Ministry of Outreach
WPMF has been involved in various ways in reaching out to the West Philadelphia community through friendships and projects.
These include intentional outreach to international students, supporting Habitat for Humanity, sponsoring a Meals on Wheels program, providing leadership and financial resources to Philadelphia Mennonite High School, being involved in Philadelphia Interfaith Action on city-wide lobbying efforts and projects, working on affordable housing with the Beaumount Initative, participating in Heeding God’s Call (gun violence prevention), and other initiatives.
Comegys Support Team
Complementing the work of Powerlinks, the Comegys Support Team seeks to engage our congregation in hands-on projects to benefit the B.B. Comegys School, a K-8 public school at 51st and Greenway.
In early 2016, WPMF entered into a partnership with Redemption Housing, a faith-based nonprofit that offers support to Philadelphians coming out of incarceration and homelessness. Redemption Housing works to guide its residents towards recovery, seeking to address cycles of recidivism through holistic programming and healthy relationships.
WPMF was the first congregation to support Redemption Housing, and many of our members have been involved in building a strong foundation for this startup nonprofit. A committee from WPMF meets together regularly to discuss the congregation’s involvement with Redemption Housing. They also plan for ways of advocating for returning citizens in the church and community.
In spring 2011, WPMF joined POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild), a faith-based community organizing group. Based on a national model created by PICO, this group is a newly formed network of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim congregations throughout Philadelphia working to create innovative solutions to the city’s most pressing issues.
WPMF was one of the first congregations to officially join POWER, but many others have joined since. A local leadership group from WPMF (nicknamed “powerlinks”) meets with Pastor Lorie monthly to discuss the congregation’s involvement with POWER on the local and city levels. In addition to supporting citywide actions, powerlinks hopes to engage the West Philadelphia community though forums, outreach, and other community events.
The People’s Baptist Food Pantry
For the past several years WPMF has partnered with The People’s Baptist Church to provide food through their pantry to the West Philadelphia community.
CrossRoads Community Center
WPMF partners with and supports the CrossRoads Community Center. Crossroads Community Center is located on N. 6th St in Philadelphia, PA in one of the most disenfranchised and historically underserved communities of any major US city. Crossroads Community Center is housed in two row homes in the Fairhill community of Philadelphia and serves the community in a variety of ways. Each week, Crossroads distributes 3,000 pounds of food to the community. The Center also provides a safe haven to teens, offers tutoring and culturally-relevant books, as well as, sports.
WPMF Peace Group
Planting and Watering the Seeds of Peace
The WPMF Peace Group was started in April 2006, and went on hiatus in 2010, by church members who wanted there to be an action group in the congregation for intentional and faithful peace witness in the community, as a way to see the shalom of the city (part of the WPMF Vision Prayer). We banded together to speak out and act for peace and nonviolence, and against militarism and war. The WPMF Peace Group met five to six times a year to discuss issues related to our purpose and the kinds of action/s we wanted to carry out as a group, as well as to encourage each other to be peacemakers in our own homes, work situations, and other settings of our lives. In this way, we hoped to plant and water the seeds of peace.
The WPMF Peace Group welcomed collaboration with other peace groups and organizations in West Philadelphia. Projects Included:
- “Seeking Direction After High School?” Directory of Alternatives to Military Service for Philadelphia Youth [Updated June 2012]
- Forum on Gun Violence and Our City” [April 26, 2008]: Featured speakers were: Dorothy Johnson-Speight (Mothers in Charge), Bryan Miller (CeaseFireNJ), and Fred Kauffman (Mennonite Central Committee East Coast)
- Speaker Event with Military Counseling Network [July 23, 2006]
- Tabling at neighborhood community events
- Educating people about conscientious objection. Visit The GI Rights Hotline or Mennonite Central Committee for information on your rights and your options.
To find out more information about peace efforts supported by Mennonite Church USA, click on the button below
“True Christians use neither worldly sword nor engage in war, since among them taking human life has ceased entirely, for we are no longer under the Old Covenant…. The Gospel and those who accept it are not to be protected with the sword, neither should they thus protect themselves.” -Swiss leader, Conrad Grebel
Mennonite Historical Roots
The Mennonite Church grew out of the religious Reformation in Europe, when the Anabaptists radically imitated the first century Christian church, by stating their allegiance to Jesus Christ, their adherence to the Scriptures as their guide, and their beliefs in baptism upon confession of faith (instead of being born into the church), discipleship, the priesthood of all believers, and nonresistance. They held to these beliefs in spite of severe persecution and even martyrdom.
About nonresistance, an early Swiss leader, Conrad Grebel, stated in 1524: “True Christians use neither worldly sword nor engage in war, since among them taking human life has ceased entirely, for we are no longer under the Old Covenant…. The Gospel and those who accept it are not to be protected with the sword, neither should they thus protect themselves.” The Dutchman, Menno Simons (upon whose name the denomination is based) wrote in 1550: “The regenerated do not go to war, nor engage in strife…. They are the children of peace who have beaten their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and know of no war…. Spears and swords of iron we leave to those who, alas, consider human blood and swine’s blood of well-nigh equal value.”
This principle of nonresistance, or biblical pacifism, has been practiced resolutely by the faith descendants of the Anabaptists, particularly in a steadfast stance of conscientious objection to war, and in working toward conflict resolution in troubled areas around the world. It is this principle that Mennonites continue to uphold in their current settings as they “seek peace and pursue it.”