Serving on the Ground in North Philly: Grace & Peace's Easter Outreach Story

The congregation of Grace and Peace Community Fellowship is a reflection of its neighborhood. This means that the church, located in the Hunting Park neighborhood of North Philadelphia – where children outnumber adults – is made up mostly of families with young children, as well as teenagers. Initially planted by Spirit and Truth Fellowship, Grace and Peace officially organized within the Christian Reformed Church in 2015. And they are on the move in their neighborhood, coming alongside people in the midst of the drug use and violence that plague their community.

The heart of their ministry is to be directly involved with people in need. Each summer, they host a day camp for kids in the neighborhood. They’re also closely connected to the Timoteo Football League, which provides mentorship to young men. So, partnering with Easter Outreach is a natural fit. “This is another way for the church to be visible in the community,” says Wayne Bawell, Grace and Peace’s youth pastor.  

Grace and Peace first joined forces with Easter Outreach in 2014, when their youth group volunteered to pack and deliver meals at Liberti East. By 2015, they were hosting their own packing nights and delivering meals directly to their neighbors in need. “It’s another way for us to reach families,” says Bawell. “It was great to connect with families, especially the people who don’t come on Sundays, but who we’re connected to through the community.”

Looking ahead, 2016 is going to be a big year for Grace and Peace. They are currently working to acquire a nearby building, which at the very least would become a ministry center to serve the church’s overarching mission. They envision this being a place where youth can come for daycare and afterschool programs. It would also host their summer camp, and would offer outreach programs with workshops and employment resources. The location of this space is also key: it’s close to public transit and overlooks Hunting Park, a community outdoor space that also has a lot of drug activity and prostitution. “We need to connect to that side of the park,” says Bawell. “There’s really no viable church there. We need to respond to that neighborhood, because it’s pretty marginalized and forgotten.”

They’ll begin to do that even before moving in, through their partnership with Easter Outreach. This Easter, Grace and Peace will intentionally deliver meals in this neighborhood, with the hope that these dinners are a foot in the door to creating lasting connections in a place that could soon become home.   

To learn more about Grace and Peace Community Fellowship, please visit their website. And to sign up to pack and distribute meals at Grace and Peace, head over to the volunteer page.

Easter Outreach 2016 at Grace & Peace Community Fellowship