A New Kairos in West Philly: Our Collaborative Church (Re)Plant

Listen to the conversation in the latest episode of PresbySpeak, available on iTunes, and on SoundCloud.

Twenty years ago, our Presbytery planted the seeds to explore new possibilities of a collaborative worshipping community in West Philadelphia. As some would say, though, kairos was not then.

In 2015, the conversation was reconvened in light of a new series of events, which ultimately led to the formation of an Administrative Commission and the calling of a new and full-time pastor, Rev. Eustacia Moffett Marshall, to shepherd what is known today as the West Philadelphia Presbyterian Partnership. A new name is in the waiting.

Kairos, however, is not. Kairos is now, as the Spirit is awakening something beautiful in West Philly through the collaborative efforts of leaders from the former First African Presbyterian Church, Calvin Presbyterian Church, Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, and the Presbytery of Philadelphia. What follows is the redacted transcript of a conversation with Rev. Eustacia Moffett Marshall, Rev. Ruth Faith Santana-Grace (Executive Presbyter), Rev. Kevin Porter (Stated Clerk), and Rev. Greg Klimovitz (Associate Presbyter). We are humbled and excited about this shared venture and invite the faithful of our Presbytery to continue to lift in prayer this historical and faithfully revitalized witness.

Living Stones: Leveraging History to Spark a New Thing

Greg Klimovitz: We are really excited to be seated around this table and tell the story of what is happening in West Philly. It is a good story. It is one of our better stories right now. Eustacia, if you could share a little bit about the present reality of the West Philly Presbyterian Partnership.

Eustacia Moffett Marshal: The West Philadelphia Presbyterian Partnership is a marriage of three congregations: Calvin Presbyterian Church, First African Presbyterian Church, and The Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church. All of which have a combined history of 492 years. First African, the first historic black Presbyterian witness in our denomination, was founded in 1807. Calvin was founded in 1902. Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church was actually a merger of two churches, one of which is West Park Presbyterian Church, which was founded in 1859…So we have a tremendous task. We have three churches…coming together to do a new thing. I am here to help facilitate and to help dream with an amazing group of called people.

This past Sunday was a milestone moment. We voted to move the process to create a formal new entity so we would be petitioning our administrative commission to draft the legal documents necessary to become one body. We also voted to transfer membership from the three entities into the West Philadelphia Presbyterian Partnership. And we voted to transfer our assets into the West Philadelphia Presbyterian Partnership. So it was a special day. It was a tremendous day for us, as we look forward to moving together with the spirit and do what God is doing.

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