Oxford Circle Mennonite Church

DISTRICT: Philadelphia

LOCATION: 900 E Howell Street, Philadelphia, PA 19149




PASTORS: Leonard Dow, Lynn Parks

Oxford Circle Mennonite Church and the allied ministry, Oxford Circle Christian Community Development Association, meet diverse needs in Northeast Philadelphia. We are a very diverse congregation, racially, socio-economically, and theologically. There are a number of mixed race families in our congregation. Having an African American man and an Anglo woman sharing pastoral leadership creates a welcoming dynamic for people of different ethnicities to come together for worship.

Recently we partnered with Carnell Elementary School to implement a school redesign and open a Family Resource Center at the school. People from our congregation teach English classes for adults through the Family Resource Center and in our Adult Education program. These people pray for the families and then work directly with them in teaching English Language Learner classes. Recently two congregants raised money to spend two weeks in Haiti learning Creole and experiencing Haitian culture so they can better relate to their Haitian students from the community.

Community members visit our building most days of the week. Other ministries connected with Oxford Circle Mennonite Church and Oxford Circle Christian Community Development Association include Adult Education classes, General Education Development classes, Mennonite Central Committee food bag distribution, a new Kinder Academy preschool, a new summer Healing Hearts Club camp, a community meal initiative, and many more. The preschool recently hired one member of our church. In this way, we create job opportunities in the neighborhood.

The Healing Hearts Club camp for children ages 8-13 is a trauma healing program developed by the American Bible Society. We are now running our second Healing Hearts Club program as part of our Afterschool program.

Recently a team in the congregation developed a class for youth and adults on racism. We engaged in this topic during our Christian Education Hour. Two women from our church presented at the “Women Doing Theology” conference in November. In December, we hosted our annual Toy Store. Families from the neighborhood and other partners can shop for new toys for their children for a set price of $5 per child.

While exciting things regularly happen at Oxford Circle Mennonite Church, we struggle to know the best way to love each other and our community. We struggle with having enough volunteers, engaging more people from the congregation in the work, and in developing and releasing more people into leadership. We try new things, but not every new initiative goes well. In spite of our failures, we love this city, and we believe God loves this city. We want to be a part of that.

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