Concluding Thoughts

The First African, First Italian, and Meadow Presbyterian Churches reflect two ways in which minority Presbyterian churches in Philadelphia were founded. The First African Presbyterian Church grew out of a desire of a few to create their own church which was supported by the Presbytery and the other existing congregations in the city at that time. On the other hand, the founding of both the First Italian and Meadow Presbyterian Churches was initiated by strong missionary efforts of the Presbytery in attempt to reach out to new immigrants.

These churches evolved in response to the changing neighborhoods in which they were located in a variety of ways, thus reflecting patterns of immigration in Philadelphia. As the population shifted, these churches responded by changing locations, merging with other congregations, and even dissolving. The First African Church moved westward as its congregation relocated westward out of South Philadelphia due to the influx of other ethnic groups.  The First Italian Church remained in the neighborhood where it was founded and eventually merged with another struggling congregation and adapted its services to meet the changing cultural needs of the community.  Meadow Presbyterian Church merged with other minority congregations within South Philadelphia, including a German and an Episcopal congregation, and finally dissolved in 2003.

Our research on each church revealed to us that there is no common prototype for minority Presbyterian churches in South Philadelphia and that each church must be studied on a case by case basis.