Circle of Hope’s Compassion Teams

None of our teams constitute a “program” of the church. They are all an expression of the life of the Spirit in the body of Christ. They start with an inspiration and form when enough people want to join together to express God’s leading. When they lose steam or their service is done, they disperse.


Help us continue our work

We do all of our compassionate work through the donations that you and others give us. Giving to us can help people get into counseling at Circle Counseling, participate in Shalom House, get affordable clothing at Circle Thrift, give away goods for babies at a Baby Goods Exchange, annihilate consumer debt, plant an urban farm, and even start a good business. The opportunities are endless. Giving just a little bit can go a long way; setting up incremental payments through your bank is a great idea too.

Use Square Cash



Send donations, safely and easily, by using our Square Cash donation website:$CircleCompassion

Or send to our cashtag $CircleCompassion on your Square Cash phone app.

 Use Paypal




  • Please add “Compassion Teams” under Special Instructions on the payment confirmation page.
  • Please do not add to your credit card debt in God’s honor! This way of sharing is a convenience for those who are out of town or well-disciplined.

Mail to Our Office

Circle of Hope Compassion Teams

1125 South Broad Street 2nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19147

(Make checks payable to Circle of Hope, with a memo noting “compassion teams.”)

Circle Counseling

CircleCounselingProfessional Mental Health Services Grounded in Faith

Circle Counseling was founded in 1997 by Dr. Gwen White. We offer a broad spectrum of counseling services today designed to provide quality care for a wide range of mental, emotional, and spiritual concerns. We strive to keep our services affordable to everyone and offer our services on a sliding scale. Through work with individuals, couples, and families we promote health, wholeness, and reconciliation.

Our Philosophy

When life becomes challenging or you’re losing hope, a safe place to explore change can be the way to a fuller and happier life.

For more information about Circle Counseling or to schedule an initial appointment, please contact:

Gwen White, Director
4617 Woodland Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19143

Circle Counseling Connection Team

A core team of counselors form to keep the connections between counselors growing and encouraging. They oversee the development of Circle Counseling with a view toward offering a broad spectrum of counseling services designed to provide quality care for a wide range of mental, emotional, and spiritual concerns as an expression of the church’s compassion and commitment to psychological health as a means to spiritual health. They are devoted to keeping the connection between Circle of Hope and Circle Counseling fresh, informed and nurturing.

Circle Mobilizing Because Black Lives Matter

Circle Mobilizing Because Black Lives Matter was formed to help Circle of Hope live out our conviction that “fomenting diversity and reconciliation is at the prophetic heart of our gospel.” We want to exist where hurting, frustrated, compassionate, and activated people can connect with God more deeply and help the Beloved Community act for redemption in our particular time around issues needing justice and reconciliation.

  1. Connect Circle of Hope to the broader Black Lives Matter movement, representing our body at the local level at planning sessions, actions, and online.
  2. Find more partners for Jesus’ mission among activists, demonstrators, and those sympathetic to the cause of fighting systemic white supremacy.
  3. Mobilize Circle of Hope for actions, protests, demonstrations, and liturgical public witness.
  4. Foment discussion around issues of racial justice and systematic racism.
  5. Create a space for people of color in the church to share their stories and be heard.


Joshua Grace

Circle of Peacemakers


To create a network of peacemakers who are activated to grow in faith and express the gospel of peace.  We want to foment reconciliation here in Philadelphia and around the world.

We hope you will be part of the journey!

Thanks for seeking peace with us!

Circle of Peacemakers Team

Jane Clinton, Gwen White, Rod White, Scott Clinton, John Londres, Sarah White, Melissa Stoner

Circle Thrift Advisory

CircleThriftlogoOur Mission

Circle Thrift seeks to bring hope to the challenges of 21st century urban life: We strive to accomplish this by sharing God’s love, providing inexpensive clothing, creating jobs, building community and relationships, and providing funds to help support our partners.

Circle Thrift (Fishtown)

2233 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125
Jess Shoffner (Manager) email:

Circle Thrift (South Philly)

1125 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Aaron Foltz (Manager) email:

For more info…

Martha Grace (CT Director)

Sara Keel, Team Leader,

Visit our website:

Community Workshop Compassion Team

The Community Workshop will provide a place for people in Philadelphia to find low cost access to woodworking equipment, as well as space to create, and instruction to learn and grow marketable skills. We will seek artists and craftspeople who are established and just need the facility to realize their visions, as well as untrained individuals who would otherwise be prohibited from learning a trade due to the high startup costs. Casting a wide net over multiple socio-economic groups will allow for cooperative learning and cultivate a community atmosphere focusing on equality and the abundance of resources when participating collectively.

As a compassion team we hope to raise funds for maintenance of a safe work space, and meet the needs of Circle Thrift by remaking unsaleable furniture received as donations. We also hope to create jobs for unskilled workers ( formerly incarcerated, refugees, friends living on the street) by graduating them from our rigorous training program and hiring them to work for the workshop.

Core members: Greg Fuguet, Martha Grace, Kristen Snow,

Members at large: Eric Smelser, Will Stichter, Mike Stichter, Jeremy Avellino, Bethany Hornak, Bryant Burkhart, Mikey Master, Kirby Franklin, Kent Ellingson

Debt Annihilation


“Do not owe anything to anyone besides love.” (Rom 13:8) This is for freedom. Free people can do more than those in bondage.  [Gal 5] Our exhortation to the church: don’t use your freedom like stereotypical Americans…enslaved to debt, living in the shame, not experiencing a fuller freedom of sharing and unable to fully participate in the imagination and responsibility of life in the church.

We want to offer practical solutions to the slavery of consumer debt by building community trust, sharing, and providing capital to eliminate consumer debt in our community.


The Debt Annihilation Team has four parts: Intake, Personal Finance Coaches, D.A.T. Leaders, and Group Administrators.  We form applicants into groups of “astronauts” for a period of time when they will use seed money and an agreed upon strategy to pay off one another’s debt.

“Family, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore them gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are nothing, they deceives themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves, without comparing one to somebody else, for each one should carry their own load.” (Galatians 6:1-5)

Past Progress

Throughout the Spring of 2010, we began gathering the team.  We found people who wanted to give this idea a try and started training.  Mennonite Mutual Aid trained our Personal Finance Coaches.  “Astronauts” did a lot of work with their creditors and personal budget.

By November of 2010, we unleashed the seed fund and began a process of empowering, community building annihilation of consumer debt.   Our current plan is to wipe out about $23,000 of debt and interest in the next 24 months or so, faster than what would be normally possible for the individuals.

The Basic Process

The “astronauts” commit to the Debt Annihilation Group for a period of time that will remove an agreed-upon amount of debt. We’ll determine how to get this done most efficiently, with the debt and giving we have available within the group.

Individuals in the group also commit to an agreed-upon baseline amount (above their minimum monthly payment) to contribute to the debt-removal process.

The order of “execution” is discerned.  Everyone in the group begins to pay off the LOWEST person’s debt or HIGHEST interest rate-whichever is discerned to be more effective for that group, while only paying the minimum balance on all other debt.  The seed money is used to strengthen the effort.

Once the first person is paid off, all baseline funds (including the person who is paid off) go towards the next person.  The process repeats until everyone is paid off and the seed fund is replenished for the next group.

Once the seed fund is replenished and people have gone through our coaching and “graduated,” they are welcome to give small amounts of money ($10-$20/mo suggested) towards the seed fund for future annihilation.

Team Leader

Joshua Grace

Development Without Displacement


The Development without Displacement team is a new coalition that is forming based on the success of the the Take Back Vacant Land Campaign. We are building a second powerful citywide coalition with the goal of developing and winning passage of funding bills that will provide resources to build affordable housing and support fresh, affordable food production. We want to wage a “Development without Displacement” campaign that will create new policies and new resources to ensure balanced and affordable development occurs in communities. Neighborhoods are increasing in value and residents and businesses are being pushed out because they can’t afford to stay. In other communities years have passed with little or no investment being made and residents feel as if the City has abandoned them.

The Development Without Displacement team represents Circle of Hope on the citywide coalition that is filled with diverse people and organizations. This idea coincides strongly with Circle of Hope’s convictions and proverbs. It foments diversity, subverts the sin of racism, and speaks out definitively against unjust laws that oppress people and ruin creation. The connections we make through here will also contribute to our five-year vision of fomenting reconciliation, letting our deeds do the talking, and it offers opportunities for jobs and businesses.

Team Leader

Jonny Rashid

Other Members

Anna Rhoades, Jess Shoffner, Rachel Sensenig, Nick Schummer, Julie Hoke, Sara Semborski, Amanda Johnson

Free Baby (and Kids) Goods Exchange

bgxOur Mission

We provide events where people can exchange baby goods with a special eye on those who can’t afford to buy them.

What We Do

Circle of Hope and Circle Thrift partner to offer Free Baby (& Kids) Goods eXchanges – an opportunity to swap used (or unused) baby and kids clothes, toys, baby gear, books, and maternity clothes with other parents in the community. People can pick up what their child(ren) may need in the days ahead and pass along what’s no longer needed.

Each Circle of Hope congregation hosts at least two Free Baby (& Kids) Goods eXchange through out the year around in the Philadelphia area and one in South Jersey.

‘Like’ the Free Baby (& Kids) Goods eXchange page on Facebook to add your support and stay in the loop about future events.

Shared Story

Apart from the obvious blessing of offering free baby goods to whoever needs them, the Baby Goods eXchange offers something more profound to the Philadelphia community.

It quietly offers an alternative to society’s pressure toward both consumerism and social isolation. I love that the Baby Goods eXchange offers something starkly different from the mainstream. Instead of people trampling on each other to get the best deal, people share knowledge and resources freely to anyone who wants to participate.

Team Leader

Danielle Ziegler

Other Members

South Broad – Alison Wear

Frankford Ave – Martha Grace & Leann Gorman

Marlton Pike– Kim Hewlett & Jenni Reynolds

North Broad – Steven Hess

Friends of Hagert Street Playground

hagertAbout Us

Friends of Hagert Street Playground supports the long time efforts of Melissa and Julius Rivera who have been doing inspiring (and hard) work in the neighborhood for many years. The Rivera’s are focused on revitalizing and renovating the playground across the street from their house so that children in the neighborhood have a safe place to play and learn. The Rivera’s regularly offer local opportunities to serve and help work and design in a process that includes tons of neighbors beyond the church.

The team exists to that Circle of Hope is explicitly involved in the good neighborhood work that’s happening They work to create more opportunities for people in or connected to our network to serve locally. Additionally, Friends of Hagert Street Playground will create more opportunities to raise funding for the Hagert Street Playground and Playgarden.

Visit our Facebook page.

Team Leader

Julius Rivera

Friends of H.A. Brown

About Us

Neighbors invested in H.A. Brown Elementary School. More details coming soon.

Team Leader

Lauren Stichter

Friends of Tree House Books

treehouseAbout Us

We want to support the work of an already existing non-profit, Tree House Books. Tree House Books is committed to growing and sustaining a community of readers, writers, and thinkers in North Central Philadelphia. They primarily work toward supporting children in the neighborhood through after school reading programs and a variety of other literacy based programs.

They are at an important crossroads of established relationships with children and parents in the neighborhood, a strong core group of volunteers, mostly from Temple University, and a strong connection to local civic groups. They are also only about a block and a half from the current Broad and Dauphin meeting space. Their building has both a bookstore, and after school community room, a community garden, and open space to meet. Our partnership with them could lead to more fruitful relationships with local community members, particularly families, and an opportunity to support literacy and reading in an area of the city marked by many school closings, lower academic achievement, and high levels of poverty.

Some of the specific ways in which we can support their work include:

  • Helping to gather volunteers for the after school program they run on weekdays

  • Leading prayer walks in North Central Philadelphia

  • Collecting books to help increase their collection

  • Contributing community members for parent/child reading groups

  • Supporting their community garden

Heads Together Haiti Support

haitiOur Mission

We support the exciting work of Heads Together, a Haitian nonprofit organization, that brings community members together from the area of Fayet, Haiti, to teach literacy and community leadership among adults and children, and to address local environmental problems.


Nick Fury

Visit our Facebook page.

Visit Heads Together Haiti’s main website.

Hope in Camden

 Our Purpose

  • To bring hope in Camden.
  • Make relationships with people and organizations in Camden.
  • Help Circle of Hope be known as a force for compassion in the region.
  • Give opportunities for Circle of Hope members to serve in their community.

Our Method

  • Start a collection of new backpacks to donate to Convoy of Hope outreach event taking place in Camden on Saturday, September 19th.
  • Attend the event and personally distribute the backpacks to children.
  • Share financially to the Convoy of Hope outreach event in the amount of $500 or more.
  • Be involved in the decision for how these donations are distributed fairly.

Team Leader

Pat McGowan

Neighbors Investing in Childs Elementary


For the Love of Childs has a broad mission to partner with staff, students, and parents from W.G Childs Elementary, which is located at 16th and Wharton.

Our team wants to follow this calling by investing our time, resources, and hearts into a partnership with staff, students, and parents at Childs. We recognize that schools are often the epicenters of neighborhood activity and serve as places where we will be able to connect with people we may not otherwise meet. In the process, we hope to engage the youth who attend Childs, by offering them opportunities for creativity, service, and possibly academic support.

At the heart of our team comes the conviction that those who are all ready part of the Childs community will know best what the school needs. We are dedicated to collaborating with people in the school community to define the initiatives and projects in which our team will engage.

For the Love of Childs Team will move with the Spirit is doing next, always seeking out opportunities for new ways to serve and connect to the Childs community. We are committed first and foremost to loving our neighbors and to the flexibility that is required of those working with schools.

If you are interested in joining us please contact Megan Rosenbach

Visit the NICE (Neighbors Investing in Childs Elementary) Facebook page.

Nuevas Esperanzas

nuevasOur Mission

Nuevas Esperanzas (NE), a transformational development organization walking alongside vulnerable communities in Nicaragua. Nuevas Esperanzas works in remote rural areas of Nicaragua, near Leon, bringing technical assistance and support as vulnerable communities seek to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

Visit Nuevas Esperanzas main website.

Visit the Nuevas Esperanzas Facebook page.

Prison Connections

prisonOur Mission

We desire to relate to and support people in prisons and their families/ friends, and work together to address punitive systems of incarceration with God’s love.


Art Bucher

Solidarity Beyond Borders

circle of hope, solidarity beyond borders, logoVision

We hope to address issues of the border and immigration using a Christ-centered approach (Matthew 25:35) and provide a space for Philadelphia organizations who are already working in this area.

Detailed approach

  • Partner with Philadelphia organizations already doing great work in this area (Juntos, New Sanctuary Movement, Nationalities Service Center have been mentioned)
  • Provide a space for those partner organizations to meet, collaborate, and have events
  • Host at least one future event/panel talking about these issues

Team Leader

Jordan Fazio

Urban Farm

gardenOur Mission

Is to resurrect dead or forgotten space in the city and make it life-giving to its neighborhood through intensive vegetable (and some fruit) gardening that is educational, reuses trash materials that litter our streets, provides food for neighborhood families, and simply makes things more beautiful.

Like Jesus, we are called to resist and restore… We are aggressively resisting the trend to globalize and industrialize one of God’s simple gifts to us from Creation: food. Urban farming is a direct affront to the injustice, illness, and environmental degradation caused by the industrialized food production and distribution system. We grow and harvest simple, real foods locally (fruits, vegetables, honey, edible fungi and weeds, etc.) and share them with each other and neighbors in a number of ways. Many of the areas we farm in are “food deserts” where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain as corporate agri-businesses and supermarket chains refuse to provide their goods. We make the food we produce available through Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSA’s), farmers’ markets, “Farm to Families” programs, and other means. We also plan to share our resources and skills by teaching regular classes on gardening, cooking and nutrition, composting, rainwater harvesting, local food systems, and other ideas.

The areas we live and farm in are often (but not always) under-resourced neighborhoods with tracts of land that are neglected and forgotten, exacerbating the problems associated with blight. Ironically in these areas, the forces of gentrification and redevelopment can often make the issues long time residents have faced even more difficult, complex, and dominating. Our work as servants of Jesus seeks to resist the negative impacts of gentrification by forming a partnering, inclusive, educational, and supportive network for any and all interested neighbors to help restore their land back to generative use. We want to provide fresh, healthy food for neighborhood families, harvest rainwater for crop hydration, repurpose salvaged materials to new and creative uses, and clean up trash strewn lots and littered streets to allow the beauty of the area to flourish. We imagine these gardens and farms to be centers of life, community, and education for the neighborhoods they are in.

Check out our tour from 2011!


The Urban Farm Team was originally formed in 2004 and has been an active Mission/Compassion Team of Circle of Hope ever since. There are currently five working gardens/farms in the network, representing three of our four congregations.

As a network Compassion Team, we imagine ourselves as a “coalition of tribes” in a healthy and diverse ecosystem, a “team of teams.” We want to create an organizational structure that supports the varying and distinct natures of each tribe’s region and area of focus. For example, some farms are for-profit and run successful CSA’s, others exist to give all the food away. Others have a vision for discipleship and intentional community, and others have yet to be formed. We want to honor many variations on the theme that supports God’s redemption project of the world.

To support this vision, Jeremy Avellino serves as the Network Urban Farm Team Leader, and each garden / farm has its own leader. Jeremy represents the Circle of Hope Network while directly coordinating, serving and supporting each individual farm leader, who in turn is freed up to lead their teams of workers in the ways they see fit to accomplish their specific vision.

Members, Farms, Gardens

Network Team Leader

Amanda Johnson –

Gloucester City Gardens

Our goal is to come alongside of other organizations to help develop small, community gardens around Gloucester City in order to help bring about the reconciling work of Jesus.

In 2010  the Gloucester City Tree & Beautification Committee presented a proposal to The City of Gloucester City requesting permission to transform vacant city properties into community gardens. After receiving approval and some essential assistance from the Camden Children’s Garden, an initial garden was started on city property at the corner of Atlantic & Market Streets.  Two more garden’s quickly followed, one provided by Max’s Seafood Cafe and one provided by Highland Park Church of God. It really is quite beautiful to think about faith communities, city government, and private business working together in a tangible way like this.

The overall purpose of these community gardens is tri-fold: 1) to beautify our city by utilizing vacant and otherwise unused lots 2) to provide a low-cost food option to our residents in difficult economic times and 3) to provide an opportunity for our community members to become more invested in the city and in their relationships with one another.

We are always on the lookout for new locations to garden, so we feel like the option of starting a new garden is always on the horizon. The gardens that have been begun need major workdays (shoveling new wood chips to the paths & mushroom compost to the beds). And with any garden, there’s the regular maintenance of watering beds & pulling weeds.

If you’d like to volunteer or more information, please feel free to contact Circle of Hope’s liaison to the garden, Nicole Jordan (609.680.1583,

Hicks St. Garden

The Hicks Street Garden, founded in 2007, is a public flower garden located at 1835 South Hicks Street in the Newbold neighborhood of South Philadelphia. The mission of the Hicks Street Garden is to create a welcoming, safe and beautiful place for neighborhood residents of all ages and backgrounds. We are an important part of a community that has very few public green spaces. Many residents see the garden project as a way to make the neighborhood greener, restore the quality of life for residents and make the entire neighborhood safer.  The garden, maintained entirely by neighborhood volunteers, is part of the Neighborhood Gardens Association/A Philadelphia Land Trust.

We always welcome new volunteers!  To get involved, check out the garden’s Facebook page or contact Mary Ward-Bucher at (267.266.2811,

5th and Diamond Urban Farm

We exist not as individuals, but parts of a whole. Through reconciliation and restoration we can live symbiotically with the Earth and each other. The farm at 5th and Diamond will act as a liaison between people and the natural world. By providing healthy food, educational opportunities, unity among neighbors and direct contact with the soil we can begin to heal our community. By tenderly caring for the land, understanding nature’s systems and giving back to the soil we can regain necessary connections with the Earth. We want to join with the Holy Spirit as God builds the Kingdom in North Philadelphia.

This season as we are literally breaking ground on the space at 5th and Diamond and there will be much work to do! Be looking for clean-up days and planting opportunities in the near future! We are going to plant as many vegetables and herbs as we can this season. I have seedlings growing in my window and seeds waiting to be planted in my refrigerator. We are hoping to meet many folks from the neighborhood and encourage them to join us. The food that will be grown this season will be shared with the neighborhood and volunteers. Goals to focus on in these first few months include forming relationships with neighbors, testing the soil, cleaning up lots, creating a rain-water collection system, amending the soil, building raised beds if necessary and developing a compost system.

For more information or to volunteer contact: Jess Shoffner (785.375.9393,

Frankford Ave. Garden

This farm is a collaboration of the young and the old working together and learning together. It has been shifting and changing for more than 6 years, but always proves to become a beautiful green space for neighbors to be proud of. Many people have dug there love, sweat and tears into that dirt. Figs, grapes and pears are tended, a wide variety of herbs, flowers, garlic, chives, chard, and tomatoes along with many other things are planted and harvested throughout the season. We share all the food and work with each other and the neighbors. It is important to understand this is a garden that takes lot of consistency and a deep knowledge of the plants that are already there. We love for people to be able to come, learn about the garden and help. We are working on having a calendar, regular scheduled days and work days for the big projects. If you would like to be a part of this farm project please contact Rachel Summerlot, Re: Frankford Garden. Please visit our blog theartichokeheart for more about what we have been doing.