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African-American Churches and Places of Worship in Philadelphia

From large congregations and megachurches to historically significant places of worship

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Mother Bethel Church Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia
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Philadelphia’s African-American spiritual and religious roots date back to 1787, when Rev. Richard Allen and Absolom Jones encouraged black worshipers to form their own congregation after being forced to sit in the balconies during services at traditionally white churches. Today, the city’s faith-based community is rich with the traditions, music and history of its African-American churches and religious institutions.

From massive, modern “megachurches” like Enon Tabernacle in Mt. Airy and Sharon Baptist in West Philadelphia to historically significant assemblies like Mother Bethel and Tindley Temple, here’s a list of some of the city’s most impressive and significant African-American churches.

Read on to learn more about visiting and worshiping at these notable Philadelphia religious spaces and organizations.

01

Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church

The oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African-Americans

Inside the Mother Bethel Church Inside the Mother Bethel Church
— Photo by M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Mother Bethel AME Church, the mother church of the nation’s first black denomination, was founded in 1787 and rests upon the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African-Americans in the United States. Visitors can enjoy Mother Bethel’s weekly services and are encouraged to browse the church’s museum for a deeper understanding of its historical significance.

Where: Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 419 S. 6th Street

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02

Church of the Advocate

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Located in North Philadelphia just steps away from the campus of Temple University, the George W. South Memorial Church of the Advocate is a landmark institution rich with religious, social and architectural history. Designed by Charles Burns, a recognized church architect from the 19th and early 20th century, Church of the Advocate displays stunning Gothic architecture complemented by a series of religious and civil-rights-themed murals.

Where: Church of the Advocate, 1801 W. Diamond Street

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03

Zion Baptist Church of Philadelphia

— Photo courtesy of Zion Baptist Church

Founded in 1882, Zion Baptist Church stands as one of Philadelphia’s most historic churches and congregations. Today, Zion holds an active faith-based and civic community of over 6,000 members, who meet in its dramatic, stained-glass-wrapped sanctuary located on the corner of North Broad and Venango streets in North Philadelphia.

Where: Zion Baptist Church, 3600 N. Broad Street

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04

The Baptist Worship Center

Started in 1992 as a small bible study group by Millicent Hunter, The Baptist Worship Center has grown into an international faith network with over 71 churches across the United States and South Africa. Still headquartered in Philadelphia, The Baptist Worship Center holds weekly services for its more than 1,200 members in a newly renovated facility located in the neighborhood of Frankford.

Where: The Baptist Worship Center, 4790 James Street

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05

Sharon Baptist Church

Founded in 1934 with less than 10 members, Sharon Baptist Church has grown into one of Philadelphia’s most popular epicenters of black faith. Today the City Avenue-based institution hosts thousands of worshipers during its weekly services and meetings, which are held in a beautiful, modern edifice and sanctuary.

Where: Sharon Baptist Church, 3955 Conshohocken Avenue

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06

Enon Tabernacle

— Photo courtesy Enon Tabernacle

A faith community with more than 15,000 members, Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church’s commitment to Philadelphia and its surrounding community shines bright. Anchored on Cheltenham Avenue in Mt. Airy by a 94,000-square-foot building situated on a 34-acre campus, Enon holds weekly services in its stunning, massive 5,000-seat sanctuary.

Where: Enon Tabernacle, 2800 Cheltenham Avenue

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07

New Covenant Church of Philadelphia

— Photo courtesy New Covenant Church of Philadelphia

Located on a 42-acre campus in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Germantown, New Covenant Church is a locally based institution with international reach and impact.

Where: New Covenant Church of Philadelphia, 7500 Germantown Avenue

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08

Shiloh Baptist

On the corner of 21st and Christian streets in Philadelphia stands Shiloh Baptist Church, one of the last pieces of period architecture designed by the renowned Frank Furness. With a present congregation of around 200, Shiloh’s members work to preserve the history and legacy of their institution and building and enact positive change for their surrounding community of Graduate Hospital.

Where: Shiloh Baptist Church, 2040 Christian Street

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09

Deliverance Evangelistic Church

In the heart of North Philadelphia, Deliverance Evangelistic Church serves as a vibrant faith-based institution offering multiple weekly services, prayer meetings and ministries for the entire family. Along with its main building, which hold an impressive 5,100-seat sanctuary, Deliverance plays a vital role in community development and educational investments for its surrounding community.

Where: Deliverance Evangelistic Church, 2001 W. Lehigh Avenue

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Tindley Temple United Methodist Church

— Photo courtesy of Tindley Temple

Credited with writing the lyrics to some of gospel music’s most important hymns, including “We Shall Overcome,” “Stand by Me,” “Leave It There,” and “We’ll Understand It By and By,” Charles Albert Tindley founded Tindley Temple United Methodist Church in the 1920s. Today, worshipers still gather at Tindley’s historic building, which seats 3,200 patrons and still houses the building’s original 6,000-pipe organ.

Where: Tindley Temple United Methodist Church, 750 S. Broad Street

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Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
Church of the Advocate
Zion Baptist Church of Philadelphia
The Baptist Worship Center
Sharon Baptist Church
Enon Tabernacle
New Covenant Church of Philadelphia
Shiloh Baptist
Deliverance Evangelistic Church
Tindley Temple United Methodist Church
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