PGM: Championing a Vision for Gospel Unity.

Philadelphia Gospel Movement held its first event to communicate broadly its vision and request support on November 16. The theme of the event was “Philadelphia Gospel Movement: Championing a Vision for Gospel Unity.” PGM’s big vision is to celebrate what God is already doing in our region and to facilitate networks of networks to catalyze greater unity in the body of Christ for greater Kingdom impact. After all, we can do so much more together than separately.  

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We held the same program three times that day, i.e. at breakfast on the Main Line at Aronimink Golf Club, at lunch at the American Bible Society in Center City, and in the evening at the Franconia Heritage Banquet Center in Telford. We especially thank our three site hosts for their help and support: Jeff Harvey, Dave Shoemaker and Josh Balmer.

The day was a great success! Our goal was mainly to describe the vision and strategy and connect with new people. Attendance met our expectations and we were able to make connections with 40 people new to PGM.  

The main speaker was Bob Doll, who is the Chairman of in New York. He has been a leading Christian businessman in the financial services sector including senior roles at Merrill Lynch and Nuveen. For 30 years, he has worked together with like-minded Christian leaders to mobilize the church. He partnered with Pastor Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian Church and Mac Pier the leader of Concerts of Prayer in New York to unify the influence of Christians in that city. This work evolved into the first Movement Day in 2010 and now an organization called which is encouraging similar efforts in cities around the US and the world.  

As Bob explained, the strategy is very intentional in joining leaders from the church, the nonprofit sector and the business community together. Each has its strengths in building up the body of Christ to make more disciples, to address the needs of the city and to have Christians be stronger individually and collectively. One example pointed to the growing percentage of the population going to church in Manhattan from a low point of 1% in the mid 1980’s, to 3% in the mid 2000’s to 5% by 2010.

His message revolved around 4 questions: 1) Why cities? 2) Why Movement Day? 3) Why Philadelphia? and 4) Why invest? The answers in brief: 1) numerically speaking and also in terms of influence, cities are where the large majority of significant growth is. 2) Movement Day grew up to be one expression where Christians in many metropolitan areas are gathering to work together in unity, to celebrate what God is already doing and be a catalyst for many more followers of Jesus to join the movement. 3) Philadelphia is an important city, and God is at work here, although there is a strong sense that Kingdom impact could be much more significant if/when the church and Christians become more united. 4) While not trying to build a large organization per se, it does take investment to nurture the relationships at a scale that will move the needle regionally.

Complementing the message from Bob Doll were presentations by Dave Shoemaker, the chair of I AM for Philly (the marketplace arm) and Glenn McDowell. Dave gave a brief history of how the marketplace team started and a summary of the first breakfast on October 3. He concluded by emphasizing the “I AM” as God being the source of our being and energy as well as the commitment being made as all of us being for Philly. The I AM for Philly effort was highlighted in PGM’s last newsletter dated November 28. 

Glenn McDowell gave the overview of Philadelphia Gospel Movement. His message started with a description of the problem in Philadelphia being Unbelief, Poverty, and Disunity and isolation in the body of Christ. He concluded with the exhortation that “One God is sending One Church on One mission for One city.” His conclusion picked up on a wonderful video produced by a comparable movement underway in Charlotte, the link to which is For Charlotte.