On November 22, 2015, at 2 pm, the Society of Mayflower Descendants of Pennsylvania will hold its Thanksgiving Service at Christ Church in Philadelphia located at 2nd and Market Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19106.
Join us for our annual Thanksgiving Dinner this year at the Wyndham Hotel on 4th and Arch Streets.
In many ways, Christ Church can be called The “Church of the American Revolution”. As David McCullough has said: “no church played a more important role in the American Revolution.” At its founding in 1695, the small congregation met in a humble church, more of a log cabin, so small that one congregant recalled “walking the length of the center aisle with the palms of her hands pressed against the ceiling.” By 1744, however, they were housed in the most sumptuous church in the colonies.
According to Wikipedia, Christ Church is “a monument to colonial craftsmanship and a handsome example of Georgian architecture,” featuring a symmetrical, classical façade with arched windows and a simple yet elegant interior with fluted columns and wooden pews. Part of its furnishings is a baptismal font from All-Hallows-by-the-Tower where William Penn was baptized.
The church’s connection to the American Revolution begins with one of its rectors, Reverend Jacob Duché. Duché was the first Chaplain of the Continental Congress and led prayers during the Congress’ first meeting at Carpenters’ Hall on September 7, 1774, which according to John Adams in a letter to his wife, Abigail, had a profound effect on the delegates. After Duché’s capture by the British and his subsequent betrayal of the cause, Reverend William White, Duché’s successor as rector of Christ Church, took over as co-chaplain of the Continental Congress. William White later became the first bishop to be elected by a democratic ballot that included both the lay and the ordained.
Reverend William White was a founder of the American Episcopal Church and proposed including lay people in the church’s decision making bodies. I have actually seen his copy of the Book of Common Prayer where the prayer for the King was crossed out and a prayer for the democratically elected leaders of America inserted. George Washington attended services at Christ Church regularly while in Philadelphia (though he never received communion). Benjamin Franklin maintained a pew, and the congregation included fifteen signers of the Declaration of Independence, including Franklin and Washington.
Our Thanksgiving service will begin at 2pm, presided over by the Reverend Timothy Browning Safford, nineteenth Rector of Christ Church.
The Christ Church Burial Ground, where Benjamin Franklin is buried, is located on 5th and Arch Streets, just down the block from the Wyndham Hotel on 4th and Arch Streets where we will be having our Thanksgiving Dinner. The Wyndham Hotel is on the original campus of the University of Pennsylvania (then known as the College of Philadelphia). It is a two block walk from Christ Church.