Outreach

As members of Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, we have long been active in mission in our local community, our nation, and our world. Our purpose is to live out our faith and to participate in the Spirit’s continuing work of building God’s kingdom. We believe this is done best in relationship with others, extending ourselves outside the church doors to be neighbors, collaborators, and seekers of justice. Mission at SPC comes to life through a wide variety of ministries, including hands-on service to community building, extending hospitality to those who are homeless or displaced, and advocating for systemic change.

Local Mission Partners
Local Outreach
Global Outreach
Other Outreach
Global Mission Partners

Local Mission Partners

Our Mission Partners comprise a variety of local organizations that strive to address needs in the areas of hunger, homelessness, employment, education, displacement, and spiritual growth. At SPC, we seek to get to know our mission partners, and together we work to fulfill their goals by providing not only financial support, but also meaningful volunteer opportunities for our church membership. These hands-on efforts and gifts of our time and talent are every bit as important to our local mission partners as the funds that we contribute to their ministries.

A Better Chance House

A Better Chance (ABC) Strath Haven is a local chapter of the nationwide ABC program whose goal is to provide a high-quality secondary school education for low-income, minority students from distressed school districts. SPC became involved with ABC in 1975 and currently provides the house in which students reside while attending Strath Haven High School. Visit the website here

Broad Street Ministry

Broad Street Ministry (BSM), established in 2005, is an alternative church community that “cherishes creativity, fosters and nurtures artistic expression, extends inclusive hospitality, and works for a more just world through civic engagement.” Located on the Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia, BSM is at the intersection of Philadelphia’s most divergent populations and is a thriving multifaceted urban ministry that serves the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of their diverse community. Opportunities to serve as a volunteer at Broad Street Ministry are abundant. Specific donation requests and volunteer opportunities are publicized at SPC as they become known.

  • Broad Street MendersThis is a unique ministry organized by SPC within Broad Street Ministry. Two volunteers travel to Broad Street Ministry every Thursday, during their “Breaking Bread” meal at noon, to do whatever mending is needed, from tasks as small as sewing on a button to replacing zippers. Who knows? You may find your own spirituality mended as you repair worn clothing for others.
  • Material Donations There are some specific needs for materials as well: black or blue denim for patching; iron on patches; buttons, especially larger ones for coats; thread; needles; tape measures; scissors; pins; pin cushions; standard metal bobbins; small sewing kits; a divided plastic box for sorting buttons; a heavy-duty extension cord; and a power strip. Bring donations to the church office any time it is open.

Other volunteer opportunities can be found on Broad Street Ministry’s website. Visit the website here

Chester Eastside

Chester Eastside (CE) is a faith-based community resource and social justice advocate for at-risk children and adults in Chester. Over the years, SPC has developed a very close working relationship with CE and often partners with them in their ministries. SPC members regularly donate food, educational supplies, and other in-kind gifts, as well as volunteer hands-on labor. We also support CE’s Cultural Arts program, which provides professional instruction in the visual and performing arts to advance the creative, emotional, and intellectual growth of young people in Chester. In addition, our Alternative Christmas Shop has supported scholarships for the Chester Eastside’s summer day camp, and they are beneficiaries of SPC’s annual Advent Giving Tree, for which SPC members purchase gifts (often for children) for one or more of our local outreach partners.

Current volunteer opportunities include

  • Work with Children in the After-School Program. Four afternoons a week (Monday–Thursday), Chester Eastside offers tutoring, homework help, and enrichment programs to 30 Kindergarten through 7th grade elementary school children. Tutors are needed each afternoon between 4:00 and 5:30 pm.
  • Volunteer Servers. Every Monday and Wednesday, volunteers are needed from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm to set up and serve people for Chester Eastside’s food outreach program.
  • Pick Up Donated Produce from Philabundance. Drivers are needed Tuesday mornings from 8:15 to 9:00 am. Round trip is less than 2 miles. A truck or van is needed. Also, from time to time, other pickups are needed.

Those interested in volunteering should contact Reverend Zuline Wilkinson at 610-872-4812 or visit the Chester Eastside website. Visit the website here

Chester Charter School for the Arts

The Chester Charter School for the Arts (CCSA) is a local charter school committed to preparing students for a rigorous course of study in a competitive college, conservatory, technical school, or the military. CCSA believes in the benefits of Arts Integration, instruction that integrates content and skills from the arts (dance, music, theater, and the visual arts) with other core subjects. It is not surprising that many of CCSA’s students are accomplished singers and musicians, and SPC has been honored to host concert fundraisers to benefit the school.

Current volunteer opportunities include the Reading Beach Club. This is CCSA‘s signature volunteer reading program. Each trimester, for 6 weeks, more than 35 volunteer “storytellers” come to the school to read with kindergarten students at 3:00 pm on Fridays. Storytellers are typically paired with one or two students. Several SPCers serve regularly in this role, and there are plenty of opportunities for more volunteers!

Two exciting new areas of collaboration have emerged in 2017. First, CCSA and SPC high school youth have teamed up on a service project to design a revitalization for William Penn Park in Chester, the first landing spot for William Penn into the area. They will meet together throughout the year to discern the needs for completing the project, including fundraising, planning, and gathering materials. Of course, the best part will be the chance to build relationships that span neighborhoods and school districts. Second, Outreach is collaborating with CCSA to sponsor a student art exhibit at SPC this fall. This event is part of CCSA’s successful Exhibition Series that provides outstanding opportunities for children to extend their reach beyond Chester through a series of pop-up art shows and dance performances that help the children to become comfortable in a wide range of settings, building relationships across generational, racial and socio-economic barriers. Visit the website here

Delco Family Promise/Interfaith Hospitality Network

Delco Family Promise, also known as Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), brings the faith community together to help homeless families regain their housing, their independence, and their dignity. IHN is a partnership of congregations, including SPC, that provides shelter, meals, and support services to these families. SPC supports IHN by hosting the families in the church 4 weeks out of each year. As you can imagine, there are many opportunities to serve while our guests are here. Some volunteers provide dinners and fellowship each evening; others spend the night with our guests. Behind the scenes, needs include grocery shopping, set up and clean up, and laundry services. Visit the website here

Typical Host Week
IHN Questions & Answers

For more information, please contact our co-chairs ihn@swarthmorepres.org.

Frederick Douglass Christian School

The Frederick Douglass Christian School (FDCS) is a Christian-centered learning community designed to serve and empower inner-city families by providing quality education in a safe and supportive atmosphere. The school supports and works together with Christians in Chester to offer this alternative educational experience to develop future community leaders who hopefully will use their talents and abilities to stimulate social, spiritual, and economic growth within the city of Chester. FDCS also offers an After-School Program, where children can go each day to complete their homework, go to computer classes, play games in the gym, and exercise cooperative leadership in the program. Children at FDCS are beneficiaries of SPC’s annual Advent Giving Tree, where congregation members purchase gifts for one or more of our local outreach partners. Visit the website here

FUSE

SPC has joined pastors and community leaders from Swarthmore, Wallingford, and Chester as part of the Steering Committee for the Fellowship of Urban Suburban Exchange (FUSE). Intentionally interfaith and cross-cultural, FUSE’s mission is to enable relationship building across our neighboring communities. Visit the website here

Kirkwood-Brainerd Scholarship Fund

Kirkwood-Brainerd Camp, a joint mission of the Lehigh and Philadelphia Presbyteries, is a summer camp and conference center located just outside of Stroudsburg in the Poconos. The Kirkwood-Brainerd Camp Scholarship Fund provides summer camp scholarships to youth from Chester who otherwise would be financially unable to participate in a summer Christian overnight camping experience. Visit the website here

Partners in Ministry

Partners in Ministry (PIM) is a local consortium of churches that supports the Protestant Ministry of Swarthmore College, which is literally right in SPC’s backyard. The Rev. Joyce Tompkins, who serves as Religious Advisor, provides spiritual counseling to students and coordinates a program of worship and activities. The students meet weekly for scripture study and pizza (Pizza and Parables) and for a weekly ecumenical worship service. On the first Sunday of the month, they gather for Taizé worship and a potluck supper with members of local congregations.

The college provides space for the ministry but no financial support. PIM has a small endowment but depends heavily on support from local churches, friends, and alumni. In addition to our financial support, SPC has an on-going involvement: cookie nights during exams, student participation in our mission trips, and Sunday suppers twice a year for a Taizé service. The students enjoy the chance to be with persons outside the college community, especially families with children. Visit the website here

TM Thomas Learning Tree

The Learning Tree is an instructional daycare program for children age 2 ½ to 5½ who live in Chester. The goals of The Learning Tree are to give children a strong educational foundation, assist young parents with parenting skills, and develop in parents and children a strong sense of family and community. In addition to providing financial assistance, SPC members also volunteer by reading to the children. The Learning Tree is one of several local missions that are beneficiaries of SPC’s annual Advent Giving Tree. Each year congregation members place gifts for the children under our Giving Tree.

Current volunteer opportunities include:

  • Working with children in special areas of interestSpend time at The Learning Tree providing enrichment in topics of interest, for example yoga, arts & crafts, science, and gardening.

Those interested in volunteering should contact Ronda Hutchins at 610-874-3168 or ronda_hutchins@yahoo.com.

Local Outreach

Hunger Group

The Hunger Group at SPC is committed to helping to end hunger, both locally and globally. Their mission is to raise funds for projects that promote access to food for needy people, to gather volunteered food for targeted groups and occasions, to educate about hunger issues, and to advocate for policies that reduce hunger. All its financial resources come from offerings, gifts, and special endowed funds.

SPC members can address hunger directly in a variety of ways:

  • Bread for the World: Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. One way this is accomplished is through an Offering of Letters, in which members write personal letters and emails to Congress. Visit the website here
  • Philadelphia Presbytery: SPC also works with the Presbytery of Philadelphia‘s hunger initiatives through both direct volunteer work in local programs and advocacy. Visit the website here
  • Chester Eastside Ministries Food Pantry: Throughout the year, SPC collects nonperishable foods for weekly delivery to the food pantry at Chester Eastside. Donated food is collected in large bins in the Outreach Center in the Fellowship Hall lobby. Visit the website here
  • Mercy Casseroles: Frozen casseroles are collected in the Fellowship Hall kitchen freezer for distribution to Mercy Hospice, a women‘s shelter for victims of domestic abuse. Casserole pans and recipes (changed monthly) are available on a shelf near the church office and in the Outreach Center in the Fellowship Hall lobby. Visit the website here
  • CROP Hunger Walk: Typically held in October, our annual Communities Responding to Overcoming Poverty (CROP) Walk supports the ministry of Church World Service through grassroots hunger-fighting efforts of partners in more than 80 countries. Visit the website here
  • Turkey Day: Each year, the Hunger Group helms an effort to help Chester Eastside celebrate Thanksgiving with the same traditional fare we enjoy in our own homes. Our church is the sole sustainer of this effort; through our donations, typically more than 120 families can enjoy Thanksgiving dinners. In addition, we traditionally organize a “Pie Share” for coffee hour on this Sunday; the idea is to bring enough pies that we share some over morning coffee and have plenty to give to our friends at Chester Eastside. For those who cannot get to the store easily, cash donations to purchase additional turkeys are greatly appreciated. Visit the website here

The Hunger Group may be contacted at hunger@swarthmorepres.org. It is an open committee; all who are interested in addressing hunger are welcome to join. Typically, the Hunger Group meets on the first Sunday of the month.

Global Outreach

Alternative Christmas Shop (ACS)

Each Advent since 2004, SPC has created an “Alternative Christmas Shop” that offers opportunities to make affordable ($5 to $30) donations to specific charities in the name of friends and loved ones. Members of this committee meet all year round to find unique and worthwhile charities that are local, national, and even global. In past years, we have helped Philadelphia children learn how to cook healthy meals, supported programs that benefit suffering people in places such as Haiti and Syria, and even helped ailing coral reefs and threatened African elephants. Each year, we try to “give hope around the world” through the many projects we support.

New volunteers for this committee are always welcome! Contact acs@swarthmorepres.org to get involved.

Peacemaking Committee

The mission of our Peacemaking Committee is to take an active role in bringing peace and justice to reality. We believe that, together, we can make a positive difference in local, national and world affairs. As advocates for peace, our committee sponsors a variety of causes.

  • Israel–Palestine Mission Network: This network‘s mission is to engage, consolidate, nourish, and channel the energy in the Presbyterian Church (USA) toward the goal of a just peace in Israel and Palestine by facilitating education, promoting partnerships, and coordinating advocacy.
  • Special Programming: Periodically, special guests are invited by our Peacemaking committee to speak about important issues, such as gun safety, the refugee crises, Israel−Palestine relations, and other timely topics.
  • Taking a Stand Against Gun Violence: In recent years, the committee has advocated against gun violence by supporting the efforts of Heeding God‘s Call, a faith-based movement that has a chapter in Chester and elsewhere in Delaware County.
  • Education: The Peacemaking Committee maintains a library in the Study containing materials, newsletters, and handouts for those interested in the topic of peace around the world.
  • Financial Support: On selected Sundays, committee members sell West Bank fair trade olive oil and spices to members of the congregation during Fellowship Hour.
  • Committee Funding: The work of the Peacemaking Committee is funded in large part by the Peace and Global Witness Offering, a special offering created by PC(USA). For details, go to our Special Offerings page.

We welcome all who are interested in furthering the work of peace and who have new ideas to share. Meetings are held on the second Sunday of each month.

Peacemaking History at SPC

Refugee Welcome Team

In response to the current refugee crisis in Syria, SPC is working with Church World Service and has formed a Refugee Welcome Team. Once we have completed the team formation and orientation process SPC will be assigned a refugee family that has been placed locally. This new committee will be tasked with helping the family adapt to their new home, assisting with issues such as: housing, transportation, healthcare, cultural adjustment, schooling, and job placement. Our mission is to provide support and comfort during this difficult time of unrest and uncertainty. We expect the refugee family to arrive in early 2018, so we are currently recruiting members to join our welcome team.

For more information on any of these ministries, or to volunteer, please contact the Outreach Chair at outreach@swarthmorepres.org.

World Mission Committee

The purpose of SPC’s World Mission Committee (WMC) is to support and interpret the world mission of PC(USA) for our congregation. Its members seek to educate the congregation about Christian mission around the world, and to initiate and encourage direct financial support for selected mission co-workers. They also maintain continuing contact with these mission co-workers, and arrange educational opportunities for them to report to the congregation during home assignment. Finally, they seek opportunities for interested members of the congregation to visit our mission co-workers overseas as temporary volunteers on an assignment.

WMC functions as an arm of the Outreach Committee and reports to Session through that committee.

SPC members interested in joining the World Mission Committee, or looking for more information, should contact WMC at spcmission@swarthmorepres.org.

Other Outreach

Bear Hugs Ministry

One of the hallmarks of Presbyterian Women (PW) is their commitment to giving. In February of each year, PW works with Bears Hugs Ministry to collect stuffed bears that are given to children who are in families affected by traumatic experiences.

English Conversation with our Chinese Friends

All are invited, especially native English-speaking volunteers, to spend an hour at SPC making new friendships and English conversation with some of the Chinese women living in the area. We are able to provide this class because of our many dedicated SPC volunteers. Class topics are varied and designed to help with real-life situations.

Human Trafficking Awareness Group

One of our newer ministries, our Human Trafficking Awareness Group (HTAG), works to shed light on the underground world of human trafficking and assists organizations that help its victims. Periodically, SPC participates in fundraisers for Dawn’s Place, a residential program that provides housing, trauma recovery services, and vocational training to victims of sex trafficking. We also provide transportation for its residents to a local hair salon, because who doesn’t deserve to have a little beauty in their lives?

MLK Day of Service

SPC celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a Day of Service. Through the years, a variety of projects have provided intergenerational opportunities for reaching out to others and a way to honor the service of Dr. King. In 2017, we worked with our friends at Chester Charter School for the Arts to put up new hallway murals in support of the kindergarten/1st grade reading program.

Global Mission Partners

At SPC, our mission is to learn, build, teach, and grow with other cultures. We enthusiastically support the ministries and work of the PC(USA) missionaries, and have established relationships with selected mission co-workers from around the world.

Justin and Renée Sundberg, Nicaragua

Renée and Justin Sundberg serve on the Council of Evangelical Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD), which works to improve the lives of economically impoverished communities by promoting justice and peace. When groups from the United States visit Nicaragua to participate in the ministries of CEPAD, it is Justin and Renée who receive the visiting groups, coordinate their activities to reflect the priorities of CEPAD, set up in-country logistics, plan the educational program with delegation leaders, and lead reflections with people who visit. For the last decade, SPC has been honored to lead a delegation to Nicaragua on an every-other-year basis.

For more background on the Sundbergs and letters and pictures telling the stories of their work in the field, visit the PCUSA Mission Connections page: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/rev-renee-and-justin-sundberg/

John and Gwenda Fletcher, Democratic Republic of Congo

In January 2009, John and Gwenda Fletcher were appointed to serve with the Presbyterian Community of Congo (CPC) in the Kasai region of Democratic Republic of the Congo. The CPC came out of the efforts of the American Presbyterian Congo Mission, which existed from 1891 to 1970, and has been a fully autonomous church since 1961. The CPC serves a large part of the population in West and East Kasai through its ministries of evangelism, health, education, and development.

John works with the Christian Medical Institute of the Kasai (IMCK), helping the staff build and maintain a unified network of all the CPC’s mission hospitals. Although John’s primary surgical responsibilities are at the Good Shepherd Hospital, his broader charge is to work with the CPC medical director in support of the CPC medical program. He teaches medical residents, medical students, and nursing students at the IMCK and other mission hospitals. Gwenda fills a position that World Mission has long been recruiting for: education consultant. She works with the CPC, helping the church with teacher training, administration, and community involvement.

For more background on the Fletchers and to access letters and stories of their work in the field, visit the PCUSA Mission Connections page: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/john-and-gwenda-fletcher/

Carlton “Cobbie” and Dessa Quesada Palm, Philippines

Cobbie has served in the Philippines since 1989 and acts a mission facilitator for the church. He leads seminars for local church pastors throughout the Philippines, enhancing their skills in church development and revitalization. He also develops curriculum and trains churches in peace and reconciliation for the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform. Dessa coordinates the United Church of Christ in the Philipines’ (UCCP) Theater for Evangelism and Advocacy, which seeks to train church workers and members to creatively communicate the gospel and bear witness to the transformative role of a caring and compassionate church.

For more information on Cobbie and Dessa and to read their letters visit the PCUSA Mission Connections page: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/carlton-cobbie-palm-and-dessa-quesada-palm/

The Presbyterian Church (USA) website has great in-depth, organized information about Presbyterian mission co-workers around the globe. Visit The Presbyterian Church (USA) Worldwide page to learn more and to sign up for their monthly newsletters. Links to specific pages on the PC(USA) website where Swarthmore Presbyterian Church supports mission co-workers are highlighted below.

The Outreach Committee is currently recruiting new members. Please contact outreach@swarthmorepres.org to get involved.

If you are moved to provide financial support to any of our Outreach projects, please go to our Special Offerings page under the Give section of our website.

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Week-at-a-Glance

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