Fall Fest 2023

Saturday, October 28, 2023 from 9:30am – 3:00pm at Abington Presbyterian Church


In response to the growing awareness and desire to respond to the challenges of the world around us, this year’s Fall Fest will be focused on our Public Witness and Response. With workshops led by our community partners and a keynote with the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, we’ll explore how we might respond to issues around gun violence, natural disasters, and refugees. Participants will come away with concrete ideas to take back to their congregations on ways to respond and get involved.

KEYNOTE: Rev. Jimmie Ray Hawkins serves as the Director of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC.  He is a tri-chair of the Washington Interreligious Staff Community and the Heads of Washington Offices. He has chaired several interfaith /ecumenical and non-profit boards. He is engaged with the Poor People’s Campaign and participated in a direct action at the Supreme Court in 2017. His book, Unbroken and Unbowed: A History of Black Protest in America, published by Westminster John Knox Press, came out in February 2022.

2023 Fall Fest details:
  • Workshops: You can select one of the workshops for the morning, and one for the afternoon.
  • Lunch will be provided for $10.00/per person. You may pay in advance by check (payable to the Presbytery of Philadelphia with Fall Fest in the memo line) or at the door by check or credit card.
  • Literature and workshop materials will be available at the event.


On the Forefront of Local Response: How can my church respond in a timely manner to disasters? This workshop will explore how faith communities and other volunteer agencies respond to crises including the relationship between Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and local organizations. Led by Julia Mezo, co-chair of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, or SEPA VOAD, learn about how various non-profits and churches are coordinated when a disaster strikes our area.  Discover how your congregation can support response efforts in our own communities.

Advocacy as a Spiritual Discipline: Responding to the call of Matthew 25, how do we engage in the public sphere to proclaim Christ’s values? This workshop will explore the work of the denomination offices that advocate for statements of the General Assembly as well as discuss the importance of exploring advocacy as a spiritual discipline.  Led by the day’s keynote speaker, Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins, Director of the PCUSA Advocacy Offices, hear more about the work and witness taking place in our Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C, as well as our Office at the United Nations in New York City.

Turning Swords into Plowshares: How do we transform the gun culture of Philadelphia? The violence that has occurred in our community is not just because of a prevalence of guns, but because we are not investing in people and communities. This workshop features Rev. Gregory Holston, Senior Advisor for Policy and Advocacy at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and chair of the Anti-Gun Violence committee of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity who helped create the 57 Blocks Initiative to invest in communities experiencing high rates of gun violence.  Come and hear about the work that is taking place to help reduce gun violence as well as how we as a community of faith can join efforts to bring resources into communities that have long been neglected.

Welcoming the Sojourner:  As immigration patterns change around the world, how do communities of faith respond to the needs of all of God’s children? This workshop will feature members of the New Sanctuary Movement, which seeks to care for and strengthen new immigrants in our midst, especially those seeking asylum traveling north.  Come and hear about the work that is presently occurring in the Philadelphia region to help families relocate and rebuild their lives. More importantly, find out how we can join these efforts.