On July 28th on a rainy Sunday afternoon, four young people and two adults from Willow Grove Presbyterian Church drove to Philadelphia to Broad Street Ministry with open hands and open hearts, open to the ways God would use them to serve and change some of their perceptions about people who are homeless. They joined two other youth groups, Crossroads Methodist from Ashburn, VA and Trinity Lutheran from Landsdale, PA, for a week of serving, learning, and growing in the Youth Initiative program. The group of 40 youth and adults travelled by foot, bus, subway and train to volunteer and explore the realities of poverty in a large urban setting.
It was a powerful week for the group as they rose early each day and then travelled to different parts of the city. Rev. Cynthia Cochran-Carney, along with youth group members Tasha and Nikki Segulin, served on the Fishtown Team. They worked at New Jerusalem Now, a residential faith community in Northern Philly, for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Their team also worked at Breaking Bread Community Meal on Tuesday, serving dinner and providing personal care items to over 300 people who are currently homeless at Broad Street Ministry, located across from the Kimmel Arts Center.
Adult youth group leader Bill Segulin and youth Josh Cochran-Carney and Oliver Joseph served on the Mill Creek Team. Their sites included weeding an urban garden, Beacon Summer Day Arts Camp for children, and St. John's Center for Homeless Men noon lunch program.
Rev. Cynthia Cochran-Carney, pastor of Willow Grove Church and mission trip participant said, "One of the most important lessons of the week was understanding the call to "radical hospitality," as Broad Street Ministry invites people to eat together around tables, rather than expecting people to wait in line to be fed. It is the difference between feeding and dining, between charity and community." For more about BSM, see their website www.broadstreetministry.org
The mission trip was partially funded by the proceeds from the Church Rummage Sale held on June 1. The church raised over $500 for the youth group mission trip and $500 for the hosting homeless families ministry operated under Family Promise of Union County. The congregation also donated over 200 new pairs of men's socks that were distributed through the clothes closet to guests at the community meal at Broad Street Ministry.
Willow Grove Presbyterian Church is an active Christian congregation committed spiritual growth for all ages, service to neighbors near and far, and intergenerational friendships. All worship services and events are open to the public. For more information, contact the church office at 908-232-5678 or check our website www.willowgrovechurch.org. The church is located at 1961 Raritan Road, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076 near the soutside soccer field and firehouse off South Martine Ave.