A Lighthouse Of Unconditional Love

Elder Gary Abdullah

A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Gary Abdullah graduated from Central High School and from Penn State in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. After a brief return to Philadelphia, he accepted the Lord in 1975, and felt called to settle in State College, working in the campus ministry at Unity Christian Ministries, International and getting married.

He has worked in a variety of writing and marketing positions at Penn State (Public Information, Continuing and Distance Education, WPSX-TV) since 1975. Since 1998, he has been a writer/editor in the College of Agricultural Science's Information Services. Prior to this, he was operations support for WPSU-FM, the local public radio station, where he anchored evening news and played late-night jazz.

A hobby playing the bass guitar developed into a ministry, and Abdullah has played for a variety of gospel choirs and church congregations, including the Ministries of Life Fellowship (1976), the Jerry Loyd Ensemble (1976), Unity Christian Ministries (1977), Unity Church of Jesus Christ (1982) and Penn State's United Soul Ensemble gospel choir (1983).  In 1987, he co-founded Ecclesiastes, a contemporary gospel ensemble that ministered in central and western Pennsylvania and Ohio through 1999. He also played with Urban Fusion, a State College-based jazz and fusion band, from 1990 through 2002, and was a founding member of the Holy Smoke Blues Band from 2004 through 2007. He continues to play with local Christian musical collectives, and works with the church's music and performance ministries, including the children's, youth, young adult and adult choirs, mime and dance troupes and individual singers and performers.

A commitment to supporting Godly efforts of young people as they grow and mature during their years at Penn State has led him to make himself available as a staff advisor with the United Soul Ensemble (since 1979) and to other student groups (including Alpha Nu Omega Christian Fraternity and Sorority, Alpha Omega Christian Steppers, Halal Christian dance troupe and several others). 

Abdullah has received a Distinguished Award from the National University Continuing Education Association (NUCEA) in 1992, an NUCEA Bronze Award in 1993, and the Continuing & Distance Education Vice President's Award for Diversity in 1994. He is a past-president of Penn State's Forum on Black Affairs, has co-chaired the University's 1996 Martin Luther King Commemorative Dinner, and has served on a number of University committees. He has taught as part a Protestant Sunday School teachers' team at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview since the mid- 1970s.

He has been married to Lydia since 1975, and has two children: G. Andre and Donna. His wife works for Penn State as a budget analyst.