Philadelphia in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Old St. George's
Old Philadelphia Congregations
Philadelphia's first Methodists were a small, dedicated group of eight men, mostly merchants and artisans, and their wives who met in a sail loft on Dock Street in 1767. As their numbers grew, the congregation purchased, in 1769, an unfinished shell with a dirt floor that had been erected in 1763 by a German Reformed congregation and already named St. George's. An estimated 2,000 attended the first service. Before the Revolution, though, Methodists still considered themselves a “society" and part of the Anglican church. Members received their Sacraments at local Anglican churches until the Methodist Episcopal Church was officially formed in 1784.
During the great revival sparked by Methodism in 1836, St. George's again played a leadership role. Membership surpassed 3,000, and the basement story was excavated to accommodate a Sunday School. By the end of the 19th century, the industrialization of this part of the city led to a drastic decline in membership. In the 1920's, St. George's was almost demolished to make way for the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. A court battle saved the historic site, and now St. George's is known, among its many other distinctions, as "the church that moved the bridge." A National Park Service Shrine, St. George's today is a touchstone of spiritual renewal for Methodists around the world.
(side 1 photo captions)
• Richard Allen, first African American licensed to
• Captain Webb, organizer and early preacher
• Bishop Francis Asbury, first bishop of the Methodist Episcopal church, 1784
That diversity is still evident today in the Old Philadelphia Congregations, a consortium of historic churches and synagogues of different denominations working together to broaden interfaith understanding and celebrate Philadelphia’s unique contribution to religious freedom in America.
The freedom of worship mandated in William Penh's 1701 Charter of privileges ensured that Philadelphia made significant contributions to American religious history: Philadelphia is the birthplace of the Methodist, German Reformed, Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal churches in America. It is here that the first African-American bishop was named, the Hebrew Bible was first translated into English, and the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America was held. And in the 1730s, Philadelphia was the
In other words, Philadelphia's religious history is the nation's own.
"Because noe people can be truly happy though under the Greatest Enjoyments of Civil Liberties if Abridged of the Freedom of theire Consciences as to theire Religious Profession and Worship"
from William Penn’s Charter of Privileges for Pennsylvanians 1701
(side 2 photo captions)
• Location of the Old Philadelphia Congregations
• East Prospect of Philadelphia by Scull and Heap (copper engraving, 1756)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Churches & Religion • Colonial Era • Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and the Francis Asbury, Traveling Methodist Preacher series lists.
Location. 39° 57.317′ N, 75° 8.768′ W. Marker is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia County. Marker is at the intersection of North 4th Street and North Marginal Road, on the left when traveling south on North 4th Street. Marker is located on the sidewalk, directly in front of St. George's United Methodist Church. Touch for map. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. St. George's Church (here, next to this marker); Nicola Monachesi (a few steps from this marker); St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church (a few steps from this marker); Kahal Kodosh Mikveh Israel (approx. 0.2 miles away); National Funeral For President Washington (approx. 0.2 miles away); Ralph Modjeski (approx. 0.2 miles away); Francis Hopkinson (Philadelphia Home) (approx. 0.2 miles away); Keys To Community (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Philadelphia.
Also see . . . Old St. George's • The Church that Moved the Bridge. This link presents photographs and video from the St. George's Museum. (Submitted on July 12, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on July 12, 2019. It was originally submitted on June 30, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 117 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on July 1, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 11, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 6. submitted on July 12, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.