First Church of 

PHILADELPHIA   and surrounding area. Located in suburban Wyndmoor, PA

      the Brethren

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About Us      

      Founded in Philadelphia in 1813 and re-located to Springfield Township, Montgomery County since 1956, we are a Protestant church, Christ- centered in its theology, congregational in its government, and world- minded in its missions, with a special concern for the quality of life in our community.

     Although we have been a large congregation in the past, current trends have reduced us to a smaller, more dedicated group of congregants who choose to minister by setting an example to others with our life styles, rather than by imposing our beliefs on others.

     We welcome people from the community of all faiths, races, and nationalities to visit our church and to celebrate the gift of life with us.

     If you are not already active in a church we hope that you will be led to make our congregation your new church home, that together we may grow toward the plan God has for your life and ours.

Worship and Activities       Back to Top    


Sunday Prayer Group: 9:00 AM

Sunday School: 9:45 A.M
Informal Singing & Sunday Worship: 11:00 AM
Social Hour Immediately Following Sunday Worship

Wednesday evening Bible Study Group at 7:00 PM, starting September 23


Love Feast and Communion

Bread & Cup Communion

Good Friday Vigil

Palm Sunday & Easter Services

Easter Breakfast

Christmas White Gift Celebration

CommunityThanksgiving Service

Denominational Annual Conference

Camp Swatara

National Youth Conference

National Older Adult Conference

Youth & Adult Service Work Camps

OUR MISSION       Back to Top  

     The mission of First Church is: "To worship God, and to live our lives guided by the teachings and example of Jesus, encouraging others through our service and actions to do the same."


     The following are forms of outreach, other than our regularly scheduled services, that we consider outreach to the community:

Top of the Hill Day Care (in our church building, Monday thru Friday from 7:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.)

Keystone Hospice- Founded in 1995,  in Wyndmoor, PA,. Keystone Hospice is a not-for-profit organization providing specialized care to the needs of the terminally ill and their families in their own homes and at assisted living facilities throughout the greater Philadelphia region, with special outreach to the medically underserved, financially disenfranchised, and HIV/AIDS communities.

Keystone House-This is a 19-bed, restored Victorian home in Wyndmoor, PA that provides comprehensive hospice services for those in the greater Philadelphia area whose care cannot be managed at home.

Aid for Friends- Once a month on Tuesdays, we fix 100+ meals for people who are not able to leave their homes on their own. The frozen meals are then delivered to the Aid for Friends distribution center and are then delivered to individuals who need them the most.

Missionary Support- We support missionaries stationed in Guinea-Bisseau, missionaries JoAnn Gladd and Patricia Vander Waal and Brethren missionaries in the Dominican Republic.

Service Work Camps-Opportunities are provided on a "as needed basis" to bring relief during  disaster situations throughout the world.


     The following are Brethren related organizations that are physically close to us, that we give spiritual and financial support to:

Camp Swatara

Juniata College, Elizabethtown College

Bethany Theological Seminary

Peter Becker Retirement Community

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) an alternative to military service

Brethren Disaster Response

FIRST CHURCH HISTORY         Back to Top  

      Philadelphia First Church of the Brethren (formerly German Baptist Brethren) was founded in 1813 by members of the Germantown congregation who had moved to the city.  Members worshiped at first in homes and a schoolhouse, led by Elder Peter Keyser, Jr.  A meetinghouse was built on Crawn St. in 1817.  The congregation has had three additional church buildings: on Marshall St. (1874); at Carlisle and Dauphin Sts. (1891); and on Cheltenham Ave. north of Philadelphia (1957).  The congregation has been active in planting other congregations, notably (Philadelphia, PA) Geiger Memorial CB and (Philadelphia, PA) Bethany CB. It has given strong support to denominational programs.

Throughout its history, Philadelphia First Church has had strong leadership, both professional and lay.  Among the early ministers were Keyser, James Lynd, Sr., John Heisler, Timothy Banger, John Righter, Thomas Major, Sarah Righter Major, John Fox, David Harley, Henry Geiger, John N. Wenger, Christian Cutter, Amos Cowell, Jacob Spanogle, and Emanuel Heyser.  Later leaders were Jesse P. Hetric, Howard Millor, T. T. Myers, D. W. Kurtz, H. Stover Kulp, Jesse Reber, William I. Book, C. C Ellis, Elmer Q. Gleirr, Charles A. Bame, Ross D. Murphy, and many others.

     The congregation often pioneered practices that were later generally accepted in the denomination.  These included property insurance, salaried ministry, indoor baptistery, musical instruments, Sunday schools, contemporary dress, and others.  These innovations often brought committees from the Annual Meeting to attempt to bring the members into line with general church practices.   Philadelphia First Church has not been seriously affected by any of the schisms within the Church of the Brethren.

From:  Brethren Encyclopedia, The Brethren Encyclopedia Inc., Philadelphia, PA,  1983, p. 1015

Other Sources:

R. L. Howe, History of a Church (1943) and CB: Some Observations (1948) 24-26; E. Pennsylvania (1915) 107-36; N. Atlantic

(1975) 164-92; W. 1. Book, "Some Personalities of First CB, Philadelphia" (1963); H. Miller, Record(1882)9; F. E. Mallott, Studies (1954) index; M. G. Brumbaugh, History GBB (1899) 509-12; H. R. Holsinger, Tunkers (1901) 186-87; Vindicator (1879) 204-6, (1884) 10-12; GM (April 25, 1964) 24.



8707 W. Cheltenham Ave.  / Wyndmoor, PA 19038 / Phone: (215) 836-5083

Copyright 2013-2016 Philadelphia First Church of the Brethren