On Wednesday, May 30th I arrived at The Simple Way for a week-long stay. Their Hospitality House is a three-bedroom row house located on “H” Street in Kensington, Pennsylvania. I had the run of the place: the other person scheduled to be here at the same time re-scheduled.
There’s a plaque on the wall of each of the bedrooms. In addition to posting the house rules — such as no firearms or weapons of any kind, no alcohol or illegal substances, no taking photos or video of our neighbors and neighborhood – the plaque also said this:
The Simple Way is a faith-based non-profit organization that has been living and working here for over 10 years. Formerly a factory town, the surrounding neighborhood is called Kensington. The row houses, like the one you are in, were built around the factories, some by the factory owners themselves. Over the past 40 years, many of the factories have moved out of the neighborhood, and we have lost over 200,000 jobs. You can see over 500 abandoned factories and over 20,000 abandoned houses. This neighborhood is one of the most ethnically diverse in Philadelphia, with a pretty even mix of African-American, Latino (mostly Puerto Rican and Dominican), and white folks (many Polish and Irish descendants of the factory days).
The Simple Way is a web of subversive friends, many of whom live within walking distance of the Hospitality House. We are committed to Loving God, Loving People, and Following Jesus. While it has its struggles, we believe Kensington is poised for resurrection.