Note: James is on vacation, but he wrote this note in advance to share with you now.
Over the last few months, a series of ideas have developed. Cassie as our talented and energetic outreach coordinator, the Compline prayer group, the Thursday Bible Study, and the vestry all have contributed. The core idea is to offer hospitality and love to our neighborhood by installing a box or boxes on the corner of our property adjacent to the park at Remington Rd. What do boxes have to do with God’s love? There are three interconnected answers to this question. We may implement one, two, or all three:
- A Little Free Library – you’ve seen these around your neighborhood, a small outdoor structure, protected from the rain, that contains books which anyone can take, borrow, or add. There is a national registry of such little free libraries to which we would add our own. Our little free library will be curated. We make sure there are always some accessible books about Christianity like Rowan Williams Being Christian, and CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity. We’ll include literature concerning Holy Apostles and how to get involved. It would be wonderful to have books in non-English languages as a gesture of welcome in the midst of a growing language diversity of our neighborhood. Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese are good starting places. These are a few of the more common languages, but Penn Wynne Elementary School reports students and families who speak these and other languages. Finally, the library would include a small section honoring the faith heritage that we hold in common with our Jewish neighbors. This would include books by authors such as Rabbi Abraham Herschel and Jon Levenson whose spiritual works are illuminating to all Abrahamic faiths.
- A Little Free Pantry – just as there are little free libraries all over the place, so there are also pantries that work on the same cooperative principle. You get the idea: non-perishables that are available for anyone to take, and the option for anyone to restock the shelf. At first, I was skeptical to the notion that anyone in our neighborhood would benefit from such a thing. Then I heard the experience of St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Wayne, how their pantry is constantly utilized by people. Fr. Joseph, their priest, estimates that their pantry is completely depleted and completely restocked by people in their neighborhood every few days. It is my understanding that Wayne is one of the most affluent of Philadelphia’s suburbs. Food insecurity is everywhere.
- A Doggie Comfort Station – until my family got a dog (Bella, the beloved rescue dog of indeterminate heritage) I did not pay attention to how many dogs were in the neighborhood and how many of them pass in front of our church every single day. People around here love their dogs a lot. Providing something that communicates we care about people’s dogs is going to be a visceral and direct way to communicate that we care about people themselves, and that we care about our neighborhood. The Doggie Comfort Station would perhaps consist of a way to provide water for passing dogs (this needs to be done in a way that doesn’t breed mosquitos), and a sealed container for dog treats. We are also considering providing dog poop bags and a little trash can. Don’t worry, I’ll empty it. Dealing with dog poop is a very small price to pay if it means loving our neighbors and inviting people to experience God’s love for themselves.
That’s what it’s all about. The primary and essential purpose of our property is to help us spread the love of God and magnify the name of Jesus. Let’s leverage every inch to achieve that goal!