An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


Husband, wife launch ‘Misfit Ministries’ in southwest Lancaster

Daniel and Jerona ‘Rona’ Pilgrim stand outside Misfit Ministries on Thursday, March, 7, 2024. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Misfit Ministries is just that, Pastor Daniel Pilgrim said: A place where people who haven’t fit in anywhere else can feel welcome.

The nondenominational ministry is for anyone who feels outcast or “church-hurt” or feels that God isn’t listening, he said. It aims to walk with people and help them overcome their troubles, no matter what they are.

He and his wife, Pastor Jerona “Rona” Pilgrim, launched Misfit Ministries this month, holding their first worship services at 602 St. Joseph St. in the SoWe neighborhood.

The corner storefront previously was home to Vintage Candy Shop. The Pilgrims, who live in Millersville, have converted it into a house of worship. Three rows of seating face a rostrum behind which are two large images of lions, representing the Lion of Judea. In a corner on one side, loudspeakers flank a drum kit and keyboard.

By design, the ambience blends hominess and church, the couple said.

“We want you to feel comfortable,” Daniel said. “We want you to feel like this is your home. … All are welcome in God’s house.”

“There’s no judging, no belittling, no mockery,” he said. “Nothing but love.”

The interior of Misfit Ministries, 602 St. Joseph St., Lancaster. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Rona, 42, said she views herself as a “prodigal daughter.” Her mother and grandmother were pastors, but she “separated from God” for a while before turning back and embracing her Christian faith anew.

Her time away from church helped shape the philosophy behind Misfit Ministries, she said. At many churches, she said, if you don’t conform to certain outward expectations, then you’re an outcast. Those are the people Misfit Ministries wants to reach, she said.

Daniel and Jerona Pilgrim

Daniel, who is 52, is frank about the life he led before his conversion. It included two stints in prison, one for aggravated assault, one for felony gun possession.

It was his arrest on the latter charge that was the turning point, he said: “I got tired of living the life I was living and getting the same results. Empty, going nowhere.”

He gave his life to Jesus Christ on Oct. 21, 2010, he said and “I haven’t looked back since.”

“I am that walking story,” he said. “From crime to Christ, from hood to holy.”

Their ministry is overseen by Apostle Wade Duncan, leader of Shekinah Glory-Doing Things God’s Way in Coatesville.

On March 2, Duncan served as lead officiant at a consecration and installation service commemorating the launch of the Pilgrims’ ministry. It was held at the Father, Son & Holy Ghost Church on Howard Avenue in Lancaster, where the couple previously served.

Apostle Wade Duncan, center right, conducts Daniel and Jerona Pilgrim’s consecration service on March 2, 2024. (Source: Provided)

During the ceremony, Rona was ordained as a pastor. Daniel has been a pastor since 2015; Rona was ordained as a minister in 2018.

“They are on fire for the Lord, I can tell you that,” said Bishop Deborah Webb, who with her husband, Pastor Walter Webb, leads the church. The Pilgrims energetically pursued street ministry and youth ministry, she said, and are outgoing and outspoken.

Duncan concurred, saying: “I believe they are beginning great work.”

The couple said they’re eager to form partnerships and have reached out to the SoWe neighborhood organization and Dave Costarella’s Hands Up Partners. They have existing relationships with a number of counselors and peer support programs.

The Pilgrims with Bishop Deborah Webb, left, and Pastor Walter Webb, right. (Source: Provided)

They pay for Misfit Ministries out of their own pockets, they said. Daniel is a forklift operator and materials handler; Rona is a warehouse supervisor.

Their lease at 602 St. Joseph St. is for two years. They believe they’ll outgrow the space before then — they would like to find warehouse space that could host not only the church but affiliated programs. Another idea: Buy a new home and convert their existing one into a recovery house.

God “is giving a vision, so we’re trusting Him,” Daniel said. “He’ll make it happen.”