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Church History

The combined history of Salt and Light (formally New Spirit Community Church and Grace Christian Fellowship) spans 160+ years of ministry and service to the Southwest Philadelphia community.

1854
The Presbytery of Philadelphia approves the establishment of Westminster Presbyterian Church at Broad and Fitzwater.
1858
Abby and William C. Longstreth founded The Greenway Sabbath School to teach and nurture the children of Southwest Philadelphia.
When the neighborhood realized the need for an established church, Rev. Henry E. Thomas became the first pastor of the Greenway Presbyterian Church which merged with Westminster in 1906.
1822
The Associate Reformed Church merged with the PCUSA. The Second Associate Reformed Church became part of the Second Presbytery of Philadelphia, and was renamed Ninth Presbyterian.
1841
Ninth members dedicated a new building at the corner of Sixteenth and Sansom where it remained until 1911 when it relocated to Fifty-Seventh Street and Washington Avenue.
1996
Ninth Presbyterian and Westminster Presbyterian merge and become New Spirit Presbyterian Church housed in the Westminster building.
2005
Rev. Cean and Kesha James begin a bible study in their home which eventually becomes Grace Christian Fellowship.
Picture of early GCF Bible Study
The church chooses Southwest Philadelphia as its mission field and begins worshiping at Williams and Palmer Funeral home (71st and Woodland Ave.)
2006
GCF purchases a church home from the Archdioceses of Philadelphia at 6208 Grays Ave.
2012
GCF launches a satellite location in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. GCF also officially unites with the United Church of Christ
2014
Wayne Presbyterian Church assumes responsibility for New Spirit’s Church building
Through an extensive capital campaign, Wayne Presbyterian rehabs the building and establishes The Common Place as a child and family focused nonprofit in Southwest Philadelphia. Rev. Christopher Holland is called as pastor of New Spirit while Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle serves as organizing pastor of TCP.
2016
GCF and NSCC begin to share ministry with joint Vacation Bible School and Resurrection Day worship services.
2018
Revs. James, Holland, and Brooks-Lytle begin to explore the possibility of GCF and NSCC merging their ministries and being planted at TCP.
2020
In the middle of a worldwide pandemic, GCF and NSCC merge to form Salt & Light; a 600 member congregation worshiping in two locations, that is PCUSA and UCC. Rev. James as Senior Pastor and Rev. Holland as Executive Pastor.
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