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Open Mic Night Helps Philadelphia Church Reach Community

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In a neighborhood that values the arts, Open Mic night is one way a small Christian Reformed church plant, Mount Airy Community Church in Philadelphia, reaches out to its neighbors.

Three times a year, the church, whose base is a dance studio on a busy corner with coffee shops and lots of foot traffic, hosts the free event for anyone in the community. The most recent Open Mic was held on September 21.

“Many people in our neighborhood are creative and appreciate the arts,” said Cindy Lees, community advocate for Mount Airy. “We view the Open Mic nights as a way to serve our neighbors by giving them a place to express their talents.”

People played the guitar, sang, and some brought puppets. Allen Drew, the pastor at Mount Airy, sang an a capella Irish ballad as well as a Prince song, to which one of the attendees asked, “Are you sure you’re really a pastor?”

But the night wasn’t just all fun. There was a serious tone as well as people came out to share their creativity with others. One woman showed up just before the event was ending, and people began to clean up. However, Drew welcomed her. “You came this far in the rain,” he said. “We’re here; go ahead and perform. We will listen.”

That wasn’t the evening’s only impromptu performance. A family of four came thinking a relative of theirs would be performing, but he didn’t show up. The family stayed; after a while the son, a young boy who normally has difficulty communicating, sang a song. “He was able to sing every word with great pitch and rhythm,” Lees said. “It was a blessing to have him perform.”

“It is a joy to be able to clap, cheer on, and support our neighbors,” Lees says. “With each Open Mic, we pray that God will use the venue to allow us to connect and develop relationships with more of our neighbors.”

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