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Arch Street United Methodist Church - National Fund For Sacred Places
2021 Cohort

Arch Street United Methodist Church

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Arch Street United Methodist Church is a Civil War-era church that has grown into a community hub at the center of Philadelphia’s transportation network.

Arch Street United Methodist Church courtesy Arch Street UMC

Arch Street United Methodist Church courtesy Arch Street UMC

2021 Cohort

Arch Street United Methodist Church

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Arch Street United Methodist Church is a Civil War-era church that has grown into a community hub at the center of Philadelphia’s transportation network.

The church, built in stages between 1864 and 1870, was architect Addison Hutton’s first major commission and the second Gothic-style Methodist church in the country. Throughout history, congregants have been committed to the greater social good. During the Civil War, women from Arch Street UMC volunteered at hospitals to treat soldiers wounded at the front. In the 1920s, Arch Street was one of the first churches to broadcast services over the radio, increasing its reach to a broader range of people. As a result of prioritizing outreach to African American and international communities in the 1960s, Arch Street continues to maintain a diverse and welcoming congregation.

Arch Street proudly adheres to the Methodist church’s motto of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” The church offers life-giving services to unsheltered community members as a drop-in center, and the congregation advocates for greater access to safe and affordable housing. These services, including providing access to showers, laundry, computers, food, and case management, have continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Arch Street also provided sanctuary for Javier Garcia Flores, an undocumented immigrant, for 11 months until he was able to obtain a stay of deportation and the right to pursue a U-Visa application.

A National Fund grant of $150,000 with $300,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation will allow Arch Street to restore its spire and facade. The spire has been designated unsafe and could impact the congregation and community’s ability to use the church if not repaired.  

Historic Houses of Worship as Advocates for LGBTQ Rights & Inclusion

Houses of worship may not be the first places that come to mind when thinking about institutions that uplifted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, as many LGBTQ individuals across the nation and the world have faced discrimination as a result of the policies of organized religions. Although discrimination against this community has not been extinguished from religious institutions, an increasing number of religious groups in the United States have taken firm steps towards welcoming and advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Arch Street United Methodist Church courtesy Arch Street UMC

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez