By Carl Stagner
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For those who’ve never been there before, mention of the City of Brotherly Love might conjure up images of scrumptious cheesesteak and the historic Liberty Bell. But to those who call it home, Philadelphia is so much more. That may be why Church of God locals are so eager to talk about their beloved hometown ahead of the third and final Regional Convention slated for September 27–29 at New Covenant Church.
Things to do
Earl Palmer is the senior pastor of Brand New Life Christian Church of God in Philadelphia. He appreciates scenery, and insists that even in the city, there are plenty of vistas. One, in particular, is Boathouse Row. Historic 19th-century boathouses flank the Schuylkill River in the heart of Philadelphia. While the location is frequented by rowers of all skill levels, the stunning architecture and nightly illuminated structures make for a Christmas-light-like display that runs year-round, exchanging colors as the seasons or events change. Boathouse Row is situated just west of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is a favorite of Sam Grannum.
Sam, the youngest son of Reclaim 2016 speaker and New Covenant Church co-senior pastor Milton Grannum, calls the art museum a good representation of the aesthetics of the city. “From the steps, you can see all the way down to city hall,” he explains. “It’s a tremendous view. Depending on what’s occurring in the city, they’ll add color, a different flavor…it rallies Philadelphians. We’re not stale. Sure, we’re known as the birthplace of America, but we’re current and want to continue to attract awareness of the beauty of our city.”
In this birthplace of America—so named for the location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution—you’d expect a number of museums to dot the landscape. And you’d be right. David Stevens, pastor of Christ Center Church of God in Philadelphia, says there are numerous museums showcasing this rich history. One he cites is the Betsy Ross House, which tells the story of one of the nation’s first to sew the American flag.
Don’t miss: The Liberty Bell, Lincoln Drive, historic “row” houses, the Delaware River Waterfront and Penn’s Landing, and Independence Mall.
Food to eat
When you come to the Regional Convention in Philadelphia, you could just satisfy your hunger at all of the chain restaurants and fast-food establishments. Or you could take in some of the best of Philadelphia for a taste of the culture, too. Sam explains, “There are a lot of places in the Mount Airy neighborhood that are within walking distance from the church.” He mentions Tiffin Indian Cuisine, an Italian favorite known as Bacio, and another called Stella Sera. “Chestnut Hill is a section of town right down the street from the church within walking distance. It reminds you of the Independence Mall area of the city with its architecture, cobblestone streets, bistros, and shops.”
Earl Palmer highly recommends Hibachi of Jenkintown for those who want high-quality Japanese food. Not-so-original, but nevertheless delicious, Earl recommends McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood and Steak, as well as Grand Lux Café just outside of Philadelphia in nearby King of Prussia.
Don’t miss: Mt. Airy Deli, Dalessandro’s Steaks, and Chef Ken’s Café.
Worth a visit
There’s so much to see, do, and eat in Philadelphia. Perhaps there’s no better time to visit than in conjunction with the Regional Convention this September. You’ll see for yourself how the City of Brotherly Love really does live up to its name. “Philadelphia is a big city,” David Stevens says, “But it’s a city of neighborhoods. It’s friendly.”
The first word that pops into Sam Grannum’s head when he things about Philadelphia is authenticity. “I’ve traveled many places, made friends in many places, but there are certain places you go and connect with someone, but ultimately it’s somewhat superficial. People are being cordial. But in Philadelphia, it is a genuine connection. You just don’t find that everywhere.”
Earl Palmer sees Philadelphia as a microcosm of the United Nations. The Jamaican native celebrates the widespread diversity and the relatively harmonious blend of the various ethnic groups. “But I will also say the city has a heritage of the importance of the gospel,” he adds. “There is a great harvest here for churches.”
Make plans today to attend the third-and-final Church of God Regional Convention at New Covenant Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 27–29. For more information, a schedule of events, hotel information, and registration, visit http://www.chogconvention.org.