At home in the city
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Chris Book ’78 and his wife, Marlys, moved to Harrisburg in 1985, after Chris’ work with Paxton Ministries attracted them to the city. Interested in involving their family in urban living, the Books enrolled their children in the city’s public schools.
Those such as Glenn, Kirk, and Beckwith who’ve graduated within the last decade are the fastest- growing group of Messiah alumni moving to the city; but Messiah’s connection to urban environments is as old as the College itself. Founded in 1909, Messiah first opened its doors in Harrisburg city. Soon after,
the College established a partnership with Bethesda Mission to serve homeless people in Harrisburg and in subsequent years has collaborated with an increasing number of organizations, which today includes countless urban-outreach programs all over the globe.
“It is clear in the 21st century that the center of politics, economics, arts, and social change will be happening in urban contexts,” explains Messiah College President Kim Phipps. “To adequately educate Messiah graduates to lead lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation, it is essential that we provide urban-study programs that are not solely theoretical, but also
To this end, the College operates the Philadelphia Campus, established in 1968, where today, 85 Messiah students each semester take classes at Temple University. And in 2002, the College established the Harrisburg Institute, Messiah’s residential and study program in downtown Harrisburg that relocated this fall into a newly renovated living and learning facility, accommodating 25 students each semester.
“Particularly in the last decade,” says Phipps, “our institution has become increasingly aware of our theological and ethical responsibility to be salt and light in urban areas. Our alumni and educators who are living and working in the city are seeking to model community and to demonstrate the difference that individuals can make in improving the lives of others.”
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