The Episcopal Church Club of Philadelphia is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.
Members and friends held the Church Club's first in-person (non-Zoom) meeting in more than two years on June 7th. Robert White, a direct descendant of William White, one of the first bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, provided a thorough chronicle of his ancestor's life, a summary of which follows,
William White was born in 1747. From age 7, he attended the “English School” of the College of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania). The story goes that as a child he liked to play “Church,” leading his playmates in his version of the liturgy.
White graduated from the College of Philadelphia in 1765, a year in which he aided one Betty Shewell to elope to England, where she married the prominent artist Benjamin West. Another Benjamin, Franklin by name, also assisted in the elopement.
White studied theology under the rector and assistant rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia. At the age of 22, he himself went to England to be ordained a priest. Returning to America in 1772, he became assistant priest at Christ Church.
When the American Revolution began, White felt duty bound to side with his countrymen. After taking an oath of allegiance to what would become the United States of America, he stated, “I know my dangers, and they are greater on account of being a clergyman of the Church of England. But I trust in Providence. The cause is a just one, and I am persuaded it will be protective.” During the war, he served as Chaplain of the Continental Congress. The revolution caused a great schism in the Church of England in the colonies, and White, as a moderate, worked tirelessly to hold together what ultimately became the Episcopal Church.
White wrote a pamphlet called The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered, which laid out the foundational thinking for the Episcopal Church. The infant church had four bishops elected in America: William White from Pennsylvania, David Griffith from Virginia, Samuel Provoost, and William Smith from Maryland. Later, both White and Provoost were consecrated as bishops at Lambeth Palance in London. Previously, another American bishop, Samuel Seabury, had to be consecrated by the Church in Scotland, because he could not take an oath of loyalty to King George III as required by the Church of England.
Bishop White twice served as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. He also participated in the consecration of most American Episcopal bishops during the first 20 years of the new church. Among these were two African Americans, Absalom Jones of Philadelphia and William Levington of New York. White also founded The Episcopal Academy and other church organizations, including what became the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. Active well into his 70s, he continued a vigorous ministry, completing a 830-mile journey to cross the Alleghenies to visit parishes at the western end of Pennsylvania. White played host to many of the founding fathers of the United States at his home in Philadelphia. He died at age 89 and was buried in the family vault at Christ Church. Later, he was re-interred in the chancel of the church. White’s life and ministry are commemorated in the Episcopal Church calendar annually on July 17, the anniversary of his death.
Programs during the 2021-2022 season included the following events:
May 18: Dr. Allen Guezlo - The Joy of History
April 9: Dr. Liza Anderson - The Theology of Online Worship
February 23: Everett Gillison - Stormy the road we trod - A call for Honest Renewal