Philadelphia's Christ Church and the Development of American Religious Ideas with John Bright - Context Travel

Philadelphia's Christ Church and the Development of American Religious Ideas with John Bright


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Christ Church Philadelphia, which is part of Independence National Historical Park along with Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, is probably the most historic religious congregation in the United States. People visit for its architecture and its many connections to the country’s founders, but it also plays a forgotten, leading role in a story of uniquely American religious ideas that are still with us today. This Conversation surveys the religious world of Philadelphia when it was the intellectual center of the American Revolution and observes how those religious ideas have evolved into the twenty-first century.

Christ Church is the most famous historic congregation in Philadelphia because of its many close associations with the founders of the United States, but it is one among many unique religious congregations in the city. At the time of the American Revolution, when the Declaration of Independence (and later the Constitution) was written a few blocks away, Philadelphia was the most religiously diverse place in the new United States. In part, this was because Philadelphia was the largest city in the country - and the largest English-speaking city in the world outside of London - but the primary reason was William Penn.

William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, intended his colony to be a “holy experiment”. Penn was a Quaker, and Quakers were unusual among the many dissenting Protestant groups of the time because they believed that all people had God inside of them, and each person could find God there without an institution or a book. This led Quakers to be radically egalitarian for the time and led Penn to create a colony with religious freedom as its political foundation. Different American religious movements that can be seen competing in Philadelphia at the time of the Revolution are the beginnings of threads that can be traced through time to religious ideas that are still competing for adherents in the 21st century United States. This Conversation will trace, and maybe even pull on, some of those threads.

Led by John Bright, a public historian for seven years at the Christ Church Preservation Trust, this interactive seminar will explore the development of America’s religious ideas through the lens of Christ Church, Philadelphia. Designed to educate as well as inform future travels, participants will emerge with a greater understanding of the significance of said church.

John Bright is a public historian who has worked for seven years at one of the most historic churches in the United States, which is part of Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. He has spoken to tens of thousands of people about the intersection of American religious and political history and has experience addressing the thorny questions that arise in such a contested space. He has done doctoral work at Temple University in Philadelphia and General Theological Seminary in New York.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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I could listen to John Bright all day. Can't wait for other subjects

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
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P.D.

I could listen to John Bright all day. Can't wait for other subjects