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Old St. George's - Philadelphia, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 57.316 W 075° 08.768
18S E 487517 N 4422802
Quick Description: A beautiful interpretive, part of a large series placed in front of the various religious institutions in the city, recounts the history of this path blazing church as well as a number of first attributed to it.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 11/6/2011 6:33:54 AM
Waymark Code: WMD1G8
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member MrsMcFly
Views: 2

Long Description:

An organization called Old Philadelphia Congregations has produced and erected a series of informational interpretives which tell about the history of some of Philadelphia's oldest congregations. This church is quite unique in that it is currently the oldest of its kind.

Along the sidewalk in front of the church is the Old Philadelphia Congregations historical interpretive/marker. These tall, upright, markers can be found in front of almost every church or religious institution of consequence within Independence Hall National Historic Park. They are designed to aid in tourism and to encourage tourist to learn more about the history of Philadelphia and its designs for religious freedom. Each sign describes its church and explains how the church was part of the early fabric of religious freedom as well as the contributions each church made. This beautiful sign reads:

In 1729, in Oxford, England, a group of fiery, compelling preachers began the religious movement that would become Methodism. Preaching a message of repentance and conversion, men like Captain Thomas Webb and Francis Asbury led a religious revival in the colonies as well. Old St. George's played an important role in the beginnings of Methodism. Today it stands as the world's oldest Methodist Church building in continuous service.

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.

In 1771, St. George's became the base of operations for Francis Asbury, "the father of American Methodism," who traveled on horseback all over the country, ordaining more than 4,000 ministers in 35 years. One of the deacons Asbury ordained was Richard Allen, the first African American licensed to preach by the Methodists. Allen left St. George's in a controversy over seating and went on to become the first Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. St. George's also spawned the first religious publishing company in America, the Methodist Book Concern, established by John Dickens, who was pastor in 1789.

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 1920s, 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.

Group that erected the marker: Old Philadelphia Congregations

URL of a web site with more information about the history mentioned on the sign: [Web Link]

Address of where the marker is located. Approximate if necessary:
235 North Fourth Street
Philadelphia, PA USA
19106


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