Instructions for two-choice Sunday, 10.23: Church Without Walls or alternative worship in the Sanctuary

Instructions for two-choice Sunday, 10.23: Church Without Walls or alternative worship in the Sanctuary


The Revitalization Task Force is encouraging Old Firsters to try something new this Sunday, 10.23:

We will be going on a “field trip” to Port Richmond, to do a clean-up day outside, on the grounds around the city’s Samuel Recreation Center.

Yes, this is a Sunday morning invitation to do something in lieu of formal worship. Or maybe it’s just worshiping in another form (much as Abraham Heschel said that when he marched with Dr. King, he feet were praying).

The Samuel Playground and Recreation Center is on Gaul Street (though its address is on Tioga):
2501 E. Tioga
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Google map

We will gather there at 10 am (please note — this is a new, later time. We think we can get our work done in about an hour!)

There is plenty of street parking at the site.

If anyone needs a ride, we are organizing carpooling from church (please let Mindy or Michael in the church office know if you are going to come to Old First for transportation to Port Richmond).

We are asking everyone to bring something to share for breakfast. We need the strength… for us to share food together (that’s worshipful in and of itself, but also as physical nourishment before our service work.

But we have also invited neighbors around the Samuel Recreation Center and Playground to join us for breakfast (and the clean up afterwards if they wish). How great would it be if we really got to meet some of the people who live up there. And let’s show them what kind of cooks we are down here at 4th and Race.

Then we will get to work– weeding, picking up litter, cleaning up the playground. It’s actually a beautiful sight– a big, open grassy field on the side of a mixed industrial and residential neighborhood. The weather is supposed to be a beautiful, cool, fall day. Wear work clothes!

You may also bring tools you may need– work gloves, rakes, push brooms, a hoe for weeding. The Revitalization Task Force is bringing the basics (so not having tools is no excuse!)

You may also bring your children. This site will be ok for all ages. There is a playground and a big open field. Frisbees and balls and other play equipment are welcome. The children may of course work with us. But, if they wish, they may also play.

When we get done, Michael has organized a time of reflection for us. We will talk one on one, but switching partners — sort of like speed faith sharing, but standing up — as we consider:

~ what we learned…
~ how service affects or changes us…
~ what we gain from being out in a neighborhood like Port Richmond…
~ what the experience of serving together on a Sunday morning makes us hope for… and
~ where we find or miss God in all this.

We will also pray for the mission of the Rec Center, the people of the Port Richmond neighborhood and our fellow Old Firsters back at the Sanctuary.

We will then clean up and pack up. We expect to be finished by or even before noon.

A group of us are already planning to go to brunch afterwards. Everyone who wants to may join us (but everyone is paying for him or herself!) There’s an IHOP in the neighborhood, but maybe we will find something more
local– ethnic Polish breakfast maybe???


For those who do not wish to go on the work Sunday, there will be worship in the Sanctuary. Michael has asked a colleague, the Rev. Gary Halstead, to lead worship. Gary is doing interim work now, but Michael knows him from when they both served on Conference staffs. As well as serving local churches, Gary was responsible for the youth and camp programs of the Penn Southeast Conference UCC.

Michael has suggested that Gary need not follow our Old First traditions too closely. It’s a Sunday where we’re trying new things. Julie and Tim will be up in Port Richmond, so Gary will also be leading music with his guitar. Renaldo will be the liturgist/lector helping Gary. Maybe worship will feel more like a camp meeting, with a more informal aspect.

Please remember that there won’t be a Hospitality Team serving, so it becomes the whole congregation’s responsibility to welcome guests.

Pretty much the rest of the morning’s programming has been cancelled– no Sunday School or Adult Forum, no Fellowship Hour. Just a simple time together for worship. The people in Port Richmond will have you in their prayers; please keep them and their service in yours. And welcome Rev. Gary into our fellowship.