calendar January 30, 2023 in Advocacy

Rev. Little Recognized By PA Housing Alliance

The Rev. Violet Little, pastor of The Welcome Church in Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, was recognized with the Frontline Leader Award at the state’s Homes Within Reach Conference. More than 800 attended the conference, hosted by the Housing Alliance of PA, of which LAMPa is a member. The award recognizes those whose work inspires and uplifts and puts the needs of those they serve front and center.

In her remarks, Little expressed that she accepted the honor on behalf of the community in which she serves.

Excerpts from her remarks:

“Several years ago in the weeks before Christmas, a woman in our community came up to me asking if we could speak alone. We wandered off to a quiet corner of the room where we had gathered for tea and Bible Study and Ruth (name changed) handed me a large gift bag from the Dollar Store, saying “Merry Christmas.”

The bag was stuffed with a fluffy white mass and immediately my hand began to stroke the top of the bag. Upon touching, I noticed whatever she had given me was damp. Ruth looked at me and said, ”I am sorry it’s still wet but I washed it for you.”

I pulled the gift out of the bag and realized what the gift was—Ruth had given me her blanket. The one she slept with in the train station. The one that she had washed in the same women’s bathroom where we had first met.

At the heart of the ministry of The Welcome Church is a tiny preposition—with—not to or for but with.

I accept this award on behalf of Ruth and all those amazing folks who live on the front line every day and have made room for me to walk with them as we all struggle to find a way home together. A special thank you to Schaunel Steinnagel, my co-pastor and to my husband Willie, who supported me in spite of thinking I was crazy to start a congregation that began in a run-down women’s bathroom of a Center City train station.”

In presenting the award, Housing Alliance board member Schenaria Ashley called Little “a great advocate who makes sure those in power hear from those whom she serves.

“One of her gifts has always been to see people and hear their stories. Her power as a network on the frontlines of poverty in the city of Philadelphia has helped to bring attention and resources to folks who are often overlooked. She lifts up the stories of people experiencing periods of homelessness to help Philadelphia, rather than marginalize their voices.”

Little also founded the Homeless Justice Network in the ELCA. She was also instrumental in founding The Well, an overnight shelter for women, which operates at Christ’s Presbyterian Church in South Philadelphia. The Bethesda  Project covers the regular staffing of The Well, and thanks to its success, the City of Philadelphia pays for the staff.

Artwork and knitted gifts donated to the Housing Alliance fundraiser by the community of The Welcome Church.

“As you can see,” Ashley said, “Rev. Little always deploys her community-building skills when taking on any project. Rev. Little has built an entire network around the people she helps who seek permanent housing, proving once again that when we all work together, we all win.”

LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale said she nominated Little for the recognition so that the community with which she serves may be lifted up as well.

“Violet is so good about reminding us all that in beloved community there is mutual service,” DePasquale said. As an example, The Welcome Church donated a gift basket of artwork and items knitted by the community as a donation to the Housing Alliance’s fundraiser.

Lutherans, through LAMPa, have worked as part of the Housing Alliance for decades towards a commonwealth where everyone has a safe place to call home.  To join Little and others from The Welcome Church and around Pennsylvania in our statewide housing action team, drop us a note here with HOME in the subject line. 


Originally published by Lutheran Advocacy Ministry In Pennsylvania.