I am so delighted to welcome guests and family members of Felicity Louise Buschenfeldt to Church of the Holy Apostles for the occasion of her baptism! What a joy it is to welcome her into the body of Christ.
I left the history of Holy Apostles right after the stone church building at 21st and Christian Streets had been consecrated in 1882 (that building is now Shiloh Baptist Church). George C. Thomas, an investment banker and a deeply committed and energetic lay leader and benefactor of Holy Apostles paid for much of the furnishings of the original building, and probably purchased the altar and reredos (carved wooden thing behind the altar) that now grace our worship space.
By 1885, Philadelphia had grown further south and west of 21st and Christian Streets, and it was decided that Church of the Holy Apostles, in the missionary spirit in which it was founded, would found a chapel to serve the growing neighborhoods. Beginning with a Sunday School, the Chapel of the Holy Communion grew quickly, and a new building was dedicated in January 1888. It grew rapidly, and the Rev. William F. Ayer was appointed the vicar. As a child Ayer grew up in the Holy Apostles Sunday School. He attended Philadelphia Theological Seminary and helped to found Holy Communion.
Around this time the neighborhood around the Church of the Mediator (19th and Lombard), one of the two parishes that founded Holy Apostles began changing demographically. Mediator’s membership had moved farther west and south. Around the turn of the century, the parish attempted to build a new parish in south Philadelphia but this did not work out, and at length they asked to merge with Church of the Holy Apostles, and thus became its third mission. George C. Thomas died in 1909. Thomas’ widow provided the money from their estate to erect the building of Holy Apostles and the Mediator at 51st and Spruce streets in his honor. The building was completed in 1919.