In the early 1990's Bishop Donald O. Clay, Jr., then Senior Pastor of an affluent and thriving Pittsburgh church, became acutely aware of the rising state of despair and hopelessness gripping too many Pittsburgh neighborhoods and taking a terrible toll upon families through rising gang violence, the prevalence of drugs and other debilitating vices, and the many other signs of decay and destruction eating away at the fiber of families, the cornerstone of our communities.
A personal tragedy hit Bishop Clay
family when his
nephew became the victim of gang violence and it was this incident that God used to reveal to Bishop Clay his
true calling for the rebuilding of the community and a passion to meet the disenfranchised where they live.
With a handful of like-minded men and the slogan "Willing To Die For You", Bishop Clay went into the streets of Pittsburgh each night amidst the violence and chaos to bring words of peace, love, reconciliation, and hope to the young men of Pittsburgh.
This was the beginning of Operation Nehemiah, a holistic ministry dedicated to rebuilding the walls of our community by providing a diverse scope of services designed to restore the community one life, one family, one brick at a time.
As God continued to unfold His awesome plan to Bishop Clay, Imani Christian Academy was born in the home of his sister.
Providing a safe, loving, nurturing environment of learning to community children became the passion of the small staff of teachers and volunteers.
From these humble beginnings in 1993, Imani Christian Academy
has grown to a K-12 school with nearly 200 students and an eleven year track record of revealing, refining, and releasing purpose in more than 60 graduates.
Later, Abundant Beginnings Childcare and Early Learning Center
, a state licensed facility, was added to the school to care for infants and pre-school children.
While ministering to the needs of the youth and their families, Bishop Clay prayerfully came to the revelation that a new ministry had been birthed that was to minister aggressively to the holistic needs of the community.
In the spring of 1994 Bishop Clay yielded to the unctioning of the Holy Spirit by forming Petra International Ministries.
Equipped with a God given vision and a diverse and devoted following of believers, Bishop Clay began holding worship services in schools, borrowed church facilities, and other rented facilities while searching for a permanent home.
Knowing that God's vision for the restoration of His people included economic stability and financial independence, Bishop Clay resolved to purchase the former East Hills Shopping Center . This would be the economic catalyst to provide employment, career development, entrepreneurial opportunities, and financial health to blighted and neglected communities.
God answered the prayers of Bishop Clay and the entire Petra family in June, 1999 when through a benevolent Christian benefactor, Operation Nehemiah purchased the former East Hills Shopping Center and embarked upon a plan to develop the site into a thriving retail center.
Petra International Ministries
, with a membership of more than 2,000 is known as a house of worship and genuine Christian hospitality.
Bishop Clay remains faithful to the evolving vision God has given him for this house.