Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
8000 St Martin’s Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19118
The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel, Rector
The Church of St. Martin in the Fields, Chestnut Hill, was recognized as a Zone of Peace in the fall of 2017. St. Martin’s has a distinguished history which includes decades of active response to the needs of others, locally and globally. Currently, the congregation’s focus is on learning how to put relationships first, how to abandon a self-understanding of St. Martin’s as a congregation that “helps those less fortunate,” and grows toward an emphasis on reconciliation among diverse members and neighbors. This process of transformation involves learning to listen and learning to overcome racism, classism, sexism, and (for Caucasian members) white privilege.
St. Martin’s members have thus embarked on an intense effort to recast their approach to the community. Language is changing: “outreach” has become “community engagement;” a “feeding program” has become “a meal we all share;” youth no longer do “service projects” but have in- depth encounters with other cultures; children don’t go to St. James School in North Philadelphia to help, but join the students there for activities, worship and a meal. Refugee Resettlement focuses on providing a “community” rather than a “home.”
St. Martin’s is doing many things to address the root causes of violence in an exemplary way. As they carry out their concern for issues challenging their community, the city of Philadelphia and the world, their leaders have an extraordinary degree of self-awareness. With members of the congregation and community partners, they are working on transforming the congregation’s identity and its modes of engagement with the larger community.