One’s relationship with God is so very personal that it is a problematic assignment to make suggestions to you regarding places to worship. The task becomes even more difficult here in Philadelphia where there are so many representing a diversity of faiths. Actually one of the best ways to find one is to attend one recommended by a friend. The following are places of worship highly recommended by Penn Med students. We’re sorry since it leaves out some faiths, but the list was compiled through students’ recommendations of their own places of worship. Times of services, when provided, may not be complete. Call ahead for more information.
Temple Beth Zion/Beth Israel
18th and Spruce St.
Daily services, Shabbat, holiday services, and classes are offered. A core group of members are young and include professionals and students alike. One student who attends also volunteers and has formed close relationships with a number of families.
Congregation Beth Ahavah
8 Letitia Street (in Old City between Front and Second, Market and Chestnut)
Service: Friday 8PM
B.A. is a gay and lesbian synagogue that holds services in the Reform tradition (but congregants come from all backgrounds, and there is actually a fair amount of Hebrew liturgy used). It is small and has a very "haimish" feel to it. There are about 150 members total, including a number of physicians and medical students. Events, classes, panels, and workshops are offered throughout the year.
215 South 39th St. (Steinhardt Hall)
Penn Hillel offers a variety of services throughout the year, including Conservative, Reform, Orthodox and Sephardic services every weekend. Themed services (Carlebach, Women's, Interdenominational, etc.) also occur occasionally.
Lubavitch Housse (orthodox)
4032 Spruce Street
Services are held daily in the morning during the year and on weekends during the summer. Sabbath meals year round for $5 donation. There is also a study hall with study sessions.
4228 Walnut St.
Daily prayers and Friday prayer at 1PM
Muslim Students Association
Religious Activities Center (basement of 3615 Locust Walk).
Contact: Romana Kaleem
Jummah (Friday) prayers held every Friday at 1 pm in the Arch Auditorium on the second floor of the Arch Building on NW corner of 36th and Locust. Prayer room available on campus during the day.
The Association of Islamic Charitable Projects (AICP)
45th & Walnut Sts.
Friday service, daily Islamic classes, special events. One student reports, "I have been going there for the past 9 years and I love it."
Pu Nen Temple
1023 Race Street
Tibetan Buddhist Center
3635 Lancaster Avenue (Powelton Village)
Sunday morning meditation and evening meditation sessions.
Beulah Baptist Church
50th and Spruce Streets
Church school: Sunday 9:30AM
Services: Sunday 11AM
Bible Study: Wednesday 6:30
Beulah fellowship groups include the Gospel Choirs, Bible Study, Prayer Services, Men’s and Women’s Fellowship, and a Young Adult Christian Fellowship. Pastor Timothy Ruffin extends a warm and hearty welcome to all visitors. One student exclaims, "Sing and shout praises to the Lord at Beulah."
Bright Hope Baptist Church
12th and Columbia Sts.
With one of the largest African-American Baptist churches in the Philadelphia area, Reverend William H. Gray, Pastor, former Congressman, Chairman of the US House of Representatives Budget Committee, and President of the United Negro College Fund, was probably the most influential minister in the US.
Mount Carmel Baptist Church
58th and Race Streets
215-476-5320 Services: Sunday 7:45AM, 10:45AM Bible Study: Wednesday 7PM
Mount Carmel offers activities such as Sunday Church School, Young Adult Fellowship. Occasionally, the church invites guest preachers who represent special interests. "Visitors and new members are welcome!"
Sharon Baptist Church
59th and Catherine Streets
Services: Sunday 8:00AM 11:30AM
Sharon welcomes young adults of all denominations. The pastor is a down-to-earth preacher and church leader, and the church offers a progressive, uplifting worship service that remains rooted in the Word. The congregation is made up of all ages, but is largely young (under 50). Sharon features three choirs, Bible study classes, Single’s Ministry, Financial Freedom classes, as well as many other church and community activities. Get there early to get a seat, as the congregation has outgrown the church building!
White Rock Baptist Church
53rd and Chestnut Street
Services: Sunday 7:45AM, 11:00AM
White Rock offers a graded church school, as well as progressive Bible, College and Career classes. A variety of other activities include one of four church choirs, the Helping Hands Circle, and the Teen Youth Group. University of Pennsylvania medical students are especially welcome. The spirit of this church is "Joy!"
Newman Center at University of Pennsylvania
3720 Chestnut Street
Sunday Eucharist: 11AM, 5PM
Monday-Friday Eucharist: 5 PM
Morning prayer: Tuesday and Wednesday 8:30 AM
St. Agatha/St. James Roman Catholic Church
3728 Chestnut St.
Sunday Eucharist: 10am, 11:30am, 5pm and 10pm
Saturday Vigil Eucharist: 5:30 PM
Monday to Friday Eucharist: 7:30 AM and 12 Noon.
The official site for Penn and Drexel, this large church is attended by many Penn Med students. One student reports that she likes the friendly atmosphere, another raved and said, "I really love it. The church is beautiful, traditional, and the priests there are very in touch with younger people," while another observed it is "much more geared to undergrads". The Penn Newman Center, located next to the church, is "a great place to meet others and do volunteer work for the community." Drexel's Newman Center is at 33rd and Chestnut, and has daily and Holy Day Masses.
St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church
242 S. 20th St. (at Locust)
Saturday Mass: 5:15
Sunday Masses: 8, 10, and 12.
Convenient for those who live in Center City, "popular with students", "the priest is a very nice man who usually gives a good sermon". The music has improved dramatically in the last few years thanks to the leadership of Sabine Kintzele, and a few Penn Med students sing in the choir.
St. Mark's Church (Episcopal)
1625 Locust St.
Services: Sunday 8:30AM, 11AM during school year, 10AM in the summer
A "beautiful church" and with "fantastic" music during the 11AM service. One student observes, "The 11AM high mass is very ceremonial, but the church members and clergy seem very liberal."
St. Monica and St. Andres Episcopal Church
3600 Baring Street
Morning Prayer: 11 AM
This is a small, warm church in Powelton Village with a large Caribbean and African congregation.
Emmanuel Church in Philadelphia
4723-41 Spruce St
215-476-0330 Services: Sunday 10AM and 2PM
Bible study: Friday 7:30PM - contact Pastor Dan Hyun at (215) 476-0330 or by email
At Emmanuel, you’ll meet lots of students and working young adults. The congregation is largely Asian-American but absolutely open to all. 10AM service is larger and more traditional and the 2PM service is smaller and more contemporary. Both are English language services geared towards young adults and students. One student declares, "I give it my strongest endorsement". A free shuttle service is available to students on campus.
First African Presbyterian Church
42nd & Girard
Services: Sunday 11AM
Pastor Henry Pinckney extends a warm welcome to all Penn students on behalf of the congregation at First African. This church has built a relationship with Penn students through serving as the site for United Community Clinics. The church has a number of other services for its members and has made a strong commitment to community service.
10th Presbyterian Church PCA
17th and Spruce Sts.
Services: Sunday 9:30AM, 11AM (main service) and 7PM
Bible Study: 9:30AM on Sundays.
"Very traditional", "biblically based", "enthusiastic place" the three 1-hour services are "usually packed". The large congregation at 10th Presbyterian offers several fellowship groups (women’s, men, singles, college-age students, graduate students, married) and participates in a variety of ministries, including work with AIDS patients, the homeless, and prison workers. There is also a city wide medical group (Medical Campus Outreach).
Woodland Presbyterian Church
42nd and Pine Sts.
Sunday worship: 10:40AM, 6:30PM
Woodland is a community church with a diverse congregation. One student notes, "The Pastor is a vibrant, emotional, yet well-read Welshman (great accent), while the associate pastor is more laid-back and personally interactive with the congregation. They make a great team. The members are very friendly and fairly active in many different kinds of ministries."
Chinese Christian Church
225 N. 10th Streets
A great church with all age groups well represented and a vibrant graduate/career fellowship group
First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia
2125 Chestnut Street
Services: Sunday 11AM during the academic year, 10AM during the summer.
It's a friendly, liberal congregation of center city students and professionals, as well as friendly folks from across the city. It's particularly welcoming to gays, lesbians, and unbelievers, and those who find mainline churches too restrictive in their dogma or resistant to reason.
Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
419 S. 6th Street
Services: Sunday 10:45AM
This church is of particular historical interest because it was the first AME church in the country. The pastor is Reverend Joseph L. Joiner. One student "highly recommends" this church.
University Lutheran Church of the Incarnation (UniLu)
3637 Chestnut Street
Services: Sunday 10:30AM, Tuesday 5:30
A small, welcoming and friendly church made up of community members and students from Penn and Drexel. One Penn Med student that has graduated laments, "I miss it a lot."
Grace Covenant Church
Services: Sunday 9:30AM, 11:30AM
Penn college students and young adults gather together for a time of praise. Sunday Service held at the David Rittenhouse Lab (Walnut & 33rd) at 9:30am and 11:30am, and large fellowship meetings held on Friday evenings.