We are committed to the full respect for and the inclusion of all people in every aspect of our worship. Single or coupled, of every race or ethnicity, every gender, every sexual orientation, every age, every “station” and class, everyone at St. Mary’s is engaged in liturgy together. No one is more important than any other one. Ministers, lay and ordained alike, have different but equally essential roles.
St. Mary’s was in the forefront of racial integration in the Episcopal Church and in Philadelphia, advocated early and strongly for the inclusion of women in leadership positions in the church and the ordained ministry, and later was the first venue in Philadelphia for lesbian and gay religious advocacy organizations in the church, as well as being the first safe gathering place for lesbian and gay youth in the city. For four years in the 1960s, our tower provided sanctuary to Vietnam War resisters. As an early response to the AIDS epidemic, we founded a respite center for children and families affected by HIV/AIDS. A survey of worshipers at St. Mary’s in the summer of 2011 indicated that radical hospitality and openness are central to our identity and community. This hospitality is felt through our Eucharist, which is open to all, and other communal meals like third Sunday brunches, Fat Tuesday pancakes, and coffee hour after worship. All who come into our doors are fed and given strength to feed others. A radical welcome means that all people, whether homeless, severely poor, disabled, or otherwise “outside” society, are joyfully welcomed into our fellowship. Our commitment to inclusion, diversity and social justice continues today. Our members, occasional and regular worshipers, participants in our outreach efforts and those of our mission partners, are drawn from the University City community, students, faculty and employees of Penn and other local institutions, as well as Greater Philadelphia.