“Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” is the UMC’s current slogan, a memorable phrase that asserts who we are and what we offer. Arch Street UMC in Philadelphia open its doors for worship, dialogue and hospitality during the week of the Roman Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families and visit by Pope Francis, Sept. 22-27.
The Rev. Robin Hynicka, senior pastor, reported that Arch Street UMC will join the Welcome Church, a Lutheran congregation without walls, in outdoor worship together Sunday, Sept. 20, on Benjamin Franklin Parkway (Shakespeare Park) at 3 PM.
“The experience will highlight the reality that The Parkway is home to many persons experiencing homelessness,” he wrote, “and the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’s visit will displace them and disrupt their routine.” Those who gather there will pray for Pope Francis and the event, and for the thousands of pilgrims who will visit the City of Brotherly Love. “The message in prayer, preaching and prophetic witness is two-fold,” said Hynicka. “The Parkway is sacred space and already blessed for the Pope’s visit, and all kinds of families are precious and included in the family of God.”
Later that week Arch Street will host groups of “reform-hearted Catholics” for discussions and workshops promoting the value and significance of including LGBTQ persons fully in the life of the church. On Sunday, Sept. 27, Arch Street will offer inclusive morning worship and then show the Papal Mass on screen so viewers can join the world in witnessing the historic ceremony. That evening the church will host its weekly Grace Café gathering for fellowship and a community meal. “Church staff and volunteers will be on hand all week to provide holy hospitality,” said Hynicka.