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[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ looks_like=”h2″ accent=”false” class=”fancy”]Living Out Love: Philadelphia[/x_custom_headline][x_line style=”border-top-width: 1px;”][cs_text class=”cs-ta-justify”]Philadelphia – what comes to mind when you think of this historic city? Is it the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall, or the taste of an authentic Philly cheesesteak? The city is a big, beautiful melting pot of cultures, people, and history. It was here that the framework for freedom was laid out and a new nation was born. In a city whose name means “brotherly love” and inclusion, one might find it surprising to learn this is not utopia. Like many cities around the country, there is a disparity of resources between the rich and poor, as well as a large population of homeless citizens. Enter Broad Street Ministry (BSM).

Since 2005, BSM has lived out their motto of “radical hospitality” serving the city’s poor and homeless through food and health service programs.
[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/2″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”thumbnail” src=”https://myersparkpres.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Broad_Street_Ministry.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][cs_text class=”cs-ta-center”]Broad Street Ministry[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/2″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text class=”cs-ta-justify”]For a week, the middle school youth of MPPC, along with friends from First United Presbyterian, worked hand in hand with BSM to minister with neighbors all across Philadelphia. For many of us, it was our first mission trip, and we had no idea what to expect, but from the moment we got off the train, we were anxious and excited to begin this journey together. That anticipation increased as we walked through downtown Philly and approached the bright red doors of BSM. The ministry operates out of a beautiful building, formerly a traditional Presbyterian church, but now a welcoming sanctuary for the underserved in the community. After settling into our room in the church’s large Sunday school space and eating dinner, we met the staff of BSM for orientation.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text class=”cs-ta-justify”]Our leader, Devin, explained to us the purpose of BSM is to treat all guests with radical hospitality, as most of the community they serve are experiencing poverty or homelessness. These people she said are often treated unkindly; as if they are invisible to the world. At BSM, they make sure everyone is listened to and has a voice. As a group, we made a covenant with Devin and her team to practice solidarity during the week, a term that was new to many of us. This covenant of solidarity meant that we would do our best to connect with the people we met in Philly and truly understand and learn from them.

[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text class=”cs-ta-justify”]During the week, we were separated into groups named after neighborhoods where we would serve (Blackbottom, Swampoodle, and Fishtown just to name a few) and traveled throughout the city to work with BSM’s mission partners. Our work ranged from harvesting food in community gardens, working with children at a church daycare program, to even volunteering at an HIV/AIDS resource clinic. As we learned the city, we noticed the lack of grocery stores or food shops. Devin explained to us that often in urban low-income areas there are virtually no grocery stores within walking distance, creating a “food desert.” People have to travel across town to buy fresh, healthy foods for their families, and many cannot afford to do so.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/2″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”thumbnail” src=”https://myersparkpres.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/IMG_5024.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][cs_text class=”cs-ta-center”]Stripping chairs for repainting at BSM[/cs_text][x_image type=”thumbnail” src=”http://myersparkpres.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/IMG_5083-e1499461559101.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][cs_text class=”cs-ta-center”]My group and I[/cs_text][/cs_column][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/2″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text class=”cs-ta-justify”]Many of our youth found this shocking in comparison to how easy it is to access food in their communities. They could not believe that, for some, food is a luxury. Our nightly worship services discussed these issues, as well as issues concerning social justice. We experienced worship services hosted by LGBTQ+ members of Broad Street centering around celebrating pride, community, and diversity in addition to discussions about the Kingdom of God and spreading his love through our experiences and privilege. [/cs_text][x_image type=”thumbnail” src=”http://myersparkpres.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/SD24352.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=””][cs_text class=”cs-ta-center”]Worshipping at BSM[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” separator_top_type=”none” separator_top_height=”50px” separator_top_angle_point=”50″ separator_bottom_type=”none” separator_bottom_height=”50px” separator_bottom_angle_point=”50″ style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text class=”cs-ta-justify”]Some of the most impactful moments took place not at the mission sites, but back at BSM at meal time–“breaking bread,” as it’s called. Each day, a different group of us would act as hosts during meals serving food and interacting with guests. It was during these moments that we made the most connections with our friends in Philly. Many people we encountered came from all walks of life and from all around the country. They had stories to tell that nobody had ever asked to hear. By sitting down to share a meal, we were able to share our journeys with one another, and slowly our differences faded away. Even though BSM helps those when they need it most, inside those walls differences like race, religion, or class don’t matter; we are all just people and all God’s children.

We learned so much by sharing our stories with each other this week. By the closing worship service on Thursday night, we had made new friends and learned so much more about Philadelphia and its people. When the time came to read closing prayers from our different groups, almost all of them went out to people we had met that week. It was amazing to hear the youth praying for people that had been strangers to them only days before. Watching them work hard throughout the week to make a difference in those new friend’s community was a true testament to God’s love in our world. By the time we came home, we truly understood our covenant of solidarity.
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