The most consistent thread in Old First’s outreach efforts lo, these last 45 years (since we moved back to 4th / Race) has been a focus on urban poverty, specifically, homelessness. The physical, economic, social, psychological, and spiritual injuries of poverty disrespect the image of God in which each person is created.
At Old First, we understand ministry is not only providing material services. We want to build relationships that help breakdown myths and misconceptions about homelessness and the distance from people who experience it. In some ways, the relationships with the people we serve and with the volunteers we bring to serve might be the most transformative aspect of our ministry.
For that reason, we are not resting secure with our present operations:
~ the Saturday Morning Breakfast and Clothing Cupboard,
~ the Winter Shelter for Homeless Men, and
~ our Urban Service Camps.
Instead, in conjunction with our Capital Campaign, we are asking how these ministries could develop, change, be replaced that we might serve more effectively and have a greater impact.
We are working through a process of discernment that is confirming our leading outreach mission goal continues to be service to the urban poor. In our listening sessions, the congregation has challenged itself to:
~ focus on efforts that will have the most transformative affect on individuals who are homeless;
~ changing the underlying causes of homeless in our city, alongside our efforts to ameliorate its effects;
~ strengthen our work in advocacy work around issues of poverty, as we have been growing to do through our membership in POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild).
~ add an Old First staff position dedicated to our Outreach Ministry.
Our volunteers from beyond this community are integral to our work. Are there mission goals or other insights about our outreach ministries that you want us to include in our discernment for the future? If so, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next stage will be to begin plotting steps to grow and evolve our ministry in concrete ways towards making a greater difference. Again, you all are partners in this ministry — if you have suggestions or ideas about how we should proceed, I’d love to hear from you at email@example.com.