The History of CE National’s Inner City Ministry

In 1910 the Third Brethren Church began in a store front on the corner of Lee and Ontario Streets, Philadelphia, as a Bible study led by Pastor Harvey Cassel. The first building they acquired was a white picket fenced chapel that stood where the Urban Hope Training Center is now located.

In 1924, the present church building was built under the leadership of William Steffler. He led the congregation for over twenty years. Other pastors who led the ministry were Robert Cessna (1949-1955), Robert Crees (1955-1958), Robert Kern (1959-1967), Lee Dice (1967-1972), Wayne Baker (1972-1976), Alan Mangum (1977-1985), Steve Blake (1987-1991), and Ralph Robinson (1992-1998).

In October of 1998 The Third Brethren Church celebrated their conclusion as a church. They had seen hundreds of people saved and dozens go into vocational ministries, but the church people no longer lived in the immediate community. However, they wanted to see the ministry begin again with a new vision to reach the immediate community for Christ.

At that time the properties were given to CE National (a Church Effectiveness Ministry that’s affiliated with Charis Fellowship). CE National started Urban Hope Training Center in October of 1998 with the goal of reaching the urban family through youth and children and training believers in cross-cultural urban ministry. It continues to be blessed by many prayer warriors. Currently, over 1200 people each year participate in ministry teams at Urban Hope where they learn to share their faith in Christ with people back in their home community by sharing Christ with people here in Philadelphia. Urban Hope Community Church began a public Celebration Service on Easter Sunday of 2007. The church has grown from a handful of teenagers who came to know the Lord through the outreach programs to a group of over 200 that now includes entire families who have turned their lives over the Jesus Christ.

The facilities that will house the Urban Hope Training Center (UHTC) Los Angeles currently are being renovated. The three rooms for UHTC LA at the Grace Brethren Church of Norwalk had work started on them this summer by the Operation Barnabas teams, and more work has followed. A major push is underway for the first week of October with several CE staff members heading west to help in the project before the finishing touches are put in like decor and new carpeting in the training center room.

The dedication of these new facilities is set for Sunday afternoon, January 27, 2019 beginning at 5pm. There will be an open house and highlights shared of ministries as well as a light dinner will be served. Anyone interested in coming is welcome to attend.The event is free for all who would like to attend.

Please be praying with us as renovations are completed and celebrate with us for this new opportunity to equip and mobilize more people to live ON MISSION!

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