St. Peter's Church

Faith in Action for 250 Years

Cordelia Frances Biddle, Elizabeth S. Browne, Alan J. Heavens, and Charles P. Peitz
Laurence D. Fish Award for Outstanding Parish History from the National Episcopal Historians and Archivists, 2014
Book Cover

HC: $41.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-0795-5
Publication: Oct 11

Ebook: $41.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-0797-9

272 pages
8 x 10
125 color illustrations

A history of the second-oldest Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, published in honor of its 250th anniversary


For 250 years, St. Peter's Episcopal Church has witnessed a rich mixture of people and events that reflect America's history. Nestled in Society Hill, one of Philadelphia's oldest neighborhoods, its congregants span the centuries. George Washington worshipped here as did many other national figures. Patriots and Tories, Abolitionists and slaveholders, Whigs, Democrats, and Republicans all occupied its pews. And over the years St. Peter's was an important point of first contact for countless immigrants as the church provided basic services to help them acculturate to life in Philadelphia. Opening a window onto Philadelphia’s—and the nation's—history, St. Peter's Church is a glorious testament to this National Historic Landmark. In addition to the stories and a hundred plus black-and-white and color photographs, this handsome volume provides a history of the grounds, the churchyard, and the church itself—a classic example of eighteenth-century Philadelphia design that later incorporated the work of renowned architects William Strickland, Thomas U. Walter, and Frank Furness.


"This is the most beautifully presented church history I have ever seen. The author team skillfully weaves together many strands of a venerable Philadelphia church: the architectural history of St. Peter's; the troubled times that divided the church during the American Revolution and Civil War; the outreach mission efforts, mostly by female parishioners, when the church was surrounded by the struggling poor of the late nineteenth century; and the stirring rebirth of the church in recent decades after it almost closed its doors. Utterly frank in discussing the church's low points as well as high points, it is a fascinating exploration of one of Philadelphia's treasures."Gary B. Nash, Professor of History Emeritus and Director, National Center for History in the Schools, UCLA

"This is a charming and informative book, complete with great shots of Society Hill in its less tony days." The Philadelphia Inquirer

"(W)ritten by knowledgeable people who did their research and are a part of this includes many beautiful photos and design elements." Episcopal Journal

Table of Contents

Foreword, by the Reverend Ledlie I. Laughlin, Twentieth Rector, St. Peter’s Church Preface 1761–1836 Chapter 1: Let the Building Speak - Elizabeth S. Browne Martin Jugiez - Kenneth Finkel Chapter 2: The Sacred Cause of Liberty - Elizabeth S. Browne A St. Peter’s Continuum - Elizabeth S. Browne 1836–1865 Chapter 3: The Churches Disunited - Alan J. Heavens and Elizabeth S. Browne Chapter 4: The Building Evolves - Elizabeth S. Browne Chapter 5: The Industrial City: 1836–1845 - Cordelia Frances Biddle Chapter 6: St. Peter’s and the Oxford Movement - Alan J. Heavens Chapter 7: Civil War Divides the City - Cordelia Frances Biddle 1865–1911 Chapter 8: St. Peter’s Reaches Out - Alan J. Heavens and Cordelia Frances Biddle Outreach of an Earlier Age - Alan J. Heavens Chapter 9: From a Side Pew: Meditations on the “Saints” - George E. Thomas Chapter 10: The Jewish Mission: The Reverend Andrew Weinstein - Alan J.Heavens 1911 to the Present Chapter 11: “No Longer a Wealthy Parish” - Alan J. Heavens Chapter 12: The Choir School: The Gilbert Years - David Richards The Choir Post-Gilbert - Elizabeth S. Browne Chapter 13: 1950–1962: Transition and Renewal - Marcia Rogers Chapter 14: The ’70s and Beyond: “Behold, I Make All Things New” - Alan J. Heavens Sally Buell - Cordelia Frances Biddle Celebrating the 250th - Elizabeth S. Browne The People of St. Peter’s Chapter 15: The Churchyard - David Stevens High Up, the Man in Black - Alan J. Heavens Chapter 16: The Rectors of St. Peter’s Church - Alan J. Heavens Chapter 17: Members of the Congregation - Alan J. Heavens Chapter 18: “A House of Prayer for All People” - Alan J. Heavens Sources Index

About the Author(s)

Cordelia Frances Biddle is the author of the historical novels: The Conjurer, Deception’s Daughter, Without Fear, and Beneath the Wind. She is a direct descendant of Nicholas Biddle.

Elizabeth S. Browne, a tour guide, tour writer and designer and guide trainer, is a long-time member of St. Peter's Church.

Alan J. Heavens is a veteran newspaper columnist and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer. He is the author of What No One Ever Tells You About Renovating Your Home and R emodeling on the Money.

Charles P. Peitz is a freelance editor formerly with The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Wall Street Journal.