I was born and baptized at Westminster Presbyterian Church in 1937 and grew up there thoroughly enjoying various activities including Sunday school, Junior Church, VBS, Christian Endeavor, Circles, Choir, Camp Fire Girls, etc. My husband Bill and I were married in 1958 and raised our three children in all these great activities. In fact, our two sons were the last Eagle Scouts of Troop 86. The Presbyterian Children’s Village was in the two cottages (now Cornerstone) and the area known as Myers Playground.
Around the mid-1950s, Mr. Robinson, head of Acme Markets, died and left his beautiful estate in Rosemont, PA. to Presbyterian Children’s Village. It was decided to move the Presbyterian Children’s Village there. This took a large chunk out of our Sunday school, but we still needed more room, so Westminster purchased the two cottages. The Philadelphia Dept. of Recreation purchased what is now Myers Playground. This allowed for huge Vacation Bible Schools and we were able to move the Manse (parsonage) down from 58th and Whitby Ave.
After many years, older members had passed, moved in with younger loved ones, or were in nursing homes. Drugs, addiction, and crime gained a foothold in the neighborhood. The huge building needed extensive repairs and we, the remaining members were hard-pressed to come up with funds to maintain the church. Eastern College and Wayne Presbyterian church on Lancaster Pike have always had empathy for urban ministry. Evangelist and Eastern College Professor Tony Campolo grew up in the neighborhood; so along with Eastern College, they purchased the cottages and developed Cornerstone.
Ninth Presbyterian Church at 57th and Washington merged with us, bringing in enthusiasm, great choir voices, and wonderful new friendships. Wayne Presbyterian was wonderful with raising matched funds for 6 new roofs, a new gym, a new bathroom, an enclosed Greenway’s balcony, new carpeting in the sanctuary, a new kitchen and so many other blessings. One of the biggest and most needed blessings was a new heater. A huge stone building is freezing in the winter. We had fundraisers and gathered donations. We attended many meetings, prayed, and left no stone unturned.
I can truthfully say the Lord never left our side and never will. We feel that Salt & Light is well prepared for a wonderful revival of spiritual growth in SW Philly.