Being the ministry
The wealthy and powerful have a responsibility to help others, Golderer said, and he challenges the affluent members of his congregation and Broad Street’s suburban partners to use their talents, skills and influence to do just that.
The process spreads
Golderer and others think the Broad Street approach can be applied at new and existing congregations alike.
“This is the lab, the R&D,” he said. The outcomes will be different at other churches, “but the process will be the same of discerning what we’re going to do, then doing it.”
Broad Street trains disciples to spread its methodology -- and staff its operations -- through a revolving group of ecumenical seminarian interns.
While many interns have come from nearby Princeton Theological Seminary, Golderer wants to draw from across the country and denominations for a new residential “Seminarian Immersion Program." With the help of partner churches, Broad Street has renovated a nearby house for the interns and is taking applications for the 2009-10 class.
One of the first Princeton interns, Emily Wilmarth, is applying what she learned at Broad Street as a pastoral resident at Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. Her experience in Philadelphia during the summer of 2007 awakened Wilmarth to what it means to be a church in the city, she said.
Wilmarth’s new church sits across the street from the Georgia state legislature, but its members have all kinds of concerns, interests and needs that aren’t being considered there, she said. In response, she’s building a ministry to help make her congregants’ voices heard in the seat of power.
And, as Broad Street reaches maturity, Golderer is starting to apply his process at Arch Street Presbyterian a few blocks away. That church shares a wall with the city’s tallest building, the Comcast Center, and is two blocks from Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services.
“We have the most vulnerable people and the most powerful, and the church is in between,” Golderer said. “We need to tie those two things together.”
He challenges his new congregation and all existing churches with a scenario: If Moses knocked on the door and said their church has to close, “Who will come to say, ‘You can’t close this church,’ who isn’t a member? Who will say the work of the church is too important, its gifts too real, too life-giving?”
There’s no mystery as to how those questions would be answered at Broad Street Ministry, said Sgro, of the Bethesda Project.
Broad Street’s communion line is one of the most diverse in the country, “if not the planet,” Sgro said, “and every one of those people would stand up and say ‘I need Broad Street Ministry.’ The community needs them.”
Finally, a cross
Broad Street’s congregation is now mature enough for its cross, one that recognizes its many sins, but also its capacity for great beauty, Golderer said.
“It reminds us to see sin for what it is, and also see redemption for what it is,” he said.
A year ago, Broad Street’s leadership team met with a metalworker to discuss their cross. The themes that arose were beauty and rawness, grit and honesty, willingness to share, excitement, suffering and hardship, hope and goodness. The ironworker then spent months at Broad Street, talking to people about what they thought their cross should be.
Five community members recently reviewed the designs. The frontrunner: a 12-foot sculpture that would be suspended in the sanctuary. Fashioned out of stainless steel with translucent inserts, it’s full of twists and turns and irregularities.
It’s modern and unconventional, like Broad Street itself.
(Image courtesy of Bob Phillips of Phillips Metal)