Arch Street Presbyterian Church is a congregation with a rich and storied history both within the narrative of Philadelphia and the arc of Presbyterian Church History.
It is time to re-imagine our congregational identity and activity in a way that is compelling to those who work and live in our midst. To say Philadelphia is a city of diversity is to state the obvious but it is also to state a challenge to Christian congregations. Congregations have had little success breaking open fiercely maintained encampments that span ideologies/theologies, class, race, age and sexual orientation.
It is time for the legacy we inherited to be honored as we forge ahead in revitalizing of our worship, life, and work. The ASPC sanctuary and manse are architectural jewels located at the epicenter of the new corporate landscape of Center City Philadelphia—buildings in which thousands of people labor in work that is fulfilling and work that can be dispiriting. As well, the congregation is sandwiched between two emerging neighborhoods into which a wide diversity of people, especially young families, have moved in the last five years.
It is time for ASPC to forge a meaningful and mutual partnership with BSM where each can learn from the other, complement the other, and propel each other as they press out in different kingdom-informed directions. ASPC is also within walking distance from one of the city’s most exciting congregational revitalization efforts. Broad Street Ministry is a thought-leader and generative force around intractable social problems with deep scriptural resonance including homelessness, hunger, healthcare disparities, accessible arts and culture and so on.
It is time for another church to break down societal barriers as it gathers to worship, work and learn together. The gestalt of our times is one of vocational restlessness. Palpable is the tension that exists because of disparities in opportunity, the lack of work that is deeply satisfying, the sense of isolation experienced while being surrounded by hordes of people, and the yielding to pressure to remain busy at the expense of attending to the spiritual self.
It is time for ASPC to call people together to examine these distortions — to invite them to stop when appropriate, to redirect their energy and focus, to call out to the steadfast God who awaits our return to his presence and his priorities.