I’m a transplant to South Jersey so I look at maps often. (Or maybe I just like maps) This means I might know the contours and boundary lines of all our municipalities more than many native South jersey folks. All the towns seem to blend together as you drive up or down Rt. 130 or Kings Highway or Delsea Drive. or either of the Horse Pikes. My attention has yielded an awareness of one of the most oddly shaped municipal boundaries I have yet seen: the tiny strip of town between West End Ave and 42nd Street at Federal Street that connects the lower part of Pennsauken to the upper part.
Circle of Hope’s building at 3800 Marlton Pike is in that lower part of Pennsauken, On the east side of Rt. 130 is a neighborhood called Bloomfield which has Browning Rd and Lexington Ave as it’s thoroughfares. On the West side of 130 is a little slice of Pennsauken that many people is part of Camden. I think we should call this neighborhood “Pennsauken South” or “West Pennsauken South.” Neighborhood names are often the schemes of real estate developers, which I am certainly not, but wouldn’t a church be a much better instigator of community than somebody just looking to make a buck?
West Pennsauken South is a distinct little community with well kept lawns, narrow streets and tons of charm. When Gwyneth and I were moving to South Jersey we looked at a few houses in the neighborhood, but couldn’t find the perfect one available (though I’m sure the perfect one might still be here, but whoever owns it knows how perfect it is and won’t let it go).
We’ve got great neighbors like The Work Group who run a job training and educational program taht gives young people a chance to earn their high school diploma and launch them into achieving their professional goals. They do their induction ceremony in our space, and it is always so inspiring! Plus they mow our lawn 😉 We’ve got a bunch of small business owners like Francello’s Pizzeria, who just donated all the pizza for the “School’s Out” party we threw for all the kid’s getting out of school. We’ve got tons of diversity (at least five native languages on our block that I know of and probably more). We’ve got a bunch of people who care when caring is hard. We’ve got a bunch of people who love where they live and Circle of Hope is happy to “live” here too!
Plus we are right at the heart of the region across which our cells are scattered. All roads lead to the Airport Circle (where 38, 70, 130 and Admiral Wilson Blvd converge). This is good for our church planting efforts because we want to be a regional force for transformation. Our cells allow us to be local right here in West Pennsauken South (one of our cells meets right here at 3800 Marlton Pike — Shout out to Donna!), and we can be local in a lot of other places at the same time. However, Circle of Hope’s South Jersey Headquarters is in West Pennsauken South (let’s make that a thing! … maybe even start an official neighborhood association — I’m talking to people about it).
So let’s be neighbors! We’re glad we are, let’s do it well. In Jesus’ name, amen.