A few years ago, my husband and I visited Philadelphia. We’re always enthusiastic for an adventure so we did some sight seeing. Of course we visited the usual places like Independence Hall and saw the Liberty Bell, but we ended up vising Christ Church. I was reluctant to go inside at first because after a full day of sightseeing, I was cold and tired. My husband insisted that it was worth going in. He was right because the church was rich with history and that’s good for a history teacher. I’ll give the highlights but if you are ever in Philadelphia, I encourage you to visit.
The Christ Church was founded in 1695. It was the first parish of the Church of England. In case you forgot your History lessons, I will remind you that King Henry VIII separated from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 and formed the Church of England when he was not allowed to annul his marriage to Catherine of Argon. And so after he sent Queen Catherine packing, King Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn who eventually lost her head. You would think after poor Anne, the women would leave dude alone lest they suffer the same fate, but no. When it was all said and done, the Casanova King was married six times, but I digress.
The Parishioners of Christ Church were well-known Revolutionary figures that included Benjamin Franklin, Betsey Ross, George Washington, and John Adams. Ben Franklin and four other signers of the Declaration of Independence were buried on the church grounds.
So a bit of Black History: Christ Church was where 25% of Philadelphia’s free and enslaved Africans were Baptized. A school was created here to educate slaves as well. That’s a huge deal seeing that slaves weren’t allowed to be educated. It was also where Absalom Jones, the first black priest, was ordained. Most importantly, Christ Church is the birthplace of the African Methodist Episcopalian Church. If you remember, I talked about the founding of the AME Church a few weeks ago in this post. I am so glad that my husband encouraged me to visit Christ Church. I didn’t just find historical facts in this church, I found a piece of my history in the most unlikely place.