First Mennonite Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

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Philadelphia First Mennonite Church (General Conference Mennonite Church), a member of the Eastern District Conference, located at Fifth and Diamond Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was organized in October 1865 as the First Phila­delphia congregation, with Bishop Moses Gottshall of Schwenksville as the overseer of the work. On 12 January 1867, the chapel was purchased and regular morning and evening services were conducted by visiting ministers. On 5 April 1868, Samuel G. Clemmer became the full-time minister. In 1872 the congregation became a member of the Eastern Dis­trict Conference. Originally the services were in German but gradually English was introduced. Since 1914 all services have been in English. The language question caused difficulties in 1874 and about one half of the members withdrew and joined the Moravian Church, some of whom later returned. A new brick church building was dedicated in Jan­uary 1882, which is the present place of worship (Reese and Diamond streets). In 1881 the congre­gation was incorporated. One of the outstanding ministers of the congregation was N. B. Grubb, who served the congregation in 1882-1920; under his service the congregation increased to a membership of 470 and introduced more effective methods of outreach. The organization of the Sec­ond Mennonite Church in 1899 took some of its members.

A Sunday school was organized in 1868 and a Young People's Society of Christian Endeavour in 1886, the first to be organized in a Men­nonite church. The congregation had a choir and Ladies' Aid Society from its earliest days. The min­isters who have served the church are Samuel G. Clemmer 1868-70, Andrew B. Shelly 1870-72, Levi O. Schimmel 1872-73, Albert E. Funk 1874-82, N. B. Grubb 1882-1920, A. J. Neuenschwander 1921-29, Mary E. Bakewell 1929-30, Carl J. Landes 1930-36, John J. Plenert 1936-47, Wesley C. Ewert 1947-50, H. S. Weiss 1951-52, and Curtis Bedsworth 1952- . The membership in 1957 was 173.


Cassel, D. K. History of the Mennonites. Philadelphia, 1888.

Charter and By-Laws of the First Mennonite Church. Philadelphia, 1911.

Fiftieth Anniversary of the First Mennonite Church of Philadelphia. Philadelphia. 1915.

 "History of the First Philadelphia Congregation." 1898 Mennonite Yearbook and Almanac. Quakertown, 1898.

Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the First Mennonite Church of Philadelphia. Philadelphia, 1940.

Wenger, J. C. History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference. Telford, 1937.

"Young People's Association of the First Mennonite Church, Philadelphia, Minutes." 1886-92 Mennonite Library and Archives (North Newton, Kansas).

Author(s) J. Herbert Fretz
Cornelius Krahn
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Fretz, J. Herbert and Cornelius Krahn. "First Mennonite Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 26 Jun 2022.,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=119259.

APA style

Fretz, J. Herbert and Cornelius Krahn. (1959). First Mennonite Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 June 2022, from,_Pennsylvania,_USA)&oldid=119259.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 162-163. All rights reserved.

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