Creating Sanctuaries

Dr. Lillie M. Coley


Dr. Lillie Marie Coley was born to the beloved late James O. Coley, Sr. and Lillie Charlene Coley.

Dr. Coley has been proud to say she was born into one of the best Churches in the world, Zion Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pa under the leadership of the late Rev. Leon H. Sullivan. She feels combined with her home Church Zion, and her parents’ this has helped her to become the woman she is today. It is important for people to know where you come from because information brings revelation. ​Rev. Sullivan and Dr. Coley’s late mother Lillie C. Coley were good friends, and they worked together as community activist, and lead many marches for equality such as the Tastykake March in the 1970’s.

Rev. Sullivan was the true "Lion of Zion" he drew the most influential and professional African Americans during the early 70’s. Some programs initiated with Zion's Self-Help Movement were: a day care center, credit union, community center, employment agency, and Sullivan Principles as a response to apartheid in South Africa.

Other initiatives include Opportunities Industrial Centers (OIC), 10-36 Program, retirement homes and Progress Plaza. The first African American bank in 1992 called "United Bank of Philadelphia" evolved from one of Zion's members. Zion also settled its mortgage in record time by paying it off in ten years, and planted many schools and Churches in Africa.

Dr. Coley's highlight as a teenager was meeting Nelson Mandela in person when he visited Zion. From these experiences at Church which fully exercised her gifts, and seeing her mother stay active as a powerful political leader, and as a member of Board of Education propel Dr. Coley to have diligent hands to serve others through empowerment. Dr. Coley's mother focus was getting people employed and educated, and her father served 25 years in U.S. Marines. Dr. Coley also has a staggering amount of successful ministers and Pastors on her father's side of the family including Gospel Recording Artist Daryl Coley.

Unfortunately, Dr. Coley suffered the tragic death of her parents at the age of 11. Her father took her mother’s life and then his own, a murder-suicide, and as a result she feels obligated to help the community not to become victims of their circumstances. She also must carry on her mother’s legacy that was highly complemented in her life and death, for a small park was named in her memory.

Dr. Coley's mother used the breakfast table to empower her children with self-worth and self-identity. She also told her children that she was not going to see them when they got older, she foreknew this and was preparing them for her death. See "My Story" book for more details. Dr. Coley knows that sometimes good people can do bad things, and she loved both her parents immensely.

Dr. Coley became a Christian at age 9, and began ministry at 19. God did not waste any time with her life. From her experiences of her parents tragic death Dr. Coley has written a much sought after book entitled "My Story - Tragedy Turned To Opportunity" which deals with healing, forgiveness, and moving on. The subtitle of this book came from Rev. Sullivan who preached at her parent's eulogy. He charged her family to Turn Tragedy into Opportunity, but at the age of 11 she did not know how this was possible, but God knew, and twenty something years later My Story was born along with other materials. My Story has been translated into 6 languages, and to date she has 9 books published.

Dr. Coley has discussed her book, and other topics on several local and national TV shows including radio. Dr. Coley has been an active member in community service for over 25 years. Her areas of focus are National, but concentrated in New Jersey and Philadelphia. Combined with her community and Church experiences over the years she has worked with youth, singles, women's support groups and bring the Labor workforce community together with potential clients for jobs. She is an inspirational and motivational speaker, speaking at Churches and public facilities about empowerment, and self identity issues. Dr. Coley has the ability to reach and help all people regardless of their moral and social beliefs.

Dr. Coley, operated since conception Community Empowerment Organization (CEO) a non-profit organization which helps all people. Programs include Youth Empowerment Services (Y.E.S), MIRROR image for teenage girls and boys and C.O.O.L (Controlling Our Own Lives) for teenagers in school going through difficult family and economic issues. She is also associated with other businesses.

Dr. Coley completed a 1 year Theology and Ministry Program at Princeton Theological Seminary and she also completed a 15 month program at Rutgers University in Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Both colleges are located in NJ.

Dr. Coley has a B.S. in Computer Science and Math a double major from Temple University, a M.S. studies at Eastern College and Thomas Edison in Management Science with Thomas Edison being the awarding institution and Doctorate Studies at Philadelphia College of Bible(Pilot in NJ) and International Theological Seminary (ITS) with ITS being the awarding institution. Her last degree was completed by the age of thirty-three. She has been awarded several community awards.

When Dr. Coley reflects back, she cannot believe what God has done with her professional and spiritual life. She is so thankful, and by request she will construct a time table/milestones of her diligent hands over the years. It is designed for all, but mainly to inspire young people on what God can do with your entire life, even from a young age. God wants us to be successful in every area, and the sooner we start the better. She is still reaping blessings from seeds she has planted many years ago. See Diligent Hands for more information which will be coming soon.

Dr. Coley has proven that one does not have to be a victim of their circumstances but learn to rise above any situation, turning tragedy into opportunity through and by the Power of God’ love. She feels if she can do it, anybody can do it in spite of what they have been through and by God’s grace is still living her testimony. She is the godmother of several spiritual children who ages range from five to thirty-six.

Dr. Coley is also happy that as God has moved her in different directions throughout the years she is now under one the most anointed, and dynamic Pastors’ of today.