The Church Sent Out
Part of the founding history of our denomination involved a radical change in direction for those who would be disciples of Jesus Christ. Whereas for some traditions the highest calling is to a cloistered community of prayer where God can be contemplated and prayed to all the time, the Reformers believed that the greatest calling was to serve God in the world, asking what God was doing to make and keep human life human. This is a question we ask constantly at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. As the largest Presbyterian Church within the city limits of Philadelphia, we have a special responsibility to use our resources for the future of the city as well as for the needs of those in the surrounding area.
Outreach is an apt word for this commitment of the church because it involves our active reaching out to the hungry and homeless, the working poor and those who fall through the cracks of the society’s social systems. We do not do this alone but usually join with other organizations that guide our outreach so that we can be as helpful as possible. Another aspect of outreach is education and advocacy. We cannot simply feed the hungry but must ask why we have ordered our common life such that people are hungry. Opportunities to travel to Harrisburg and knock on the doors of politicians or join in actions that draw attention to such things as illegal gun trafficking in the state are as important as serving dinner to 300 homeless men on the last Sunday of every month.
Our newest initiative is what we are calling “Communities for the Common Good.” These are small, intergenerational communities organized around our outreach in the areas of hunger, homelessness, health care, sustainability, public education and ending gun violence. Be sure and visit the page that tells you how to become a part of one of these communities. It is also a great way to meet and come to know people better.
Outreach Opportunities: Our Mission
Presbyterians bear witness to Jesus Christ, seeking to serve among the powerful and the powerless, in a ministry of love and compassion for the surrounding community and beyond. We seek to be faithful stewards of the gift of God’s creation through our benevolences to the mission of our denomination as well as other outreach programs.
The Social Witness Committee, on behalf of the congregation, contributes to a number of organizations and projects, and works to involve the congregation as volunteers in service to mission. The Committee meets the 4th Tuesday of each month (except July and August), at 7:30 pm in the Reception Room; all are welcome.
Our members serve as volunteer workers, board members, and advisors with Habitat for Humanity, the Community Cupboard (we receive food and financial contributions during worship on the first Sunday of the month), Central Presbyterian Church of Norristown – Hispanic Mission (we receive food and finacial contributions during worship on the second Sunday of the month), Our Brother’s Place, The John Gloucester House, AchieveAbility, Philadelphia Interfaith Housing Network (PIHN), Neighborhood Interfaith Movement (NIM), Project SHARE, and St. Catherine Laboure Clinic.
Every summer, the youth of PCCH participate in a mission trip. This year, they plan to travel to Portland, Oregon, to work with families in need in and around the area. Last year, they traveled to Belize to put in the foundation of a house of a local minister in an impoverished village. In previous years, the youth mission team has worked in New Mexico, South Carolina, Montana, in rural Florida to help rebuild hurricane damaged homes in an impoverished community, in Georgia, Maine, and West Virginia, each time gaining first hand experience working with the truly poor. For more information, please contact Youth Minister, Brian Russo .
PCCH is one of the founding members of the Germantown Avenue Crisis Ministry, a ministry to people in economic crisis. Our church is also on the first churches in the Presbytery to develop a strategy for the prevention of child abuse.
Other projects supported by PCCH through the Social Witness Committee, include, Chester Eastside Ministry, Covenant Network, Broad Street Ministries, the Interfaith Coalition for the General Welfare, Kirkwood Camp, the Medical Benevolence Foundation, Metropolitan Career Center, Philadelphia Presbyterian Homes at 58th Street, Presbyterian Children’s Village, the Samaritan Counseling Center, the Utility Emergency Services Adopt-A-Family Fund, and Wheels to the Woods.