By Jenn Mirel
Being a part of the Gateway program this summer has been a great opportunity for me to learn and witness different expressions of faith, attended worship services I had not had the opportunity to before, and see the incredibly welcoming nature of these different congregations. As a third party staff member of these visits I was able to watch others go through this program and have their own experiences and reactions. Overwhelmingly, I observed those who attend these events look to find the commonalities between the new worship service they are visiting and those of their own faiths. Rather than looking for differences that could make them uncomfortable in this new place they looked for what was familiar and how they could share that with this community. In turn, I myself was able to see a how a variety of faith communities demonstrate their faith through prayer. And also witness how these communities use their faith as a place of inspiration to help those around them. Those they help are not necessarily people from their own congregation, they are simply those in need without somewhere else to go. Throughout all of the visits an emphasis was put on a greater community that links all of Philadelphia and is not determined by any one faith tradition. This unity and a conscious desire to improve our city was amazing to see.