Tully Memorial Extends Hospitality to New Immigrants through ESL Program

Tully3“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”  (Acts 2:4) There is hardly a more straight-forward manner in which this gift of the Holy Spirit is evidenced than in the ministry of Tully Memorial Presbyterian Church.  Located in Sharon Hill, Tully Memorial is truly a multi-cultural congregation, with Christians from Ghana, Togo, Benin, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Jamaica, and Cameroon worshipping together with African-Americans and Caucasians.  Led by the vision and leadership of Rev. Dr. Komlan Ezunkpe, Sunday morning services are spoken in Ewe, French, and English.

With assistance from the Presbytery’s Covenant Fund, this congregation offers the EnglishtullyESL as a Second Language (ESL) program to bridge cultures and establish better communication.  Initially offered to members within the congregation, quickly the need to open the program to the neighborhood became evident.  Tully Memorial’s program now offers computer skills, classes on wellness (including good eating habits in a new country), and health screenings.  The ESL program has enabled several participants to pass their citizenship test.

Tully1Tully Memorial was first established in 1908 to serve the booming Sharon Hill neighborhood.  After a peak of 800 members in the 1960’s, the congregation began to decline.  As the surrounding area welcomed new African immigrants, the Ewe (pronounced ay-way) Immigrant Faith Community was housed in Tully Memorial’s building in 2009.

In a bold act of courage and faith, the two congregations: Tully Memorial and Ewe Immigrant Faith Community joined together as one body in 2013.  One hundred years after the initial organization of the congregation, the faithful Presbyterians of Sharon Hill once again sought to minister to its neighbors, incorporating new languages and new traditions into worship and other areas of church life.

The Presbytery of Philadelphia, through its support of this congregation through the Covenant Fund, rejoices in its faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that uplifts God’s great diversity of language and culture.  In a world that often finds such differences to be barriers, Tully Memorial upholds these gifts to be embraced and celebrated.  As Rev. Dr. Ezunkpe reflects, through the ESL program “the immigrants have been equipped and empowered to overcome fear and communicate better.  Some of them have joined the church’s leadership; reading on Sundays, and joining the session.  This allows us to grow altogether spiritually on our discipleship and leadership journey.  We are able to share our various gifts and learn of the wider variety of ways in which the image of God is reflected in all of God’s children.”  Thanks be to God for this expression of the Kingdom in Sharon Hill!CovConnLink

Abington Celebrates 300 Years of Faithful Witness

Tent Service 2Anniversaries afford us the opportunity to celebrate accomplishments, reflect on the past, and hope for the future.  Abington Presbyterian Church is joyfully recognizing 300 years of faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ this year.  The highlight of their celebration took place on June 8, 2014, Pentecost Sunday, when they held an “Old Fashioned Tent Revival Service” on the grounds of the College Settlement Camp in Horsham, PA.

What better way to honor the gift of the Holy Spirit and the consecration of the Church than by worshipping together with the ten congregations that trace their beginnings to Abington Presbyterian Church.  Leading worship was Pastor, Rev. Brent Eelman, along with Pastors and members of partner congregations:  Ms. Debbie Spade (Carmel), tent_choirRev. James Eby (Grace), Rev. James Farrell (Oreland), Rev. Dr. Janel Dixon (Cedar Park), Rev. Adan Mairena (West Kensington Ministry), Rev. Daniel Reid (Roslyn), and Rev. David Preisendanz (Willow Grove).  The morning’s preacher was famous evangelist, Rev. George Whitefield himself, dressed in full garb of the time, enacted by Rev. Bill Jackson, former Associate Pastor at Abington.  Rev. George Whitefield preached twice at Abington in 1739 and 1740, during “The Great Awakening”.

The service included liturgy from a 1612 worship book, and concluded with the hymn “Remember, Renew, Resound” written by Rev. Brent Eelman and Mr. John Sall (Director of Music Ministries at Abington) to commemorate the anniversary. As one Abington member, Don Brooks claimed, “I could not have been more proud to be a member of APC and it was great to share our many wonderful elements of our church with our partner churches.”  The service was followed by a picnic lunch and time of fellowship for the members and leaders of all the partner churches in attendance.

tent service 4While many of these connections to partner churches have faded into history because they are now independent, self-sufficient congregations, Abington Presbyterian Church maintains its desire to reach outside its walls to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  They are currently partnering with West Kensington Ministry to be a faithful presence in the lives of those living in West Kensington.  Together with their Pastor, Rev. Adan Mairena, the members of Abington are continuing their long-standing tradition of spreading God’s love and mercy out into the world.

philieslogowebIf you attend the Phillies game July 11, you will hear over 200 members of Abington singing our national anthem; another way they are celebrating this milestone anniversary.  As part of the Presbytery of Philadelphia, let us all join in giving thanks for the faithful witness of Abington Presbyterian Church and their 300-year-old commitment to spreading the Church of Jesus Christ into the world.


Beacon Featured in 1001 Worshipping Communities

BeaconPic4VideoBeacon is excited to share a video of their ministry.  

Please click on the image to view the video, and continue to pray for their mission and life in the community.







Birthed from a joint mission venture between Rhawnhurst Presbyterian Church and Redemption Lutheran Church, Turning Point is “providing a center for youth and young adults where they can learn, grow, serve, and have fun in a safe environment supported by caring volunteers and Christian staff.”

Located on Castor Avenue, Turning Point recently gained its own 501(c)3 status after opening its doors in 2011, and offers programs for youth including homework help, art classes, weekend and summer programs, and a bullying education initiative.

Monies from the Presbytery’s Covenant Fund, along with visionary leadership from Rhawnhurst’s Pastor, Rev. Keith McClain, and the Board have enabled Turning Point to be a beacon of hope and promise where all 6th – 12th graders are welcome.  All programs and classes are offered free of charge.  Members of Rhawnhurst Presbyterian Church view Turning Point as their authentic way to be Church in the world, reaching beyond their walls and their membership to show the love and nurture of Christ to their neighbors. Being involved in Turning Point’s inception and on-going ministry has allowed Rhawnhurst Presbyterian Church to be more faithfully engaged in its neighborhood, CovCon6JunRhawnTP1reaching people who otherwise would not enter their church building.

Named one of the “Zones of Peace” by the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia in 2012, youth from over 25 different schools attend their programs.  The Presbytery’s Covenant Fund, church contributions, and individual donations enable the ministry to employ a full-time Director, Cheryl Lafferty and two part-time staff members.   Additionally, over 30 volunteers invest their time and energy at Turning Point, the majority of whom 27.

The Homework Help and Drop-In Center is open three days a week providing a quiet placeCovCon6junRhawntp3 to study, internet access, printer capabilities, and help with assignments.
The Summer Arts Program, led by Hoffman Art Program Manager, Dawn Friederich, offers a variety of 6-week courses including drama, knitting, singing, and journalism, taught by educated and experienced volunteers.
The Weekend Program, organized by Andrew Smith, provides different activities for youth such as Bible studies, service outreach projects, and movie nights.

As we celebrate the season of Pentecost and the consecration of the Church, Turning Point is an inspiration to the Presbytery of Philadelphia to venture outward, beyond sanctuary walls.  It is there where we realize the Holy Spirit continues to break down human barriers of language, race, ethnicity, class, and creed, allowing us to understand one another and engage in life-changing and life-giving ministry together in new and creative ways.

To learn more about Rhawnhurst Turning Point, visit their website: www.rhawnhurstturningpoint.com and Facebook Page.

Broad Street Ministry and Chambers-Wylie

At a time when the economic and social challenges continue to plague our cities, it is important that the church, through our congregations and the Presbytery of Philadelphia, seek new ways to bring Gospel hope to places where despair and hopelessness reside. It is important that we support church and ministry models that embrace social entrepreneurship and embody the Gospel message by engaging in ministries that are innovative, relevant, and incarnational.

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In 2005 the Chambers-Wylie Memorial Presbyterian Church building sat on South Broad Street in Philadelphia, shuttered and forlorn. Yet in the shadows of this darkened building, a bustling and vibrant arts scene was springing up along Broad Street.  The pastors of Bryn Mawr, First Philadelphia, Old Pine, First Germantown, Chestnut Hill, and Wayne had a vision for a ministry with and for this lively arts community.  Led by Rev. Bill Golderer, Broad Street Ministry (BSM) was born in May of that year, worshipping once monthly on Sunday evenings.

No one then could have imagined what has emerged from that once darkened building. bsmlogoWhat began with the conviction and prayerful hope of six churches and an urban pastor has grown into a ministry supported financially by sixteen congregations and the Presbytery. Monthly worship services soon became weekly. BSM began a monthly meal called “No Barriers Dinner,” referred to as “Philadelphia’s most dangerous dinner party,” which grew into community meals called “Breaking Bread” that now serve more than 1,000 guests each week.

Hospitality has always been a core value for BSM. Over the years, BSM has adapted its programs and services to meet the spiritual needs of the arts community while also meeting the spiritual and physical needs of “at risk” populations.  BSM remains a “broad-minded Christian community,” with Presbyterian roots “that cherishes creativity, [and] fosters and nurtures artistic expression,” as is evident in its rollicking worship services. Its expansion has also led to the formation of a 501c(3) – which allows BSM to attract the support of many prominent Philadelphia foundations, businesses, and non-profits.

Yet ironically, BSM’s presence at Chambers-Wylie has kept it from doing even more. Since 2005 the Trustees of the Presbytery have worked with BSM’s Board to maintain the building and endorse BSM’s capital improvement initiatives, such as adding a commercial grade kitchen. As part of its commitment, the Presbytery has invested nearly $1 million, including over $500,000 in utilities and building maintenance and $279,500 in capital expenditures and grants, for BSM.  Both the Trustees and the BSM Board recognized that for BSM to gain greater investment and support for its ministries, they needed to demonstrate permanency to grant-makers and philanthropic groups.  In response, the Trustees and the BSM Board began exploring ways to turn over the Chambers-Wylie building to Broad Street Ministry.

BSMBirthdayPosterGIF (2)As Broad Street Ministry approaches its 9th Birthday, BSM and the Presbytery prepare to celebrate another milestone. On May 20th, the Presbytery’s Trustees and Leadership Collegium will celebrate and affirm Broad Street Ministry by recommending that the Presbytery sell the Chambers-Wylie building and facilities to BSM for $1. This agreement will allow BSM to continue flourishing in response to the social and economic challenges of the inner city. And, it will allow the Presbytery to give new life to an old building, and be a witness to God’s reign on one of the now most prominent streets in Philadelphia.

As a Presbytery, we continue to be open to the power of God’s Spirit breaking into our midst and calling us forth into new ways of being and doing ministry. As a covenant community, we are committed to equipping the saints – empowering and supporting our churches – to fully exhibit the ministry of hospitality, compassion, and grace of Jesus Christ in imaginative ways.

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From the Art Table to the Communion Table: A Story from Beacon

“God wants us to have a home.”-Faith Statement written by Mary, age 9

Beacon4As pastors who identify as pastors in all circumstances, both around the art table and leading worship, the Co-Directors of Beacon have found people’s faith stories tend to fall into the laps of the listening.

One such story is Mary. Mary is now 9 years old, but started coming to Beacon when she was 6. Even though she has not been raised in the church, she has come to know the teachers of the program as pastors, and she has found Beacon to be a safe space for her and other children of the neighborhood.Beacon3

One day Mary came into the art program early, looking sad. She began to tell Rev. Rohrer a story of her cousin, who was confined to a wheel chair from cerebral palsy. Mary talked about how people made fun of him, she was going to visit him soon, and she didn’t know what to say to help.

As the story began to wind down, Rev. Rohrer realized as a pastor, she should say something in response; a word of comfort or clarity. But instead of asking her opinion, Mary finished by saying, “So will you pray for me? And for him? That people would stop being mean and that I would know what to say?”

Beacon2“I was struck by her grasp of what role a pastor should play, and by the fact she knew before I did the best thing to do was pray,” Rev. Rohrer said.

Soon after, Mary began attending worship by herself, participating in a faith-basics class, and was baptized on Easter. “In the whole scheme, our conversation months ago seems like a simple thing. But then I think of all that had to happen and how many people it took to create that space for Mary. I think of all the people who give quietly, drop off paper towels, or donate general operating funds online. I think of all those who pray for Beacon. When I remember the generosity of our partners, I get a sense of her importance, of all our importance in the kingdom of God. And I remember how grateful I am that it is among these people I find my home as well.”Beacon1

Beacon is a New Church Development of the Presbytery of Philadelphia, PCUSA, built on the idea the arts could be used to invite people into relationship in a specifically transformative way. This idea takes shape through secular children’s programs, open community events, and worship services. Located in Kensington, Beacon is committed to serving as a place of Gospel hope in an area of the city that has experienced economic and social marginalization. Beacon’s journey is being supported by the partnering congregations of this presbytery, including Arch Street, Overbrook, Bridesburg, Bryn Mawr, Grace Jenkintown, Wayne, Forest Grove, and Calvary Wyncote, as well as the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the PCUSA, the Synod of the Trinity and the Presbytery of Philadelphia’s Covenant Fund.

This Saturday, the Presbytery will be celebrating several major milestones with Beacon, including the ordination of Beacon Co-Director Rebecca Blake as a teaching elder. The celebration, “Beacon Empowered: A Celebration of Community Creativity”, will include worship, the unveiling of the Lights on Cumberland Street Project, and a lawn party with opportunities to make art and share stories. The ordination service begins at 11am, and Beacon is located at 2364 E Cumberland Street.beacon empowered web 2







 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: . . . I know your works.  Look, I have set before you an open door; which no one is able to shut.” Revelation 3:7, 8

OpenDoor3Many churches lament the absence of young adults. Yet the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and the East Falls Presbyterian Church, along with support from the Presbytery’s Covenant Fund, are partnering to engage young people where they are — on campus at Drexel University.

Part of the University’s Office for Spiritual and Religious Life, Open Door Christian Community is an ecumenical campus ministry, led by Rev. Sarah Colwill (Validated Ministry), along with Rev. Mindy Huffstetler (First, Phila),
who serves as the President of the board. Situated at the center of campus, the ministry is able to reach the mission field of 10,000 students, encouraging them to grow (and sometimes just begin) their discipleship of Jesus Christ.

OpenDoor4As recipients of the Covenant Fund, the ministry has been able to expand its connections to local churches and nurture that important relationship between traditional and non-traditional ministries.  Students from Open Door joined with the mission committee of the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia to work together on a Habitat for Humanity project in the city. First Church’s congregation members and staff occasionally worship with Open Door during their weekly Tuesday night worship services. First Church’s congregation members also provide meals for the students and engage in fellowship.

East Falls Presbyterian Church is also supportive of Open Door, with their pastor Rev. Katherine Rick-Miller leading worship several times, and congregants welcoming students into their church. Forming such relationships has enabled these churches to reach beyond their walls in ministry, as well as strengthen the students’ connection with traditional church communities.  Members of both First Church and East Falls have expressed how meaningful these experiences are, not just as an outreach from their church, but as a way to engage in ministry with young adults where the Spirit is at work.

The Covenant Fund grant has also enabled these students to attend a winter retreat at Kirkwood Camp, where they discussed relationships and intimacy.  During a time when young adults are on their own, often for the first time, Open Door offers a voice of love and self-respect among the many cultural voices clamoring for their attention.  This retreat as well as other fellowship events, encourages these young adults to deepen their relationship with God through Jesus Christ, live into the calling God has placed upon their hearts, and work for the love and reconciliation of the world.

Open Door’s unique situation on Drexel’s campus allows the church to be present in their lives, offering the love of God, the mercy of Jesus Christ, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to transform their lives as they seek out the path for their future.



“The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” John 3:8

1stkfreemealsThe First Presbyterian Church in (historic) Kensington celebrates 200 years this weekend. Anniversaries are typically a time to look back – and the church will certainly be giving thanks and praise to God as they share fond memories.

But First Pres is also celebrating the exciting things the Holy Spirit is doing right at this very moment, and looking to the future as new community connections invigorate their ministry in Fishtown.
With help from the Presbytery of Philadelphia’s Covenant Fund, the church now offers free community meals to the public, once a month.  The church is excited about the possibility of bringing together residents from all generations of Fishtown to share fellowship over a meal.

In addition to these meals, the church has expanded its food cupboard by connecting with the New Kensington CDC (a non-profit community organization) to help spread to the word to those in need in the community.
First Pres and the NKCDC staff realize their role as key stakeholders in the community and began conversations about unmet needs in the community, and how they might work together to address them.

From this cooperation, a new First Pres ministry is emerging: 1stPresKen Ca children’s clothing closet. Many families in the neighborhood rely upon thrift stores to fill their children’s wardrobes. Unfortunately though, thrift store prices aren’t accessible to some neighborhood families.

In response, the church will be collecting new or lightly used children’s clothing and then offering them to the public, at no cost, during “shopping days.”
Plans for opening the children’s clothing closet are being finalized. When it does open: families will be welcomed to “shop” for children’s clothing on Saturday mornings.

With more engagement with the community, discovering the community’s needs and matching the church’s gifts and abilities to meet these needs, the members at First Pres Kensington are keeping their ears open to listen to where the Holy Spirit will lead them in the upcoming 200 years.