In 2005, Broad Street Ministry was formed as an alternative church community. BSM seeks to be dynamic in its expression of worship, embracing those both on the margins of faith and those who have enjoyed the embrace of the church.
BSM also welcomes into its body not just those who are on the margins of faith but those who are on the margins of society. Here, a member of a prestigious private club worships alongside a person experiencing homelessness. The gay and lesbian activist passes the peace with the Pentecostal lay preacher. The possessor of a PhD. in theology prays alongside the summa cum laude graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. Churches should regularly feature this kind of diversity but in our experience—they seldom do. We believe that diversity of belief, skin tone and life circumstance strengthens our witness as a Christian community—and we work hard to extend it. We worship weekly at 4pm.
BSM tries to be faithful to Christ’s call to gather together all who can hear his voice.
In 2006, BSM organized a formal Board of Directors to guide its mission and work and received 501c-3 non-profit status to pursue its purposes:
- To worship and pray and explore faith
- To extend lavish hospitality to each and all
- To work for a more compassionate and just city and world
Time and Place
Until May of 2005, the century-old Chambers-Wylie church building loomed quietly and uninvitingly amid a bustling and vibrant Broad Street in the heart of Center City Philadelphia along a section known as the Avenue of the Arts. It stood solemnly alongside some intriguing and impressive neighbors.
Standing on the church steps and looking across the street one can see:
- The Kimmel Center for Performing Arts—home to the city’s first-rate orchestra and host to world-renowned performers and,
- The University of the Arts—packed to overflowing with the next generation of visual and performing artists.
- There are many other performing arts venues in the area including The Wilma Theater—a daring and heralded theater venue and…
- Just a few short blocks to the north is City Hall—where decisions are made daily about how our city should establish and live out its priorities.
- Catty-cornered to the Symphony House—home to the Philadelphia Theatre Company is some of the newest, most expensive real estate in the city.
In addition to proximity to these landmark institutions, the areas surrounding the church are a collection of special neighborhoods. To those who visit Broad Street to do business by day or patronize the arts scene by night, they find that an exciting mix of every kind of diverse neighborhood has grown up around the church building.
While this section of Broad Street continues to welcome patrons most nights of the week from the city and suburbs, people of every age, class and hue now live and work in the blocks surrounding the church building. And this is a trend that is ticking upward—illustrated poignantly by the expansive residential development in every direction which even a few short years ago was nearly unthinkable.
The Chambers-Wylie Memorial Presbyterian Church church building and facilities—which for years were shut up and closed down to this vital community—is now home to the Broad Street Ministry.
BSM seized upon an unparalleled opportunity in this location to form a new kind of Christian community that serves as ground for:
- Expressive and soulful worship services
- Bold faith exploration
- Opportunities for compassionate discipleship.
Rather than looking inward to serve its own needs or insist that others appreciate our particular point of view, BSM hopes to have its mission, its values, and its commitments shaped by this rich context! BSM serves as:
- A lively hub for cultural and artistic expression
- A center for dialogue around issues of moral urgency confronting the city and the world
- Host to neighboring civic and artistic groups that enrich and transform our city.
- A dynamic, creative and welcoming worshiping community.
BSM seized this unique moment and opportunity and continues to offer an imaginative and diverse palate of programs, events as well as serving as a spiritual center along the Avenue of the Arts in Center City, Philadelphia.
We thought we would change the world. Turns out we can change the neighborhood, which isn’t too bad.