elaine Barley; a son, the Rev. Philip Ginyard; seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by another son, Martin Ginyard.

Services: 10 a.m. Monday at Christian Stronghold Church, 4701 Lancaster Ave. Friends may call at 9 a.m. An earlier viewing will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday at Calvary Gospel Chapel, 4121 W. Girard Ave. Burial will be at Ivy Hill Cemetery.

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