PHILADELPHIA, Apr. 18, 2011 – The Washington Community Outreach Foundation recently announced a 12-month campaign to recognize and document the role of Philadelphia’s Church of the Advocate in the Black Consciousness/Black Political Movement under the leadership of the late Father Washington.
The campaign will be kicked-off with the first event, Saturday, May 21 , “Skin on Skins: Where it All Began,” a salute to the elder African drummers who began playing/teaching African drums at the church and in
The extraordinary history of the Church of the Advocate began in October 1897 when it first opened. A national historic landmark, the church was intended to be the Episcopal Cathedral of Philadelphia and is one of the best American examples of Gothic Revival style and the only major one of its period based on French sources. It was built as a memorial to the merchant/civil leader George W. South and is one of the few churches in the nation constructed on a grand scale specifically for a working class community. The early church leaders decided that community mission work would be as important as its architectural splendor.
That mission expanded greatly under the leadership of Father Paul Washington who began his tenure at the church in 1962.
“Although many are aware of our father’s contributions to the Black Consciousness Movement in
Several historic events were held at the church. The 3rd National Conference on Black Power was held there in 1968 and drew young people and Black nationalists from throughout the nation. As a result,
In 1974, the Church of the Advocate hosted the ordination of the first Episcopal women priests. Although the national Episcopal Church had not yet approved the ordination of women, 11 women were ordained at the church.
It was known throughout
During that time the church became a leader in providing needed services to the community. Many young people came to the church to enjoy the city recreation programs housed at the church. Others came to learn about African culture – drumming and dancing. Groups like the legendary Arthur Hall Afro-American Dance Ensemble practiced and performed in space provided by the church. The Philadelphia Black Panther chapter adopted the church as its second home. In the 1960s, the church began operating a daily soup kitchen and providing clothing and counseling to those in need. That operation continues. The Advocate Community Development Corporation, founded in 1968, successfully rehabilitated homes in the surrounding community to provide decent, affordable housing to low-income residents and is one of the most successful programs of its type.
“We want to commemorate and document the history of our father’s work at the church during the Black Consciousness Movement and raise funds to restore some of those programs back to the community,” said Kemah
Tickets for the May 21 salute to the African drummers can be purchased at the Church of the Advocate, located at 18th &