Rev. Bill Golderer
Convening Minister, Broad Street Ministry
Pastor, Arch Street Presbyterian Church
Bill was recruited in 2005 by a group of mainline protestant clergy from prominent congregations the Philadelphia area to breathe new life into a dormant landmark church along South Broad Street in Center City. After months of discernment, conversation and visioning, he embarked on the founding of Broad Street Ministry (BSM).
Beginning with less than $8,000 in seed capital and no existing congregation, BSM has grown into one of Center City’s largest and most dynamic worshipping congregations. Over the past nine years, BSM has greeted thousands who have encountered hard times and felt there was nowhere to turn. BSM also has ignited the imaginations of thousands of people of faith and good will who desire to make Philadelphia and the world a more just place.
BSM opens its doors to those who are vulnerable and seeking a safe place to socialize with others, sit down and share a hot meal, establish a mailing address, receive personal care items, and obtain clothes to replace those that are in shreds from being worn for several weeks. By the end of 2014, BSM will have:
BSM’s efforts extend beyond extending hospitality to the vulnerable among us. To date Bill’s creation of the Youth Initiative Program, BSM has hosted more than 2,000 youth from a diversity of faith traditions from around the country and local to the region to shape contextual service-learning education. Additionally, the creation of the Pastoral Immersion Program has given over 50 talented seminary graduates to date an opportunity to learn on-the-ground what civic-minded, reflective clergy practitioners can do to help shape a more just society.
To broaden and deepen BSM’s commitment to expansive hospitality for all Philadelphians, Bill created the BSM Hospitality Advisory Board in 2012 which enlists leaders from top hotels and restaurants to work alongside BSM by providing skilled volunteers, technical assistance, policy counsel, and funding support. Bill believes that the private sector is an invaluable contributor in making Philadelphia a beacon of compassion and solutions to intractable social problems. The Hospitality Advisory Board’s energy and resolve has proven invaluable in creating a more vibrant environment for business and tourism to work together to help our most vulnerable neighbors achieve better life outcomes. Members of the Hospitality Advisory Board (members attached) drive a new civic environment where the interests of commerce and compassion are not separated but profoundly linked.
The most striking result of this non-profit/for-profit collaboration is the creation of Rooster Soup Company. Partnering with James Beard Award–winning chef Michael Solomonov of Zahav and CookNSolo Managing Partner Steve Cook, Bill conceived a concept for Philadelphia’s first social venture, gourmet soup restaurant. The restaurant will provide jobs and a source of revenue for BSM’s “Hospitality Collaborative.” Together with these restauranteurs, Bill launched a Kickstarter campaign that successfully crowdfunded more than $179,000 from nearly 1,800 individuals to back the endeavor. The Rooster Soup Company will open in Center City in 2015 and 100% of its net profits will go sustain efforts to feed the hungry and welcome the vulnerable in our midst.
As valuable and enriching as these experiences are for the BSM community, the early vision for BSM included more than worship and hospitality for vulnerable neighbors. This vision also encompassed giving voices to the voiceless, and Bill has spearheaded a number of initiatives to address issues like the elimination of the death penalty, advocating for access to housing and mental health support for all, fair treatment of veterans, and working for the full inclusion of those marginalized because of sexual orientation—issues that often tear at the fabric of civil society. Bill is a proven convener who sees diversity of opinion as an opportunity for connection and dialogue when held with an open heart.
Mayor Michael Nutter recognized Bill’s leadership and asked him to serve as the Founding Chair of The Philadelphia Food Access Collaborative in 2012. The collaborative is a coalition of anti-hunger community leaders, volunteers, city government representatives, philanthropic organizations, and soup kitchens and their guests, who work to build the city’s capacity to provide nutritious meals and vital social services to Philadelphians in need. The Collaborative aims to have a community-driven emergency food system that is data-based, innovative, coordinated, and effective at improving individual, as well as community, health and well-being by providing access to nutritional meals while addressing compounding holistic concerns.
In 2008, Bill extended his pastoral ministry in Philadelphia when he became Pastor of Arch Street Presbyterian Church (“ASPC”) while continuing to serve as Founder and Convening Minister of BSM. Since 1851, Arch Street Presbyterian has been a worshipping congregation in the heart of Center City. When he arrived, this congregation was on life-support with membership dwindling to the single-digits. But after assembling a dynamic team of lay and professional leadership, ASPC has undergone a rapid and dramatic revitalization. The congregation is now a diverse and dynamic Sunday morning worshipping community of several hundred; a church that welcomes children and families of every configuration; and a church that struggles alongside people who aim to integrate their faith and work in the skyscrapers around it during the week.
To date, the most significant contribution this congregation has made to Philadelphia under Bill’s leadership is the founding and opening of the Arch Street Preschool. The preschool is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission of educating young children from a range of backgrounds and breaking down societal barriers that produce an inequality with regard to educational access. Bill spearheaded the efforts to preserve the original architecture of the space to create a joyful environment that can welcome children of executives from the Comcast tower alongside those children whose parents’ professional dreams have yet to materialize. Currently 44 percent of the families receive tuition assistance to attend.
Additionally, ASPC has partnered with the Foyer of Philadelphia to providing a safe haven for LGBTQ kids who are at risk living on the street this winter. There’s an estimated 3,275 homeless youth in Philadelphia right now and almost 1,300 homeless LGBTQ youth at risk. This winter, ASPC opened the “Night Resource Program” to provide 10 beds for people between the ages of 18 and 24 who identify as LGBTQ and are economically and socially vulnerable. Meals are served daily with counseling provided on-site. And while the solution is temporary, it’s one way for LGBTQ young people to find help, food, shelter, and advice from therapists in an environment free from discrimination.
Prior to working to help lift BSM off the ground in 2005, Bill served as the founding Director of the Center for Church Life at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City (2000-2003), where he was also a lecturer in reformed theology at Union Theological Seminary. His work at Auburn included creating opportunities for multi-faith understanding in the post-9/11 world and addressing the crisis of leadership that will confront the church in the coming decades.
Before his work in New York, Bill served as Associate Pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago from 1997-2000. His time there serving a congregation of more than 6,000 people was spent integrating the Gospel with the demands of everyday life through fellowship, advocacy/outreach programs, public forums, and discernment exercises.
Prior to this, Bill was the Founding Director for Religious Outreach for The Interfaith Alliance in Washington, D.C. This membership organization, which has grown to more than 150,000 members, works to promote interfaith cooperation around shared American values of civic participation, freedom of religion, diversity, and civility in public discourse, and it encourages the active involvement of people of faith in the nation’s political life.
Bill is a graduate of Southern Methodist University (B.A.) and Yale Divinity School (M.Div.), and he is an Ordained Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church, PC(USA). He has authored a number of articles and op-eds, contributed to several books, and has been a commentator for Huffington Post, CNN, and The History Channel. Bill continues to lecture and teach coursework at institutions including Princeton Theological Seminary, the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia. Bill serves on several governing and advisory boards of arts, social service, and social innovation organizations in the Philadelphia area. In 2010, he was named as one of Philadelphia’s 101 Emerging Connectors by Leadership Philadelphia.
Bill’s energies away from ministry are devoted to chasing adventure with his wife, Julie, reading, cooking, sustaining hope in all Philadelphia sports teams, and marveling at the wonders that are his two sons, Sebastian and Deacon.
To learn more about the work of:
BSM, visit broadstreetministry.org.
Fourth Presbyterian Church, visit fourthchurch.org
The Interfaith Alliance, visit theinterfaithalliance.org