Aisha Brooks-Lytle is ready to hit the ground running as she transitions into her role as board president for East Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN). The pastor at Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church has settled into the neighborhood over the last two years and wants to expand her mission to bring the community together.
To Brooks-Lytle, the importance of community involvement is clear. As she looks up at the beautiful stained glass inside the church she remarks that she sometimes wishes the glass were clear, as a reminder to the congregants that there is a whole world out there.
“We all care for the same thing, the community,” Brooks-Lytle said with an ear-to-ear smile.
EMAN’s financial challenge
Over the next few months, EMAN will have to work rigorously to attract new members and close a $5,000 deficit that is weighing over the community organization—struggles that Brooks-Lytle is not afraid of. She laughs and says that she is not afraid to piece together the “puzzles.”
“At the end of the day, we all care about how we interact as neighbors,” Brooks-Lytle said.
Executive Director Elayne Bender is looking forward to a future with Brooks-Lytle.
“She has a very magnetic personality,” Bender said, adding that Brooks-Lytle can be “firm when she needs to be but is willing to compromise in order to help people work together.”
Outgoing president Dan Muroff echoes that sentiment. At the EMAN annual board meeting, he called the transition “exciting,” describing Brooks-Lytle as being “full of energy.”
Mt. Airy’s diversity attracted her
In her years as pastor, Brooks-Lytle has learned a lot about bringing a community together. In 1998, she worked as a middle school youth director at Wayne Presbyterian while completing her degree in music at Temple University. The experience pulled her into theology and she went on to study divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary.
During her coursework, she was asked to write a term paper detailing her ideal holistic church. Brooks-Lytle wrote about a church with diversity, one that was close to the suburbs and could potentially bring together groups of people who would not come together in habitual situations. When an opening appeared at the Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church, Brooks-Lytle saw an opportunity for her vision become reality.
In the office of Mt. Airy Presbyterian, Brooks-Lytle can hardly sit still. She is excited for the work that is ahead and acknowledges that it will not be an easy feat. She is counting on the help of other board members, such as newly elected Vice President Kent Reichert, to aid in the transition. The pair worked extensively together with a committee to raise money for the “Swing into Spring” fundraiser this past May.
EMAN will be looking for you
EMAN will take a break from public meetings over the summer as they work to bring in new members. In the next few weeks the organization’s leaders will send out regular email blasts to community members and will be meeting with people face-to-face.
When Brooks-Lytle goes door-to-door in the next few weeks appealing to neighbors for membership in the community group, one message will be prevalent on her lips, directed at everyone she greets—”We need to hear your voice.”