Faith & Freedom Tour
This building was originally the Pennsylvania State House, but today it is known as the meeting place for the development of our new nation. The Continental Congress began to meet here during its second meeting in 1775. The city of Philadelphia was selected to host these meetings due to its central location and large population. Because of the Continental Congress’ epic decision for independence in 1776, which we celebrate on July 4th, their meeting place has become known as Independence Hall.
The new Constitution provided for a Supreme Court. The first court met here in the smaller building to the East of Independence Hall. It did not meet on a daily basis, but it served at different times when needed. The first supreme court chief justice was John Jay, a fellow Anglican/Episcopalian like George Washington, who was a close personal friend. John Jay served as the second President of the American Bible Society. The Bible’s teaching on the importance of the judges maintaining justice is declared in Deuteronomy 25:1, “When men have a dispute, they are to take it to court and the judges will decide the case, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty.”
This building to the West of Independence Hall is where the House of Representatives met, on the first floor, and where the Senate met, on the second floor. Before the American Constitution was adopted, the Congress elected one from its own number to serve as its president. This of course changed with the new Constitution.
George Washington was present at the first meeting of the Continental Congress when it met at Carpenter’s Hall in 1774. At the Second Continental Congress in 1775, he was elected as General of the Revolutionary Army and left for Boston. For this reason, he didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence as he was leading the army in 1776. When the Constitutional Convention met, he was elected to preside over it in 1787. When the Constitution was ratified and the first presidential election held in 1789, Washington was elected unanimously. He was again unanimously elected for a second term, a feat that will undoubtedly never be repeated.
Washington Square is the location where the unknown soldier of the Revolutionary War is buried. It is named for George Washington.
Closely associated with true patriotism is the recognition that human life is often required for liberty. The Christian spirit of the American founding era can be found in Jesus’ teaching in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (KJV). This verse is a fitting description of the hero who paid the ultimate price so that others might live in liberty.
The Liberty Bell Pavilion houses the most important relic of American patriotism. The Liberty Bell, as it is called today, is named for its role in proclaiming liberty throughout American history. The bell was ordered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Penn’s Charter that established religious liberty in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania delegates had the verse Leviticus 25:10 placed on the bell. It declares, “proclaim LIBERTY throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof ” (KJV).
Benjamin Franklin was not only one of the greatest patriots of America, but also one of the greatest inventors in history, both of objects and ideas. One of his proposals has become the esteemed American Philosophical Society. To be invited to be a member has, from the beginning, been a high honor.
The First Continental Congress met here in September, 1774. Because their discussions made them unwelcome at the Pennsylvania State House as they met to critique and respond to the seemingly tyrannical actions of the British Parliament and King. Carpenter’s hall was originally a guild hall for builders and craftsmen. The building was new and close to the government’s meeting place at the Pennsylvania State House which later became Independence Hall. Thus, it was an ideal place for the delegates to meet. What prompted the delegates to gather were continuing conflicts in Boston between the British governors and the Sons of Liberty, led by Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere and Dr. Joseph Warren.
When America began there was a major debate over monetary policy and the ownership of banks. Some felt they should be privately owned whereas others felt they should be owned by the government. America started off with a government-owned national bank which was eventually ended under Andrew Jackson’s presidency.
The Second National Bank was built in Greek revival architecture. It is a historic building that reminds us of a bygone era, but it underscores the foundational reality of the necessity of strong economics for the well-being of a country.
Robert Morris’ statue is situated between the First and Second National Banks reminding us of his pivotal role in the Revolution. He was one of the greatest financiers and contributors to the American cause. However, he ended his life penniless and having served time in debtors’ prison. When the war was over, he had lost all his wealth through bad investments in land speculation. Just as the National Banks went out of business, the vast fortune of this great American hero evaporated into thin air.
The First National Bank now also is just a historic building. Like the Second National Bank, it was closed under the leadership of President Andrew Jackson.
As a signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Witherspoon was one of the great patriots in the founding generation. A direct descendant of the reformer of Scotland, John Knox, he was like his forbearer: a man of the church and a man of the public square. As a public leader, he was a representative in the New Jersey legislature when it voted to ratify America’s new Constitution. As a churchman, here in Philadelphia, John Witherspoon helped to organize the new American branch of the Presbyterian church, presiding at its first General Assembly in 1789.
Over time as the Swedish Lutheran settlers learned English, the church was assimilated into the Episcopalian tradition. One largely unknown fact is that the first president of the United States under our first Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, was John Hanson, who is buried here at Old Swedes Church.
The name Gloria Dei means “the glory of God” in Latin. The theme of the glory of God runs throughout the entire Bible and, as the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “ Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (NIV). This historic church attests to the close connection of faith and public service in our country’s earliest days.
This slave in turn led his slave master to Christ. The slave master then freed his former slave, named Richard Allen. The story of the Old Mother Bethel Church reflects the story of Onesimus in Saint Paul’s Letter to Philemon, his shortest epistle. Paul urges the runaway slave’s master, Philemon, to treat his slave, Onesimus, as though he were Paul (v. 17).
Politics were not only conducted in the state house, they were often done after hours over food and drink where the great issues of the day continued to be discussed by friends. John Adams called this tavern “the most genteel in America.” George Washington often met with his advisors and friends in a small upstairs room. The Proverbs remind us that “he who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (13:20, NIV). The wise men of early America ate and debated together here in the spirit of Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (NIV).
The National Liberty Museum is one of the newest museums in the city of Philadelphia. In this faith friendly setting, remarkable displays, beautiful glass sculptures, biblical and interfaith teachings combine to underscore the role of faith in creating and preserving the fragile and precious gift of liberty.
The National Liberty Museum welcomes thousands upon thousands of students and visitors who are reminded that religious liberty is an expression of loving our neighbor as ourselves, even when they believe differently than we do. As we read in Leviticus 19:18, “Love your neighbor as yourself ” (NIV). We find the same teaching in Matthew 22:37-39.
The financial legacy that Franklin left for Philadelphia has grown substantially through the centuries and continues to provide resources for his city. When you look from Franklin court in the direction of Christ Church and see its high steeple, remember that Franklin helped to raise money for the purchase of its bells by proposing, printing and selling tickets in one of America’s first lotteries.
Franklin’s print shop was employed for government printing, books, newspapers, and broadsides (posters). Franklin even used his print shop to publish his own book, Poor Richard’s Almanac, one of America’s first bestsellers. Some of his classic one-liners that have become part of American life are: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise;” “Fish and visitors smell after three days;” “God helps them that help themselves;” “ Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead;” and “Keep the eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterwards.”
A trip to the post office is a routine activity for most Americans, so we also honor Benjamin Franklin as the man who organized America’s first public postal service. As the first postmaster general of the United States, he appeared on America’s first postage stamp. Since that first stamp, Franklin has appeared on numerous U.S. regular issue and commemorative stamps. Franklin clearly upheld the truth of Proverbs 25:25, “Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land” (NIV). Good news became more accessible to everyone through a public post office.
Franklin’s Post Office is still open for business. Stop there and send a Philadelphia postcard home to friends or family to commemorate your trip!
This was the church where our nation’s patriots often worshipped. It has never ceased to be an active center for worship. Absolom Jones, one of the first ordained African-American preachers in America, studied the Bible and theology here in an upstairs room. The baptismal font, which is still used today, was a gift from All Hallows Barking, an Anglican church in London. The font is the very one in which William Penn was baptized as an infant.
Using his own finances and printing press, Robert Aitken printed the first English Bible in North America. The cover page of his Bible identifies the historic address of his printing shop as “Under the sign of the ‘Pope’s Head’ in Market Street, just three doors away from the coffee house.” Today this is 110 Market Street, the current location of Shane Handcrafted Candies, the oldest candy store in Philadelphia, dating from 1876. The coffee house was The London Coffee House, the meeting place of all the newspaper men of early Philadelphia because it was so close to the waterfront and was a great place to hear the news being brought in by the many ships docking on the Delaware River.
Penn’s first landing in Pennsylvania was actually some miles to the south of Philadelphia in the city of Chester. However, his arrival is commemorated in Philadelphia because this is the city that was named by Penn before it was “born.” Philadelphia finds its name in Revelation 3:7. The name Philadelphia literally means: the city of “brotherly love.” This reflects Penn’s hope that religious liberty would prevail and that no one would ever be persecuted for his or her faith in his city, like he had been in London for his Quaker faith.
Penn’s Landing appropriately reminds us that William Penn left an indelible mark upon his city. But the Christopher Columbus memorial is a visible reminder that Penn built on the labors of those who had gone before him. Columbus never set foot on North America, but his voyage of discovery to the New World paved the way for settlers who came after him
Betsy Ross was a widow working as a seamstress who, according to a strongly held tradition, sewed our first stars and stripes at the request of General Washington. Her pew was next to the Washingtons’ pew at Christ Church. According to this tradition, Betsy is credited with helping Gen. Washington to decide to use five- rather than six-pointed stars on the flag due to the ease in their creation by one snip on a neatly folded cloth.
Quakers were a persecuted Christian sect in England. Under Penn’s leadership as a trained attorney and theologian, Philadelphia became the “Quaker City.” Quakers developed their faith from a literal reading of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 which forbids taking oaths and taking up weapons. In the spirit of loving one’s neighbor as oneself, as found in Matthew 22:39, the Quakers sought to make Philadelphia a city of brotherly love and peace, indeed, a city without walls.
Among the thousands buried in this cemetery are several signers of the Declaration of Independence, including Benjamin Franklin. The other signers of the Declaration buried here are Joseph Hewes, George Ross, Dr. Benjamin Rush and Francis Hopkinson. Francis Hopkinson was not only a signer of the Declaration, but also the organist at Christ Church and a student of heraldry. There is good evidence that he is the one who first proposed the stars and stripes for the American flag. He also helped design symbols used on early currency.
American coins are minted in various cities. The city where they are created is usually identified on the face of the coin by the first letter of the city’s name. Thus coins produced in Philadelphia have a P.
St. Joseph’s Church is named for the father of Jesus from the nativity story found in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 2. Because William Penn’s Charter of Liberty protected people of all faiths, at one point in the history of the British empire, Philadelphia had the only legal, English Roman-Catholic Church. A commemorative plaque inside the church reads: “ When in 1733 St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church was founded and dedicated to the Guardian of the Holy Family, it was the only place in the entire English speaking world where public celebration of the Holy sacrifice of the Mass was permitted by law.”
In the colonial days, there were few Jewish people in America. However, Jewish immigrants found religious liberty as a welcoming gift in the New World. George Washington’s favorite Bible verse was Micah 4:4, “But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it” (KJV). He applied this text not just to his home at Mt. Vernon, but also to the whole American experience and particularly to the Jewish people. Washington hoped they would find asylum from their long experience of persecution in our new nation.
While Quakers were pacifists based on their understanding of Matthew 5:39, some Quakers in the midst of the American Revolution concluded that the American struggle for independence was a just war against tyranny. For this reason, these Quakers chose to take up arms and establish another Quaker community, which met in the Free Quaker Meeting House.
While at the Constitution Center, make sure you see the statues in Framers’ Hall. According to a study conducted by political scientists at the University of Texas, one third of the quotations used by our fathers were from the Bible.
Also see a direct descendant of the last Liberty Tree that is planted on the west side of the National Constitution Center’s grounds.
Also at the National Constitution Center, on long term loan from the Providence Forum, is the American Eagle carved from wood from the last Liberty Tree.
Thomas Jefferson was asked to draft of the document that would declare to the world that America was independent. During the days leading up to the debate on independence, culminating with the Declaration on July 4, 1776, Jefferson lived in the Graff house working on his epic making document. The building is a reconstruction of the original building.
City Hall in Philadelphia is the architectural center of Penn’s city. Here one finds the plaque that records William Penn’s prayer for Philadelphia. It says: “And Thou Philadelphia the virgin settlement of this province named before thou wert born, what care, what service, what travail have there been to bring thee forth and preserve thee from such as would abuse and defile thee. O that thou mayest be kept from the evil that would overwhelm thee, that faithful to the God of thy mercies in the life of righteousness, thou mayest be preserved to the end. My soul prays to God for thee that thou mayest stand in the day of trial, that thy children may be blest of the Lord and thy people saved by His power.”
William Penn’s statue atop City Hall faces the direction of Penn’s Landing. He appropriately presides over the City of Brotherly Love. Up until the 1970s, no building could be higher than the brim of Penn’s hat so as to honor the city’s founder.
John Wanamaker was born in 1838 and died in 1932. His statue commemorates him simply as a “Citizen.” Wanamaker is credited with helping to give birth to the modern retail system, where there is no bargaining over prices. His commercial venture was so successful that he amassed a fortune and his innovations were broadly imitated by others.
The Masonic Order is an international, secret fraternity that played a significant role among the officers of the American revolution. The most famous member of the Masonic Order was George Washington. While their history is debated, the tradition argues that Masonry can be traced to Hiram, who helped build the temple of Solomon that is recorded in 1 Kings 6-7. Their classic symbol is a builder’s square with a compass and the letter G. This symbol is called “GAOTU,” which is an acrostic for “Great Architect Of The Universe” suggesting the geometric orderliness of the universe that argues for a creator and designer of all things. Genesis 1:31 says, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (KJV).
Although the Wanamaker department stores have been sold, the Wanamaker building still bears the family name and houses the world’s largest organ. Wanamaker had the organ installed as an expression of his commitment to aesthetics as a part of God’s creation and service to mankind.
The Union League was established in the midst of the Civil War to galvanize the support of Philadelphia for the Union cause advocated and defended by President Abraham Lincoln. Because of Philadelphia’s successful business of turning Southern cotton into manufactured cloth, the loyalty of Philadelphia to the Northern cause was not assured. So, several patriotic businessmen banded together to urge Philadelphia’s leadership to support the Union. The Union League took as its motto: “The love of country leads.”
On the University of Pennsylvania campus, there is a statue of the leading evangelist of the Great Awakening, George Whitefield. The University began in a religious meeting house built to house the crowds that came to hear the eloquent and powerful evangelist. The site of this Meeting House is now where the Holiday Inn on 4th Street is found, adjacent to the Philadelphia Mint.
Fort Mifflin is sometimes visible when airline passengers arrive in Philadelphia as it is located adjacent to the Philadelphia airport. The Fort is a historic reminder that Philadelphia was a key port city that needed to be defended by land as well as by the Delaware River. It stands as a silent testimony of the resolve of the American people in the Revolutionary War to stand fast in the liberty that had been bequeathed to them by Penn’s Charter. As Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (NIV).
Washington sought to defend Philadelphia from the British who had landed on the Elk River in Maryland by assembling a strong defense near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. This is known as the Battle of the Brandywine. Washington was not able to withstand the British force and had to retreat. His young French ally and officer, the Marquis de Layfatte, was wounded in the battle. Nevertheless, Washington’s commitment to liberty held the beleaguered nation together.
Trenton, New Jersey, a surprise Christmas day attack occurred resulting in the defeat of German mercenary soldiers from Hesse. This was made possible because of Washington’s daring and secret crossing of the ice-laden Delaware River during the early hours of Christmas morning. The Hessians, hired to fight by the British, had celebrated Christmas Eve believing that the war was on hold for the winter months. Thus sleepy, hung-over and surprised, they were overrun by Washington’s surprise assault. This victory was a critical turning point in world opinion.
The Battle of Germantown turned out to be a tie but because it was a tie, the British invasion of Philadelphia could not be stopped. Washington again relied upon God’s providence as he realized the British would enjoy the winter in Philadelphia and his men would have to retreat to the cold wilderness of Valley Forge. There they built their own shelters out of logs. Declaration signer John Witherspoon’s belief in God’s providence was also put to the test as this preacher and patriot lost one of his sons in this battle. The founders, relying on providence, nevertheless wrestled with the truth of Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). Even in the midst of difficult things such as defeat, loss and death, they sought to trust in God.
Valley Forge was the low point for the American Battle for Independence. Philadelphia, the capital city, was lost. The troops had no provisions as they were forced to winter in the wilderness. Washington’s friends in Philadelphia such as the Rev. Duche of Christ Church urged Washington to surrender because the battle was lost. It was here that Washington’s courage and leadership shaped the outcome of American history.
One of the remaining buildings of the original Valley Forge encampment is the stone house of Washington’s headquarters. Soon after the soldiers left, the wood huts began to decay and none of the originals survived, although replicas have been constructed throughout the park. This has led some to ask if it was not a selfish act for Washington to occupy a house for himself when his men were compelled to live in cold log cabins. But the records show that Washington told his men that he would be the last man under roof. He would stay in his tent until every soldier had built his hut! From this, one can understand why Washington was so admired by his men. As one of the wealthiest men in the colonies by virtue of his vast landholdings, Washington risked everything for the American cause of liberty. For many, he has become the example of one who becomes great by becoming a servant for the good of all. Jesus’ teaching on servant leadership declares, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35, NIV).
On the Memorial Arch at Valley Forge one finds a reminder of the sacrifice that was made by Washington’s troops for the liberties we enjoy.
Washington was a member of the Anglican church. But since the Anglican clergy took a vow of loyalty to the king, it became difficult for him to remain an active communicant in his church. As a result, reports of Washington’s communing during the Revolutionary War appear in other Christian contexts, such as with Presbyterian or Reformed believers. But to Washington’s credit, his letters indicate his efforts after the war to seek reconciliation with alienated friends who were Anglican clergymen who had disagreed with him over the revolution.
Founded in 1949 by Dwight D. Eisenhower, E.F. Hutton, and others, Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge is an educational nonprofit welcoming thousands of people a year to its 72-acre campus for programs that encourage engaged, responsible citizenship based on the nation’s founding documents and the Foundation’s Bill of Responsibilities. Elementary, middle and high school students from around the country join programs during the school year and teachers earn graduate credit during summer seminars.
The Bill of Responsibilities, created in 1985 and etched in stone on campus, states, “Freedom and responsibility are mutual and inseparable; we can ensure enjoyment of the one only by exercising the other. Freedom for all of us depends on responsibility by each of us. To secure and expand our liberties, therefore, we accept these responsibilities as individual members of a free society.”
The principle underlying these responsibilities is engraved at the base of the monument: “Fundamental Belief in God.”
Also on campus, which is just west of Valley Forge National Historical Park, is the 42-acre Medal of Honor Grove that honors, state by state, the more than 3,500 recipients of the nation’s highest award for valor.
Tenth Presbyterian Church is the Presbyterian pulpit in Philadelphia made famous by the preaching of Donald G. Barnhouse and James M. Boice.
The motto of Westminster Theological Seminary is “The Whole Counsel of God”. This is based on the Apostle Paul’s words in Acts 20:27: “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (KJV). Westminster was established in Philadelphia in 1929, and today has over 700 graduate students, with over 6,000 living alumni, who serve in over 100 denominations, from over 60 countries around the world.
One of the most courageous moments in American history is commemorated at the Chapel of the Four Chaplains. After the Dorchester, a U.S. Naval ship, had been fatally hit by an enemy torpedo in the icy waters of the north Atlantic, it was soon realized there would not be enough lifejackets for all the surviving sailors. In an interfaith expression of love and trust in God, two Protestant chaplains, a Catholic chaplain and a Jewish chaplain gave up their lifejackets, sacrificing their lives so that others could survive the sinking ship. In sacrificing their lives to save others, they embodied the truth of John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends“ (NIV).
The chapel is currently located at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
What makes a man great—money, power, influence, fame? Rev. Russell Conwell was the founder of Temple University that started at Temple Baptist Church on Broad Street.