On Friday, November 8, 2019, over 300 leaders from churches, schools, businesses, and nonprofits in the Greater Philadelphia area gathered together for Movement Day Philadelphia. The conference hosted by Philadelphia Gospel Movement took place at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. Cairn University alumni, current students, faculty, and a board member were in attendance.
Movement Day, originally started in New York City, is an initiative of movement.org that exists to “catalyze leaders to spiritually and socially impact their cities through rigorous research, uniting prayer, unified local leadership, and powerful collaboration between diverse sectors.” These city-specific conferences serve as an opportunity for like-minded Christian organizations to network with one another and consider new ways to impact their communities.
The conference was set up with small tables circled around the centrally located stage. This central focus emphasized the overall “coffee break energy” of the conference. Rather than all facing the stage in one direction, the circle encouraged collaboration and engagement with everyone present. Additionally, the schedule operated under the philosophy that “the room is smarter than any one person that could speak.” Attendees mingled at new tables with each presented discussion question to promote connection with as many people as possible.
Leaders of the conference sought to bring a diverse group of people, including various church affiliations/denominations, political beliefs, and races and ethnicities. Reverend Dr. Alyn E. Waller, pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, noted that with the vast amount of differences in the people represented at Movement Day, “we could start a real fight.” With a laugh, he explained that this gathering of Christian leaders and servants went beyond distinctions such as “liberal” and “conservative” by uniting the participants with a common mission to serve the city like Christ.
The conference presented a number of notable guests, including former Philadelphia Mayor, Reverend Dr. W. Wilson Goode Sr., who encouraged attendees to passionately engage the needs of Philadelphia like poverty, homelessness, lack of healthcare, gun violence, and racial inequality. Dr. Coz Crosscombe, director of the Center for Urban Engagement at Cairn, spoke briefly about exciting community developments surrounding his area of Hunting Park, highlighting organizations such as Esperanza Health Center, Esperanza Academy, Christian Legal Clinics, Everence, Vocatio, Timoteo Sports, and several local churches. The conference also included a session led by Bob Doll, a member of the Cairn University Board of Trustees.
In addition to Dr. Crosscombe and Bob Doll, an impressive showing of current students, alumni, staff, and Cairn affiliates took part in the conference. Lizzie Walker ’18, who now serves as the community engagement specialist at Esperanza Health Center, said of the event, “Philadelphia changes really quickly from block to block, so it’s easy to focus on the work in your own neighborhood. This was a great opportunity to hear about the work God is doing in other parts of the city and to explore ways we can work together.”
Cairn University was proud to sponsor this event alongside many other excellent institutions, businesses, and churches. Events such as Movement Day Philadelphia exhibit Cairn’s hope to engage with the Philadelphia area and continue to produce qualified alumni that have a positive, Christlike impact on the communities they serve.