One of the key ways outreach is realized at Central Baptist Church is through Mission Groups. New cohorts organize around emerging visions, and existing groups continuously shape their missions to be responsive and transforming. Mission groups are open to all and persons may join at anytime. We also invite CBCers to make a commitment to one or more groups in the Fall of each year.
Coinciding with our dedication to enfolding the newcomer, Outreach English is CBC’s longest standing mission group. Our current model provides conversation partners and weekly tutors to those who are learning English as an additional language. The target population is parents of children in the Radnor School District. Participants range from those who are newly arrived in the U.S. and in need of “survival English,” to those want to improve their communication skills in order to gain employment or improve their employment status. Our goal is to be a welcoming presence, alleviating the loneliness and alienation that language barriers often create. A Conversation class meets on Friday mornings at CBC during the school year.
Continuing with the values of CBC founders, The Undoing Racism Work Group is committed to heightening our awareness of the tragic cost of racism within our society. We seek to form partnerships with those who are likewise committed to overcoming racism. Each year CBC participates in the Radnor Township CommUnity Breakfast, which was inspired by CBC’s vision for “undoing racism” decades ago. Recently CBC hosted an original play by CBCer Gordon Bennett, entitled My Name is Ossian Sweet, based on a true story of racial injustice in 1920’s America.
Rainbow Alliance Mission Group is committed to the ongoing work of acceptance, celebration, and equal rights of LGBTIQ persons in our society and communities of faith. RA addresses theological/Biblical issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender variations, engages in valuable education and advocacy efforts, and sponsors wonderful social activities. In our humble opinion, we have the best post-holiday Christmas party around! Other activities have included participating in the Philadelphia Pride Parade, sponsoring educational forums, a Jennifer Knapp Inside Out Faith event, and social activities such as Gay Bingo. The Rainbow Alliance is open to all (including straight people 🙂 ).
Friends of Jitokeze
Our newest mission group, Friends of Jitokeze, works in tandem with the Friends of Jitokeze International here in the US, as well as Jitokeze Wamama Wafrika in West Pekot Kenya, a sub-Saharan region drastically affected by climate change. The organization of JMM was founded by Pini Kidulah, with the vision of helping marginalized women improve their economic and social conditions, and of learning to live and work sustainably. The blossoming, development, and expansion of Pini’s vision has been incredible, with a sand dam already built for water retention, sustainable crops planted, and the construction of a dormitory office complex currently underway. We came to know Pini when she was in the United States working towards her Master’s in Economic Development at nearby Eastern University. Pini attended CBC, shared her vision, became a member of our congregation, and the rest, as they say, is history (in the making)! With CBCers as the catalyst, Friends of Jitokeze International was launched and is the non-profit (401c3) that works in support of this mission.
Embracing the Biblical mandate to “welcome the stranger,” the Immigration Justice Group is committed to educating the congregation about immigration issues, being actively engaged in advocacy for immigrant rights, and to providing accompaniment for families suffering the injustices of a broken immigration system. We are currently accompanying Anthony from Honduras as he journeys through the immigration system. CBC’s Immigration Justice Group works in coordination with the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia.
The Ecology Mission Group is the leading edge of our shared faith value of justice for, and care of, creation. The group engages broadly with the network of environmental science and activism and by keeping the congregation up to date on the most current climate change challenges. Along with Peacemakers, the Ecology Mission Group is currently challenging the congregation to become Carbon Neutral. The group was instrumental in getting a state grant to have solar photovoltaic panels placed on the roof of the church in April 2009 and prior to that, in publishing a Green Guide for congregations. On Sunday mornings EMG sells ecological and fair trade products as well as energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs.
Interfaith Hospitality Network
As a sponsoring member of the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) of the Main Line, CBC’s building is used to house guests in need, for one week at a time. Families who currently have no permanent housing, move, on a rotating basis, among sponsoring congregations and arrive at CBC once every 3 months. Volunteers from CBC and the community provide much needed support for setting up the facility, providing and serving food, and offering hospitality, answering Jesus’ question, “When did you see me….”.
Peacemakers feel called to express love for God and neighbor by working collectively with people of other faiths to stop war and other violence at all levels, and to foment peaceful, just policies. We support peace and conflict-transformation education for all, both within and beyond CBC. And we seek the Spirit’s transforming presence so we may love our enemies as God loves them. Some of our more recent activities have included promoting and participating in the annual Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America Summer Conference and the Philadelphia Interfaith Peace Walk, education on Drone warfare, hosting a Baptist Cuban neighbor during her visit to the US, Conscientious Objection training for our youth, and our joint effort with the Ecology Mission Group on addressing Climate Change.