MEDIA, Pa. — The Delaware Valley Christian Church (DVCC) incorporates the Christian moral “love thy neighbor” in its partnership with Penn State Brandywine. From helping students move into Orchard Hall to making monthly donations to the University’s food pantry and treating campus staff to appreciation breakfasts every year, the DVCC shows how much it deeply cares to help its local community.
Located across the street from Brandywine, DVCC’s partnership with Brandywine began in the 1970s. At the beginning of the partnership, Brandywine consisted of just one building, and the church offered its space to use as classrooms. The partnership continued into the 2000s; DVCC guided the Nittany Christian Fellowship, a student club on campus.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the partnership came to a halt. As restrictions were relaxed, church elder David Shellenbarger decided the partnership needed a reset.
“We elders decided that the partnership needed to start over again,” Shellenbarger said. “We started to examine our mission statement, which is ‘love God, love people,’ and we took into consideration what that meant to us.
“We wanted to focus on serving our community, especially the Brandywine community.”
From there, Shellenbarger and DVCC began working with Brandywine closely, specifically with the Center for Social Impact.
“I talked with the former Rosenberg Director of the Center for Social Impact Vippy Yee to see what the church could do to help, and she let me know about the food pantry,” he recalled. “Around that same time, I had gotten a letter from former Penn State University President Eric Barron, who mentioned there was a food shortage on all campuses. With all of this combined, I knew the church needed to do something to help.”
"With all of this combined, I knew the church needed to do something to help."
—David Shellenbarger , elder, Delaware Valley Christian Church
Since then, the DVCC has been making monthly donations to Brandywine’s food pantry and has helped out at many different campus events, including move-in day at Orchard Hall, the club involvement fair, staff appreciation breakfasts, and Brandywine Music Association jam sessions. The church also has worked in the campus garden and mentored the Nittany Christian Fellowship. In addition, Brandywine engineering students provided a consultation with the church to determine how to deaden the sound in the Fellowship Hall.
In the future, the church is hoping to partner more with the Brandywine Music Association by singing Christmas carols. It also hopes to hold Thanksgiving dinners for students who can’t go home for the holiday, as well as provide free trivia nights for students to take part in.
“This partnership is just an organic thing that keeps on growing,” said Shellenbarger. “The way we look at it is we believe God is opening doors. We just walk through them and see if there’s a place we can help.”
Shellenbarger said the partnership between Brandywine and DVCC is so special because it allows students and members of the church to connect and build relationships with their neighbors.
“For us, it’s just the fun of being able to serve our neighbors, meet new people and build relationships,” he said. “Our church is a very relational group — everybody knows everybody. During our regular services, there are probably only 60 of us. It’s been exciting to even watch the people at DVCC when we go back and tell them about the partnership. They get so excited. They provide so much support and bring so many items to donate.”