Given its massive size it’s hard to miss this church complex with its gorgeous stained glass windows and Gothic Revival-style architecture when traveling along Diamond Street in North Philadelphia a few blocks west of Broad Street.
The historic Church of the Advocate at 1801 W. Diamond St. has been a powerful institution in the community since it opened in 1897.
The Church of the Advocate was particularly pivotal in the late 20th century when it served as a hub for national and local activism against inequalities during the tenure of the legendary Father Paul Washington, who led the church for over 25 years before his death in 2002.
“We strive to help people in the community, we have a free lunch program five days a week, and we also hold Narcotics Anonymous meetings weekly.” Milfred Hall said. Hall is a community member who has been active with this church for years.
The Church of the Advocate is currently led by Rev. Renee McKenzie-Hayward, who also serves as the vicar to the Advocate and chaplain to Temple University, where she leads services to students.
The church has been the site of many hallmarks in the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements. In 1974, the first 11 female Episcopal ministers were ordained inside this church. A few years earlier the Advocate hosted national Black Power and Black Panther Party conventions.
The building was added as a National Historic Landmark in 1996, and the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Instrumental is renovating housing in the area surrounding the church, the Advocate regularly holds events for the arts that foster equality among all groups of the community. You can find out more on what is happening on the church’s website at https://www.churchoftheadvocate.org/