Giving Back in the Northeast: CityReach Philly's Easter Outreach Story

Just over three years ago, Pastor Mark Novalés envisioned starting a church in North Philadelphia. By the fall of 2015, CityReach Philly – a church plant of the greater CityReach network – was not only thriving, but had purchased and renovated a building on Torresdale Ave. This historic theater space is situated on a main street in the Tacony neighborhood, creating easy access for the kind of ministry that CityReach Philly hopes to do.

“Since moving here, even since just looking at this building, CityReach has been so intentional about engaging this community,” says Yvette Núñez, a member of the church who leads many of their community engagement efforts. “So, Easter Outreach is just an extension of that. Now that we have this space, how awesome is it that people can just walk in, and hopefully be made to feel welcome in this space, and find it to be an option for them and their family.”

Last year, CityReach joined in Easter Outreach by providing volunteers at a packing site, and sending members out to deliver meals. “It was powerful going in to peoples’ houses and praying for them,” says CityReach Philly’s founding pastor, Mark Novalés. It’s important to him that his congregation gets involved in mercy initiatives like Easter Outreach. “We don’t want our people to just receive. We need to give as well.”

This year, they’ll play an even bigger role in Easter Outreach, by serving as a packing site, and ultimately opening their doors and inviting neighbors in to receive meals. They hope to distribute at least 300 meals, and plan to use this event as an opportunity to meet their new neighbors and help connect them not only to the church, but to other resources, such as local literacy programs and summer camps.

“The Easter Outreach is a way to get connected,” says Novalés. “To God, first and foremost, and the love of Christ, but also to resources.” He points out that churches in general, but especially new churches, need to make an effort to reach out. Many people have a hard time just walking in to a church, so it’s important to meet them and invite them in.

CityReach Philly is especially drawn to Easter Outreach because of the effort to be ecumenical, and to reach the many different people who call this area home. “It’s important to reach diverse communities,” says Núñez. “We’re better together,” adds Novalés. “I feel like God honors unity. There are so many separate, little Kingdoms. But when we come together, even with our differences, I feel like God honors that. Maybe we can’t do everything together, but this is something that we can do. That’s Kingdom work.”

To learn more about the CityReach Philly, please visit their website or Facebook page. And head to the volunteer page to learn more about meal packing and distribution at CityReach.

Easter Outreach 2016 at CityReach Philly