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Religion: Five Houses of Worship Worth Visiting

Religion: Five Houses of Worship Worth Visiting
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While the upcoming papal visit draws most of the attention in Philadelphia, another religious leader will soon make his way to the city. The Dalai Lama will be here Oct. 26 and 27, when he’ll receive the 2015 Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center and hold public teachings.

The city has an historic religious past. And coming in 2016, it’ll play host to the first Mormon temple in Pennsylvania.

So with that, here are five area houses of worship you should know about.

Christ Church is known as "The Nation's Church" because of the founding fathers attended it during the U.S revolution.

Christ Church
Located in the heart of Old City, Christ Church is one of the oldest parishes still in operation in Philadelphia. It was the first Anglican church in Pennsylvania and later became the birthplace of the American Episcopal Church.

Christ Church is best known as “The Nation’s Church” because of the Revolution-era leaders who attended, such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams.

The First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia also plays hosts to rowdy punk rock shows on Friday and Saturday nights.

First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia
The First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia is unique, not necessarily for its worship but for what goes on when church is not in service. On any given Friday or Saturday night, it’s transformed into a music venue, where fans flood the basement to see their favorite punk bands.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is building the first Mormon temple in Pennsylvania on Vine Street.

Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple
It’s been eight years since Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, revealed Philadelphia would host the first Mormon temple in Pennsylvania.

The project, still under construction, will consist of a 24,000-square-foot temple and a 32-story residential tower in Logan Square. With the church set for completion in spring 2016, LDS members will finally have an official place to worship and to hold community events in Philadelphia.

In December 2017, the 258-apartment high-rise is slated to open.

When the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church opened in 1794, it served as both a church and sanctuary for runaway slaves.

Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Still in operation as the second-oldest African American congregation in the nation, Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church’s history is as vast as its worship is strong.

The parish was founded in 1794 by Bishop Richard Allen and served as both a place of prayer and a sanctuary for runaway slaves. What started as a practice with only 121 members grew to the 2.5 million member-society it is today.

Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia is located at 915 Spring Garden St.

Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia
Located at 915 Spring Garden St., the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia holds monthly and weekly events teaching Buddhism. It also helped organize the Dalai Lama’s teachings at La Salle University and Temple University with the Tibetan Association of Philadelphia.

On the first Saturday of every month, the center hosts a group focused on addiction. Every Sunday, it practices and teaches meditation. And Tuesdays, it has a discussion group.

—Text and images by Tom Dougherty and Moira Wilson.

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