Christ Church South Philly hosts fourth annual Summer Festival

    The event invites the entire community, including those of all faiths, to celebrate South Philadelphia.

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    Members of the South Philly community enjoy Christ Church South Philly’s fourth annual Summer Festival at Dickinson Square Park last year. This year’s event is scheduled for July 27. (Photos courtesy of Christ Church South Philly.)

    Folks from all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and faiths are welcome to celebrate their communities on Saturday, July 27, during Christ Church South Philly’s fourth annual Summer Festival at Dickinson Square Park, 515 Tasker St., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    Founded five years ago, the Pennsport-based religious organization strives to preach the gospel beyond the four walls of its church and into the community through events like the festival, which expects to attract about 1,000 attendees next week. 

    Christ Church South Philly, which encompasses the 501c3 nonprofit Transformation to Recovery ministry, a resource for individuals suffering from substance abuse, describes itself as a “no frills” entity, welcoming people of all beliefs living in local transitioning neighborhoods of South Philadelphia. 

    “We came in just to start a neighborhood church of people from South Philly and are for South Philly …It seemed like South Philly was a little bit underserved,” said lead pastor Jeff Boettcher. “There’s a lot of churches that had to close. There seemed like a real dearth of spiritual vitality.”

    The church, which Boettcher says started with about two dozen adults and now sees about 150 individuals on Sunday mornings, works to practice the ancient word of the Bible while concurrently applying it to relevant culture today.

    The organization hopes to appeal to people who have written off religion by approaching the word of God in a stripped-down and authentic manner – much like Philadelphia itself. 

    “Philly is a blue-collar kind of city and a gritty city, and that’s kind of what our church is like,” Boettcher said. “The church is kind of a reflection of the city.”

    In fostering this objective, the church hosts free community-based events throughout the year, including a Thanksgiving potluck, an Easter egg hunt and the highly anticipated summer festival.

    In an effort to introduce the community to the church, the annual event started as a barbecue block party outside of the church, 229 Moore St.

    But, Boettcher says through word of mouth, the afternoon of entertainment, games and food grew so massive that it relocated to Dickinson Square Park. 

    “It’s a great opportunity to come together as a community,” he said. “And we think that there’s so much divisions taking place, so it’s just great to be unified together in an expression of unity.”

    This year’s event will feature a sundry of family fun, including lawn games, bounce houses, face painting, scavenger hunts, relay races, make-and-take painting, basketball tournaments, volleyball tournaments and live performances from local children’s band SunnyD. 

    Refreshments will include hot dogs, water ice, drinks and snacks.

    Boettcher stresses the event embodies the cornerstone of Christ Church South Philly, as it aims to reach people of all needs and religions throughout the area. 

    “Church isn’t just what you do on Sundays,” he said. “It’s who you are on your block, who you are in your neighborhood. We believe in a lot of grassroots initiatives …(Attendees) can expect to have a lot of fun. It’s going to be a great time to get together with neighbors of all demographics – just to enjoy the best of what South Philly has to offer.”

    To learn more about the event, including the times of each activity, visit: www.facebook.com/pg/christchurchsouthphilly.

    Rain date is Saturday, August 3. 

    gmaiorano@newspapermediagroup.com 

    Twitter: @gracemaiorano