GERMANTOWN, Pa. (BRN) — Dan Towner, discipleship director at Watershed Church in Philadelphia, recently attended an organizational meeting of the upcoming Send Relief Serve Tour, bringing with him a man who was blown away by the opportunities presented.

At the urging of his pastor, Eric McMahon, Towner prayerwalked the Strawberry Mansion community in Philadelphia,  but it was another community that captured his heart.

Dan and DIn Germantown, where he has been prayerwalking since October 2022, he went to an area where his church once did a service project during their “Fifth Sunday Serve.” In the middle of an ice storm on a Sunday morning, the church handed out food in containers to the residents.

“I felt the Lord say, ‘Don’t forget this area,” Towner shared. “I couldn’t shake the area and kept feeling God drawing me to go back.”

And that he did. He didn’t engage right away, but just prayed. Sometimes he would just park his car and pray. Other times, he walked through the community and prayed.

One day, he decided to call the local Community Development Corporation (CDC) in the neighborhood so he would know better how to pray. The executive director, whom we’ll call “D” to respect his privacy, answered the phone, heard Towner’s question, and answered, “Where are you? I’ll meet you in three minutes!”

The CDC is a new concept for Germantown, Towner explained. There are several run-down empty buildings, along with corner stores, where too often there are drug dealings and violence. Just this past summer, there were three shooting deaths.

Towner wanted to partner with D, who also was a Christian, and be his friend and equip him to be a disciple maker. He quickly learned about D’s vision. There was a building across the street from his office that he was in the process of buying. His dream was to turn the building into a youth enrichment community center. His goal is to “change the climate of the neighborhood,” Towner said. “If they see it, they can have hope!” D told him.

As Towner spent more time with D, he met more people in the neighborhood. They initially mistook Towner as an undercover police officer, but D told them he was a minister. “He is here to help us do some good!” D said.

Then one day, conversations about the September 15-16 Send Relief Serve Tour started. Towner decided to take D to the organizational meeting, where everyone learned how churches throughout the country were invited to spend two days in service helping ministries in Philadelphia. Local ministries and churches were to submit their project ideas. It was a no brainer to Towner that he and Watershed needed to submit the building repair as a project for the Serve Tour.

D’s reaction to the offer was priceless.

“He got really emotional at the Serve Tour meeting and said he has been praying a long time for such help,” Towner said, who believes this community center will be a gospel “gateway and connector” in Germantown. He already is praying for  God to reveal the families and youth who are “people of peace” (people God has prepared to spread the gospel) in the area. He foresees how disciples will be made, and a church will be planted as “the Father draws them,” Towner said.

LaSalle students
Planning meeting with some students from LaSalle University, who are helping with the Community Development Corporation’s branding.

“I can’t wait to see who God is drawing to work through them. Minimally and definitely, it is me!” D said.

Towner said he prays a couple times a week throughout the neighborhood. “It is hard at times, for sure,” he said, ” but it doesn’t feel like work to me. Sometimes God throws you a gem!”

BRN Compassion Ministries Director Buff McNickles invites all BRN churches in and around Philly to participate in this incredible weekend of compassion ministry. He is also urging other regions throughout our nation to come and serve.

The goal of the Serve Tour is to be the vehicle through which churches demonstrate the love of Christ in the city by engaging in compassion ministry.

“What a difference we could make! By partnering with the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania and South Jersey, Send Relief is making it easy for you and your team to have a real, lasting impact in the lives of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable. And our goal and our hope is to start a movement that goes far beyond that weekend,” McNickle said.

Those interested can register at to receive early access to resources like prayer guides, online trainings, and promotional materials. Contact Pastor Gerald Waters (267-252-1217, with questions.