FAITH IN ACTION FOR 250 YEARS

A WALK THROUGH HISTORY

1835 The Female Benevolent Society is founded for the rescue of dissolute women.

1836 Bishop White dies in July after 57 years as rector.

1836 The Rev. William H. DeLancey becomes fifth rector and the first of St. Peter’s after separation of the churches. The church has 226 communicants.

1837 The first stained glass – the Bishop White window – is installed over the chancel and then moved to the south side of the church in 1888. It is removed and stored in the basement of 313 Pine St. in 1974.

1837 Gas lights are installed in the church.

1839 The Rev. William H. Odenheimer succeeds DeLancey as the sixth rector when the latter is consecrated bishop of Western New York.

1841 Rector’s warden Joseph R. Ingersoll announced at a special vestry meeting Dec. 29 that former vestryman Benjamin Chew Wilcocks will buy a set of six chimes for the church.

1842 The tower, designed by William Strickland at a cost of $4,000, is added to St. Peter’s to appease younger parishioners who considered the church’s Georgian architecture old fashioned and to house Wilcocks’ bells. It is 210 feet from ground to the top of the steeple.

1842 Dr. Odenheimer casts the deciding vote at a vestry meeting to place a 10-foot gilt cross on the steeple of the tower, making it the first Episcopal Church in the United States to do so. For the next 75 years, until the completion of Philadelphia City Hall, the cross on the spire was tallest structure in the city. He presents a brass cross for the altar that was used during the week through the 1980s.

1842 Dr. Odenheimer introduces the weekly celebration of the Holy Communion in October, one of the first three churches to do so. He also introduced daily Morning and Evening Prayer and Holy Communion on Holy Days.

Election Day in Philadelphia in the mid-19th Century.

On June 1, 1831, Jackson Kemper notified the vestry that he had accepted a position at St. Paul’s in Norwalk, Conn.; at the end of the meeting, a committee was formed to consider a proposal for the separation of the two churches, offered by Messrs. Binney, Hutchins, Nicklin, Meredith, Miller, and J. S. Smith. On June 17, the committee reported that there was no point in naming a new assistant rector yet to replace Kemper. In the committee’s opinion, “a separation of churches is expedient,” and a plan would be developed. At a special meeting on July 6 it was decided that White would continue as rector. The separation resolution was approved on September 7, 1831. The vestry minutes of November 11 show that Christ Church voted 66 to 0 for separation and St. Peter’s voted 74 to 5 for it. The vestry announced that the articles of incorporation would follow. Separation became effective on January 1, 1832, with the following memorial published on January 25, 1832:

An Act to divide Christ Church and St. Peter’s Church in the City of Philadelphia into separate corporations approved by the Governor on the [13th] day of January instant, which had been passed agreeably to a memorial which had been presented to the Legislature to that effect.

The members of the late Vestry in their recording of this Act, look back on the proceedings of the said Churches during the more than Seventy years of their Union, having been for the nearly Sixty years under the spiritual guidance of their present Rector, The Right Reverend William White, for nearly Fifty three of which he had filled that Office, — with gratitude to Almighty God for the un-interrupted Harmony by which their Union had been distinguished.

It is an additional satisfaction to them that the separation now taking place, has not been occasioned by unpleasant feelings or by discontent in any, but has been produced by the conviction that in distinct corporations the interests of the Churches will be most effectually promoted.

Accordingly while they resolve themselves into two Vestries, agreeably to the provisions of the Act, it is with Prayer to Almighty God that in their characters of two Churches, there may be a continuance of the blessings hitherto vouchsafed to them in union."

Forward   In the beginning

The 18th Century

The 19th Century

The 20th Century

The People of St. Peter's

The Choir

Mission and Outreach

Did You Know?

The Next 250

The Hero of Tripoli

The Book