On Sunday, July 7, ten youth and two adults set forth on a remarkable journey to Philadelphia. They plunged into a week of work, worship, and learning with Broad Street Ministry, an inclusive Christian community in the heart of Center City Philadelphia. Our youth were joined by other inquiring teenagers from Maryland and Western Kentucky. Photos on this page show them at both work and play.
Youth from all three groups were mixed into smaller groups named for Philadelphia neighborhoods such as Kensington, Fishtown, and Bella Vista. During the day, these “neighborhood” groups traveled from Broad Street by public transportation (a new experience for some!) to work with social agencies, community groups, and grassroots organizations who are doing great work to improve the lives of their fellow Philadelphians. In the evening, the entire group of about fifty youth, adult leaders, and Broad Street staff gathered to interview the youth about the work the group had done during the day and engage in an active worship service including lively, creative, and participatory contemporary music and scripture lessons based on the story of Jesus and the Woman of Samaria (John 4). Following such full days, we were more than ready to sleep on our air mattresses and sleeping bags to the gentle breeze of fans (no air conditioning!) in the old Sunday school room.
We had many memorable experiences during our daily work trips. Here are a few:
- “Vendor for a Day” — street selling a newspaper that tells the stories of homeless people and supports programs for the homeless.
- A “Reality Tour” of the Kensington neighborhood revealing harsh conditions in that community.
- Working with “Ray of Hope” to clean up neglected lots and gardens in city neighborhoods.
- Selecting and sending books to men and women in jail with limited or no access to prison libraries.
- Working the garden of a drug rehabilitation program and meeting people who are recovering from their addictions.
The Broad Street experience is meant to help young people think theologically about poverty and inequality, broaden understanding of urban life, and broaden ideas about service and about what a church can be. It accomplished all of these things for us. As one youth wrote after we got home, “I’ve changed into someone who no longer takes most things for granted.”
The youth who bravely embarked on the Broad Street adventure were Ethan, Olivia, Carlisle, Elena, Paul, Tristan, Andrew, Eli, Megan, and Lydia. They were joined by adult leaders Peter and Leslie. All deserve a shout-out for their hard work and openness to a very new experience! We encourage you to talk with them about their time at Broad Street.
Finally, thanks to Jenn Frayer-Griggs, our youth minister, who arranged the trip while finishing her studies and giving birth to a son!