Salvation Army preps for Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia

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PopeinPhillyThe Pendel Brass Band will perform during the Festival of Families event Saturday.

The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) is rallying 100 volunteers from Greater Philadelphia, the Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Division, and sister divisions to distribute food and beverages to emergency responders working in Philadelphia for Pope Francis’ visit this weekend.

 Volunteers will staff EDS canteen trucks at six fixed locations throughout center city, old city and the art museum areas cordoned off to incoming vehicle traffic. Over the course of two days, volunteers will hand out a total of 93,000 pre-packaged lunches and hot dinners, courtesy of Wawa. They will also travel throughout the secured areas delivering meals to emergency personnel at more than 50 sites.

“EDS is committed to supporting our city’s police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, streets department workers and public works staff members who will be working around the clock that weekend,” said Bob Myers, director of The Salvation Army Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Division’s EDS. “This is a great opportunity for The Salvation Army to serve the community during this historic event.”

The Salvation Army’s Pendel Brass Band is also preparing for Pope Francis’ visit, set to perform at Logan Circle during the Festival of Families event on Saturday, Sept. 26. As many as 50 Salvation Army brass and timbrel musicians will take to the stage to play for the crowd expected to top one million. The performance will also be accessible via live stream on Periscope.

“This performance is a joining of Christian faiths, both committed to the needs of the hungry and the poor through the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Pendel Brass Music Director Gavin Whitehouse.

The papal performance is a family affair for the Avery family. Major Carl Avery, Major Kathryn Avery and their 23-year old son, Jon, will be among those playing with the Pendel Brass. Carl Avery, divisional financial secretary, and son Jon, divisional youth program specialist, both play coronet. Kathryn Avery, secretary for the division, plays the alto horn.

“Music connects people on many levels,” Carl Avery said. “When God’s a part of that mix, it’s a very special event.”

As The Pontiff told Salvation Army General André Cox in a personal meeting in December 2014, despite theological differences between The Salvation Army and the Catholic Church, both have a shared dedication to serving the homeless, the hungry and the poor united through the love of God and one another.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf will address the crowd at Independence Hall prior to Pope Francis’s remarks at the Moment of Religious Freedom event tomorrow. He will welcome Pope Francis to Pennsylvania and speak about the rich history of Independence Hall and the importance of the location as a backdrop for Pope Francis’ message of tolerance.

“I am honored to welcome Pope Francis to Pennsylvania at Independence Hall, where the founding fathers laid the foundation for the land of the free,” Wolf said. “Throughout his trip so far, the Holy Father has stressed the importance of tolerance and care for our least fortunate and he inspires all of us to look for ways we can be more inclusive and better help those in need.”

 The last time a pope visited Philadelphia was Pope John Paul II​ in 1979.

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