Minister Vernetta Burger- Connecting Churches and her Community

Ms. Vernetta Burger is a Minister at Heart of Worship Restoration Center, located in the Olney area of Greater Philadelphia. Heart of Worship has been an integral part of Easter Outreach since 2016. This year they are planning to distribute over 700 meals to the 19120 zip code. Vernetta’s role over the last three years has been to oversee and coordinate the partner churches- this year, Heart of Worship will be partnering with Oasis City Church, Zion Fellowship Tabernacle Church, Upper Room Missionary Baptist Church, Triumphant Faith International Fellowship, and New Life Church Philadelphia as well as two new churches that joined just this year: Genesis Baptist Church and New Freedom. Vernetta also reaches out to the community to make sure they know about Easter Outreach and how to request an Easter Meal.

Over the last couple years, Vernetta has seen how her community has become more aware of Easter Outreach, allowing them to provide more meals and help more families in the area. As Easter Outreach has grown there have also been more opportunities to be involved, for fellowship, and for partnership with other churches. Easter Outreach has been a platform for both outreach and connection during the Easter season. Last year, one of the changes Vernetta was most excited about was the addition of fresh fruits and veggies to each of the boxes, “It was a great way to say, ‘Hey, we are here for you’”.

Minister Vernetta’s two favorite components of Easter Outreach are connecting with residents and helping other churches connect with the people in their surrounding neighborhoods. It is wonderful to hear the gratefulness of the residents and be able to share Christ’s love with them. But in addition to that, working with other churches to break the apprehension of reaching out to their communities and help them get to that ‘lightbulb moment’ of the Christian life beyond the normal Sunday is a wonderful experience.

In the future, Vernetta hopes that Easter Outreach will continue to serve more people and that it can become a household name- an event that the whole community can look forward to year after year. “We want our community to know they can count on us- even after Resurrection Sunday. We and them to know they have a resource- we are here for them throughout the year”.

Partner Spotlight: Cityreach Church

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By: Mark Novales, Pastor at Cityreach

My wife, 2 boys and I planted Cityreach Church about 5 years ago at Northeast High School in Philadelphia with a handful of amazing people in the Fall of 2013. After 2 years at the High School, we began to look, pray, and dream about a building.  We began praying for a new right before the Easter season. We found an old, overpriced, fixer upper theater in the Tacony section of the city. Our first outreach event in Tacony section of the city was held outside of a locked theater that we didn’t own (yet). We were trying to think of ways to start connecting with local residents when I received a call from Vito Baldini, who offered us some free non-perishable meals. We jumped on the opportunity and were able to give out over 50 meals from the stairs of a location we believed would one day be our own. What an amazing way to begin our journey with our local community! People called neighbors or asked us to walk the meal to families who couldn’t carry the box. It was a wonderful way to make initial contact with our community.

The next year led to us giving out over 300 meals from the inside of a building we now owned! This time, thanks to EASTER OUTREACH (EO), several other volunteers showed up to help us with the packing of meals.  It was even more amazing than our first year.

Last year we were able to share over 600 meals and fresh produce with local churches and neighbors.  We ask that our neighbors literally step into our church to receive their meal, a free Bible, prayer, coffee, and a snack.  The response was so huge that we had to turn people away on Easter because of lack of space. This year we are expecting even more of a response from our church volunteers, partners, and local community members.  We have added a 3rd worship service this year and will be inviting our new guest to attend the 1 PM worship service.  There have been so many blessings that have occurred while we have been a part of EO. Here are a few examples:

  1. Year 1: EO was magnificent way for a new church plant with very little resources to interact with our new community

  2. Year 2: We learned that many of our community members had either never been prayed for before or hadn’t been prayed for in many years. EO gives us the opportunity to see people receive prayer, cry if they feel the need, and experience the love of Jesus

  3. Year 3: We were able to share the EO blessing with other local churches nearby. Our community already is in expectation of this years EO.

We are eternally grateful for EO and are looking forward to many more years of partnership with Liberti church and blessing they are for our entire city!  May the Lord multiply his favor, power, peace and love over Liberti church, churches in the region, our city, and our local residents, In Jesus name!


A Vision for Mission: Biblical Theological Seminary

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By: Ryan Egli
Director of Enrollment Management and Marketing
at Biblical Theological Seminary

Biblical Theological Seminary is very excited to be an official sponsor of Easter Outreach. The belief that one meal can make a difference resonates very deeply with who we are. We also believe that one meal can open doors and connect neighbors. We believe that one act of kindness in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus is a powerful thing. There are three basic reasons why we wanted to partner with Easter Outreach.

1. Because Easter Outreach is missional.

In 2003, then President Dr. Dave Dunbar, led Biblical Seminary’s faculty, staff, and board of trustees to adopt a new vision and mission for the seminary. It was generously orthodox in theological grounding and missional in focus. For 15 years, this has been our mission: to prepare missional leaders who incarnate the story of Jesus with humility and authenticity and who communicate the story with fidelity to Scripture, appreciation of the Christian tradition, and sensitivity to the needs and aspirations of postmodern culture.

At Biblical Seminary, our faculty and staff understand that missions impact every aspect of our institution. Our innovative curriculum is geared specifically to prepare women and men to engage our post-Christian culture. To be missional means that we love the Bible and are committed to reading it with a penetrating honesty and with an ear to what it teaches about urban ministry, poverty, social justice, sex-trafficking, child abuse, sexuality, and violence against women. For us, the missional outlook extends to every quarter of the globe and requires greater sensitivity to the resident cultural complexities and a commitment to work within such complexities.

That’s why we love Easter Outreach. It pushes Christians outside the church walls and onto the streets. It pushes us into people’s lives, homes, and living rooms with an Easter meal and an invitation to prayer. We also love the international justice component and the deep partnership with Water is Basic.

2. Because Easter Outreach partners with local churches and non-profits.

At Biblical Seminary we love the local church. We seek to serve the church in all its diversity and beauty. We don’t expect our professors and students to agree on everything. We encourage diversity, dialogue, and discovery. As a non-denominational school, we welcome students of diverse denominational, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds from around the globe. We believe that the mission of Christ is strengthened through those not afraid to ask questions and inquire beyond the status quo and their own tradition. There are no cookie-cutter students at BTS, only committed followers of Jesus, working to authentically follow Jesus into the world.

That’s why we love that Easter Outreach has always been about partnership across denominational, racial, and neighborhood lines. We love that the list of partners grows every year! We also love that Easter Outreach partners with a variety of non-profits and other Christian ministries. We want to join in and be a part of what God is doing through this diverse network of churches and non-profits.

3. Because Easter Outreach serves the city we love.

We love Philadelphia. And, if you haven’t heard, we are moving to Philadelphia in January 2019. We will be located in the heart of Philadelphia (a formal announcement of the exact location coming soon!). We have had a presence in the Philadelphia in the Hunting Park neighborhood through our Joy in the City campus, but we have now sold our main campus and are relocating entirely to Philly. Philadelphia is and will be our place to be the hands and feet of Jesus. This is where we feel God has called us to authentically incarnate the gospel. It is a city of culture, creativity, and community.

We seek to learn and listen to those who have been doing ministry in Philadelphia for a long time. We want to actively join in where the Holy Spirit is moving among the vibrant churches and ministries of the city. We are Philadelphia’s seminary – preparing the next generation of servant-leaders. The fact that Easter Outreach started in Philadelphia and serves primarily Philadelphians means it is a movement of God that we want to be involved in. The BTS community looks forward to serving and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus with you this year!

Hope & Partnership: Epiphany Fellowship Church of Camden

Epiphany Fellowship of Camden providing free resources, such as hair cuts, to local community members, 2016.

Epiphany Fellowship of Camden providing free resources, such as hair cuts, to local community members, 2016.

 

By Pastor Ernest Grant II

Easter Outreach is one of the more pivotal events in our church calendar.

It's what I call a Macro Outreach Event. Macro Outreach Events are large, community-wide projects that address a variety of deficiencies in a targeted community. This is an opportunity for our church to leverage relationships with partner churches, community development associations, and other organizations for the common purpose of meeting the comprehensive needs of the people within a specific demographic. 

The Easter Outreach is helpful for our context because by providing meals, haircuts, health screenings, schooling options, and a host of other things, we're addressing pressing needs in the community. Our events are held in outdoor spaces such as parking lots and parks, and it’s a great event to get community-wide involvement. Ultimately, through our partnership, we provide for the community, demonstrate our care for the community, and bring Jesus glory.

I'm excited for this year's outreach because we believe that it will give us momentum into the summer to engage people and share the gospel, and the Easter Outreach is pivotal to the survival for our church. We've been in partnership for quite some time and have seen the Lord do some amazing things. My hope is that through this event that we'll be able to show off the glory of a Christ and see many conversions.

Our church is full of people that we've engage from this event and I believe that the Lord uses it to show that he's powerful and mighty in most America's dangerous city.

Celebrating Easter in East Falls: Metro Pres

Easter Outreach 2016 for East Falls - Manayunk - Roxborough.

Easter Outreach 2016 for East Falls - Manayunk - Roxborough.

by Donny Cho

The Easter Outreach movement began years ago by members of Liberti East who desired to demonstrate the grace of God in their neighborhood in a practical way during the Lenten season. Since then, over 50 churches have partnered in this monumental effort to bring meals to over 5,000 families annually throughout our glorious city to celebrate the gift of Easter.

Metro Presbyterian Church first had the opportunity to serve in this ministry in 2015 as a mere donor; by the time they heard about the opportunity, it was practically Easter, and the most they could do was provide a small gift. However, in 2016, 35 members of Metro jumped at the opportunity to serve⎯and partnered with 5-6 other churches in their direct vicinity to pack meals, pray with one another, and be sent out in groups of three to distribute meals within their tri-borough zip codes (East Falls-Manayunk-Roxborough).

In the span of one week, believers throughout the region mobilized to answer the very question that was once asked of Jesus: “Who is my neighbor (Luke 10:29)?” As one famous preacher put it, “Our neighbor is anyone whose needs we see, whose needs we are able to meet.” The Easter Outreach Program helps churches all over the city answer that question in a very special way through a very unique collaboration.

There is a special satisfaction that comes with answering the question, “What can churches do together that they could never do on their own?” It’s a godly question because only a God of grace can bring so many different people together in one place to address a need that is so much bigger than they are. It won’t solely resolve the issue of poverty or hunger in our city, but it enables each participant to begin a relationship with their neighbor in a way that could lead to powerful, lasting transformation. Through the Easter Outreach, Metro helped to deliver some 200 meals in the East Falls area alone in 2016. And this year, Metro bears the amazing privilege of serving as a coordinating church, leading the distribution efforts in its own locale. The effort will require even more resources⎯more leaders and participants, serving in various roles and capacities. What an amazing opportunity to develop lasting relationships across many dimensions!

As the lead pastor of Metro Presbyterian Church, Donny Cho anticipates the partnership of the various churches that will gather together during Holy Week to complete the Program’s packing and delivery of meals:

“We always say that those who give⎯often gain so much more from the experience; it’s a cliché. But it’s true. It’s true because if you’re like me, or so many others in our church, we are broken people. As a believer and pastor, you have to face your own brokenness, and you have to endure hardships caused by other broken people. This is why the reality of Easter can’t just be some psychologically uplifting concept; that wouldn’t be enough to draw people with so many ‘distinctives’ together. We celebrate Easter because it’s true. Because the resurrection happened. And because of the reality and beauty of the Person and Work of Jesus, we can all come as we are, and serve others, because we share in the same brokenness of sin, and because we can all experience the same healing balm of God’s grace in Jesus in a powerful way. That’s why we serve and give. And that’s why it is just as meaningful and representative for those who receive the meal as it is for those who give. Jesus can be the Bread of Life for us all.” The next month looks to be yet another special season of outreach for Metro Presbyterian Church, and for all those who participate in this meaningful program.

To learn more about Metro Presbyterian Church in East Falls, check out their website.
Check out what’s going on with the Easter Outreach and consider becoming a partner today.

Metro Pres Community Members.

Metro Pres Community Members.

Celebrating Diversity & Community: SACC

Community members of Snyder Avenue Congregation Church (SACC Philly).

Community members of Snyder Avenue Congregation Church (SACC Philly).

by David Grainge
Pastor of SACC Philly

We are SACC Philly.
Worshipers from Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Central America, Nepal, various African nations, and, of course, life-long residents of the city gather together to exalt Jesus Christ and to celebrate their unity in Him Sunday mornings at Snyder Avenue Congregational Church, or SACC Philly, in South Philadelphia.  SACC Philly is One Church comprised of several ethnically diverse congregations that share the building on the corner of 3rd and Snyder and who work together to make the Gospel of Christ known to their neighbors.

David Grainge, lead pastor of the host congregation, explains their composition of various languages and cultures, “Our diverse body of believers is the beginning of what God will one day complete at the restoration of all things.  What Babel divided and Pentecost foreshadowed, the worship at SACC represents a next step to our future restoration as one new people around the throne of God.”

The original SACC congregation now worships in both English and Swahili.  Back in 2015 one of the pastors invited a group of mostly Congolese refugees to the church.  The next Sunday over 40 came.  Today, SACC’s Sunday morning service is a mix of African worship and Episcopalian liturgy.   Pastor Grainge’s sermons are translated by one of the refugees into Swahili.   There is dancing, responsive readings, clapping and the recitation of the Nicene Creed.  It’s a mixture of tradition, ethnicity and culture, all wonderfully fused together by their fellowship in Christ.

Previous years with Easter Outreach Meal Delivery have certainly been fun!

Previous years with Easter Outreach Meal Delivery have certainly been fun!

Last year, three of the SACC Philly congregations worked together delivering dinners to their neighbors.  It was a great time to meet new people, share Jesus’ love while praying for them, and introduce them to this colorful church community.  Since many of their refugee neighbors want to learn about Easter, it is also a fantastic way to share the true reason believers at SACC Philly are celebrating this year.

To learn more about SACC Philly, please visit their Website and Facebook.