calendar September 28, 2009 in News

The Welcome Church installs pastor

The Rev. Violet Little (left, in purple) was installed Sunday, Sept. 27 as pastor of The Welcome Church. (Photos by the Rev. Jesse Brown)

The Welcome Center, a new church without walls in Center City that extends a special welcome to people experiencing homelessness, installed the Rev. Violet Little as pastor on Sunday afternoon in Rittenhouse Park.


Welcome Church members and friends gathered near the gazebo at Rittenhouse Park.

Bishop Claire S. Burkat, the Rev. Patricia Davenport, SEPA mission director, and the Rev. Jay Weisner, Central Conference Dean, took part in the installation service.  The preacher was The Rev. Debbie Little, founder of Ecclesia Ministries and the Common Cathedral, which offers a similar ministry on Boston’s Commons.

The Rev. Debbie Little of Eccleia Ministries/Common Cathedral in Boston offers the sermon.

Begun in 2007 as an outreach of the Church of the Holy Communion in Center City, the Welcome Church is now a mission of the ELCA. The original respite center, known as the Welcome Center, offered homeless persons a place to be off of the streets for a few hours and enjoy a meal, tea and recreation.

Members and friends of The Welcome Church participated in the service.

Through time the community has become a congregation, Violet Little says.

"I get calls when people are sick or in prison, and I visit people at their homes on the streets," Little said in a 2008 interview. "It feels like a congregation – a congregation without walls."

"A lot of people who live on the streets are self-conscious about going to church on Sunday," Little said. "This service will be a safe place where they don’t have to worry about how they’re dressed."