Christ Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, doesn't rely only on its beautiful buildings or historical status to attract members: it offers innovative ministries that bridge church and community.
"This is a parish that is deeply committed to its neighborhood on all levels," said the Rev. Bob Honeychurch, the Episcopal Church's officer for congregational vitality, in a Jan. 26 press release from the church's Office of Communication.
Christ Church is the first of five Episcopal churches to be featured in "Transforming Churches, Changing the World," a video project produced by the Office of Communication, the release said.
The first video is available here. A new video will be released each month through May. The purpose of the video project is to present identifying characteristics of healthy churches, with a focus on ministry and outreach, according to the release.
"In the 'Transforming Churches, Changing the World' series," Honeychurch said, "we are intentional about identifying characteristics of Episcopal congregations across the church which have demonstrated a hands-on approach to being more accessible to the wider community. They have a sense of themselves that is so compelling to non-church members that it appeals to that ministry."
"This series will be a cornerstone for congregations of all sizes to learn what impact they can make in the lives of their community," he added.
Originally, the film crew set out to identify a pattern; something that could be modeled, but in the end found that each church was "wildly different" -- from the way it worshipped to the congregation's makeup and the way it attracted new members, said Mike Collins, the church's director of digital media, in the release.
"This was an opportunity to really spotlight great work that is being done in the Episcopal Church today," he said. "'Transforming Churches, Changing the World' is a series of positive stories about how these specific churches are thriving, finding and retaining new members and making a positive impact in their local contexts."
"It really is about learning about practices of churches," Collins added, "We are creating a series of stories that shows we are one church in over 7,000 places. We are one church with 7,000 stories told in their own ways."
The Christ Church video focuses on "The Bridge" a program aimed at connecting life and faith through action and ministry, according to the release.
Also know as "The Nation's Church," Christ Church, founded in 1695, is the burial site of seven signers of the Declaration of Independence and five signers of the U.S. Constitution, including Benjamin Franklin. It was the first parish of the Church of England in Pennsylvania and the birthplace of the Episcopal Church in America. The first General Convention of the Episcopal Church was held there and the first presiding bishop served as its rector.
"We have just as much future as we have past," the Rev. Timothy B. Safford, Christ Church's rector, says in the video.