History of Old First
September 21, 1727
September 24, 1747
Our second pastor, the Rev. Michael Schlatter, who had been sent to America to “organize the ministers and congregations into a Coetus (synod),” had gathered and founded the German Reformed Church in America, that founding taking place in Old First’s Sanctuary on the corner of 4th and Races Streets. More information on the German Reformed Church is available on the UCC’s website.
Our congregation replaced the small building with a larger Georgian/Federal meetinghouse style church built on adjacent property to accommodate their growing congregation.
The British Army used the church as a hospital.
1793 & 1798
In this time pastors were the record keepers for their congregation so their deaths mean the only records we have from the epidemic are the headstones uncovered in Franklin Square Burial Ground
Pictured is a pew rental card that would have been used by the congregation as a way to give to the church and reserve the best seats. The 1837 church is the one in use by our congregation today.
End of the 19th Century
Congregation worships in Handel & Haydn Hall
Congregation moves to West Philadelphia and worships in a movie theater
Congregation votes to purchase original 4th & Race St. site and adjacent lots from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. The building, then vacant, had been in use as a paint warehouse for much of the early 20th century.
The “urban pioneers” who returned to rebuild the congregation’s presence at 4th & Race were propelled by a dream to make a difference in the city. Embracing its central location, the congregation established ministries to serve the needs of the surrounding communities.
For more information on our current community service programs, please visit our Serve page.
This was the first integrated program of it’s kind in Philadelphia. It was followed by the 1977 Summer Tot Lot day camp in Northern Liberties, and Everyone Reads day camp at Shot Tower
For many years Old First held an annual art exhibition during Lent. The 1992 winner (above), by Sister Helen David is called “The Sheltering Cross,” and hangs in Old First’s social hall.
Volunteers from all over the region come in to prepare meals regularly. Find out how you can help by checking out volunteer opportunities in the Serve menu