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A Partnership with Goats

The Church of the Holy Apostles partnered with the Philly Goat Project to help clear invasive plant species. They also planted seeds in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Quick, what do building community, getting rid of invasive plant species, and evangelism have in common?

Would You Believe Goats?

At Church of the Holy Apostles in the PennWynne section of Wynnewood, four goats from the nonprofit Philly Goat Project managed to help achieve that strange trifecta of goals during their memorable eight-day visit in May 2021, says the Rev. James Stambaugh, rector of Holy Apostles.

Since the Philly Goat Project considers building community its “cornerstone,” it was a match made in heaven.

While the goats took care of clearing invasive plant species the old-fashioned way by day, they also quickly turned it into a spectator sport, as large and enthusiastic crowds of children and families from the community came to watch them. The church promoted through social media, put out large banners advertising the goats’ visit, and sent home flyers with children who attend a day care that rents space at Holy Apostles.

One of the highlights was the evening “goat walk,” with trained adult volunteers leading the goats. Each goat, trained to respond to hand and voice signals, also had leads for three children to take turns walking with them. 

“We know the church is a spiritual resource for the whole neighborhood and we have a certain kind of a spiritual responsibility to pray for, to be present to, the whole neighborhood—whether or not all of our neighbors come to our church or give money or not. That's not the point. The point is we are the light of Christ here in this neighborhood, and that's our mission and our calling.”