Yet another team of young people from upper New York state visited Southwest last week to better appreciate our inner-city life and to grow spiritually. Through work projects, bible study, fellowship, field trips, discussion, and prayer their eyes were opened to the realities of life in our city.
The youth were based for meetings, meals, and boarding at The Common Place (TCP) community center at 58th Street and Chester Avenue. One activity involved some strenuous labor as they and some new friends from Southwest dug tree stumps out of the back yard of TCP off Cecil Street.
On their way toward spiritual and social maturity, they participated in nightly “family style” bible study at TCP. The idea that over 80 family members of two local churches – of all ages – would come together to
for supper and fellowship and then wrestle with passages from scripture was a new one for them. Under the guidance of two pastors Rev. Chris Holland of New Spirit Community Church and Rev. Cean James of Grace Christian Fellowship, the emphasis was on participation both in the plenary assembly and in breakout groups by age.
“The experience of families studying bible verses and praying together was awesome!” according to one of the visitors from Tonawanda, NY. “We just sat back and listened to the wisdom and personal witness to the spirit of Christ being shared!”
The young people learned at lunch time, too. By lot, they were assigned to three tables designated: “Rich” (20 percent of the world); “Middle Class” (30 percent of the world); and “Poor” (50 percent of the world). The poor were served plain rice and drank water, the middle-class diners got roasted toast, baked beans; and the rich table featured lasagna and iced tea.
TCP staff recounted their upbringing in various parts of the city as did the young visitors. One of the latter mentioned that “Mom had to stop work until my little sister could go into daycare at about 2½. Then, she could work again, and our economic situation got gradually better… we could begin shopping at better stores.”
The TCP staff included Tyhara Bridgett who hosted the lunch with the help of Gene Burke, Hannah Johnson prepared the meal. The Attica group was led by pastors Laurie and Vanessa Adams.
The Common Place hosts a variety of programs including out-of-school-time and Saturday morning enrichment programs for children and youth, instruction for both instrumental and choral music, and monthly an open “Common Worship and Common Meal” on Sundays, and a popular men’s breakfast and fellowship on the third Saturdays.
To learn more about what’s happening at The Common Place, visit www.thecommonplacephilly.org or