2017 marks the 300th anniversary of the Presbytery of Philadelphia. I am still getting used to the frequent refrain in this part of the world where we are privileged to find the first university, the first library, the first mint, the first zoo, the first hospital, even the first volunteer fire company in the United States.
So it should be no surprise that Philadelphia is home, not just to the oldest Presbytery in the country, but some of the oldest Presbyterian congregations as well.
It is hard to imagine that just a few miles away from Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church there are churches twice as old as we are! For half the life of this Presbytery, our congregation didn’t even exist.
As a means of marking the legacy of the Presbytery and remembering that all congregations in the Presbytery are called most importantly to be about the mission of the church, the Presbytery leadership has set a challenge before us all to raise $300,000 to support the work of eight mission partners throughout greater Philadelphia.
We may be relatively young when it comes to membership in the Presbytery, but for almost all these mission partners (who will receive an equal share of all funds raised), we have been blessed with the opportunity as a community of faith to have been some of their earliest partners:
- Broad Street Ministry
- West Kensington Ministry
- The Common Place
- Camp Kirkwood
- Chester Eastside
- John Gloucester House
Funding will also be awarded to Rhawnhurst Turning Point and Restorative Justice and the Arts, which we have yet to have the opportunity to partner with as a church.
All these partners are focusing on two urgent areas of need – the school-to-prison pipeline and restorative justice.
Here is how they describe these needs:
What is the school-to-prison pipeline? Children and youth who live in contexts of poverty, demonstrate varied learning disabilities, lack access to quality education, and are vulnerable to potentially biased in-school disciplinary actions and are at an increased risk of incarceration as both juveniles and adults. Numerous ministries in our midst, to include those selected for this campaign, work to disrupt this pipeline by providing programs, services, and leadership opportunities for young people in communities and neighborhoods most at risk.
What is restorative justice? As individuals who have been previously incarcerated seek to re-enter society, various initiatives in the Presbytery of Philadelphia model God’s love and grace through services and programs to help individuals find employment, develop leadership skills, and reduce risks for recidivism (returning to prison).
You can find more information on the Presbytery’s website about how these partners will use 300th Anniversary funding to address these important issues in the Philadelphia area.
BMPC will be making a contribution to the 300th Anniversary Fund. You are invited to join us in that support by giving a financial gift. Your donation may be mailed to the church (or dropped in the offering plate) with 300th Anniversary noted on the memo line of your check.
We invite you to be a part of a wonderful celebration, not just of the past, but of the future of the Presbytery as well.