Interfaith Encounters Day 2

Today the group from Alvernia University participated in two service-learning experiences.

First, we ventured to HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy.


Located in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia, HMS School serves children and young adults through age 21 who have complex, multiple disabilities usually resulting from cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury or other neurological impairment. Renowned for their success in empowering students, HMS’s day and residential programs maximize achievement and promote independence. Every child flourishes in a nurturing, respectful environment.

Each of the students went to various classrooms to participate in and to observe therapy and education.

I had the chance to drop in on music therapy sessions, speech and movement therapy, and various other activities that HMS’ wonderful staff lead.


After lunch, the group journeyed to Inglis House.

Since 1877, Inglis has made a commitment to helping people with disabilities. Inglis serves people living independently in the community, as well as those living in their residential long-term care community.


Inglis House is a specialty nursing care facility providing long-term, residential care for 297 adults with physical disabilities, including multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and stroke, among others.  Residents receive rehabilitative medical and nursing care; physical, occupational and speech therapies; and a selection of more than 20 social enrichment and therapeutic recreation programs every day.

Inglis is the largest provider of affordable, accessible housing in the Greater Philadelphia region with 208 housing units, and plans for 50 more units by 2015.

Our job today was to get the word out to residents about an upcoming piano and clarinet concert in Founders’ Hall. So we went around the three floors where residents live and told them about the concert. All the while, we interacted and got to know some of the residents and the very dedicated staff.

After the concert, a highlight of the day was meeting an Inglis resident who is an artist from Michigan. He showed us some of this paintings and even shared some of the poetry he has written.

Most importantly, he had us laughing our heads off! It was a fitting way to end our time at Inglis House.


Afterwards, we headed back to where the group is staying: First Presbyterian Church in Germantown.

I led a workshop that helped us explore the importance of asking good and curious questions in interfaith engagement and cooperation. Then, we explored the website Ravel/Unravel. The site, a program of Project Interfaith, includes over 1100 videos of people of various religious and secular backgrounds sharing their stories. I asked the students to watch a few videos and then to respond to them.

All in all, I appreciated their honest and insightful responses. I think the rest of this week will be very valuable and meaningful for us all. See you tomorrow!

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Josh grew up in the Midwest before completing a B.A. in Theatre at Northwestern College [IA] and a Masters of Divinity [M.Div.] at Princeton Theological Seminary [NJ]. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ [UCC], Josh has lived and worked in the Midwest, East Coast, Hawai’i, and Mexico. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Welcome Project PA, host of the Bucks-Mont PRIDE Festival, and he is Pastor of Love In Action UCC, an open and affirming congregation featured in a Vox Media episode of Divided States of Women with Liz Plank and in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Josh has 20+ years of nonprofit experience, including leading workshops and training in corporate, medical, and academic settings, focused on diversity & inclusion, grant writing, fund raising, and program management. Josh is a fellow of Interfaith Philadelphia, and designs and coordinates HS and University student groups for interfaith immersion service-learning weeks. Josh also co-facilitates Ally trainings for LGBTQIA+ inclusion and interfaith cooperation. He is a founding member of The Society for Faith & Justice, and a Collaborator for Nurturing Justice, and a member of the Driving PA Forward team via New Sanctuary Movement. He also performs regularly with the dinner theatre company, Without a Cue Productions, and has developed theatre arts curriculum for use in religious and secular settings. Josh also enjoys running, singing, traveling, learning languages, or making strange and funny faces. He lives in Center City Philly.

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