What a wonderful time of year this is! Summer has come into full swing with tourist visiting, festivals around the city emerging and importantly Urban Service Camp groups coming to visit Old First. This past week, we had the pleasure of hosting Christ United Church of Christ (Christ UCC), who travelled from Orrville, Ohio, staying with us from June 18th-June 24th.
During their stay I had the opportunity to work with them and Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers. Steve J., President of Wissahickon Restoration Volunteers, guided us through the Wissahickon Valley, where we were introduced to the history of the site known as “Historic RittenhouseTown”. Otherwise known as the site of the city’s first paper mill and the homestead of statesman and friend of Thomas Jefferson, John Rittenhouse.
Outside of touring historic the site, we spent the remaining part of the day, working on the grounds. Cutting away at invasive plants, learning about indigenous plant life and trees as well as hiking through the valley.
Later the same day, I along with John Owens, had the pleasure of dinning with Christ UCC. While taking part in a homemade meal, we learned more about the group, their church, their experiences at different service sites as well as their take on inequality, injustice and homelessness in Philadelphia.
As part of their experience, I asked that one member of the group write a brief snapshot about their personal take on the experience as an Urban Service Camper to share with you — the congregation. Below are his words:
Reflection From Urban Service Camp Participant: Ty Macintyre Duxbury of Christ United Church of Christ
Philadelphia has been a great experience for everyone involved in our mission trip, considering that each of us is in a different walk of life, our time here has touched everyone in a unique way.
From cleaning a room at the Sunday Morning Breakfast mission – for them to hold clinics for the homeless, to serving breakfast at Broad Street Ministry. From boxing food at the SHARE food bank, to working in Wissahickon Park with various weeding chores.
Wherever we went, whatever we did, it was not hard for us to see how the great people of Philadelphia would benefit. The wonderful people at Old First Reformed Church were more than generous and made us feel right at home in this beautiful city. All of us were glad to be apart of this trip and we could definitely feel God’s presence with us throughout the trip.
Old First, I look forward to continuing to share with you the great works of our Outreach Ministries, like Urban Service Camps. It’s always wonderful for us as a whole, to share our history and values with others, as we find that ultimately – in these transformative ministries we find that we share more commonalities with others than not.
–Alesha Thomas, Outreach Coordinator