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First Baptist Church, Philadelphia, PA


Notable for its early leadership in Baptist organization and evangelism, the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia was prominent both in its region and city and in the transatlantic community of Baptists. Begun in 1698 as a mission of the more suburban Pennepack (now, Lower Dublin) Baptist Church, First Baptist soon became the leading congregation for the city, region, and colonies, gaining independent status from Pennepack in 1746. By the 1760s, the first decade for which minutes survive, the congregation had gained prominence beyond its modest size. When in 1814 Baptists from twelve states gathered to form a national organization to support Baptist missions, the meeting was at the First Baptist meeting house in Philadelphia. Throughout the next century the congregation grew in numbers and influence in the city and in national and global mission programs, despite conflicts related to theology, leadership, and relationships with daughter churches, including two competing First African Baptist congregations.

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