PHS Cares: Making the Connection | Presbyterian Historical Society

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PHS Cares: Making the Connection

April 11, 2013
John Wanamaker

On Tuesday, May 14th at 5:30pm, the staff of the Presbyterian Historical Society will be taking a tour and serving dinner to the homeless at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission. This event is very dear to our hearts because it provides us the opportunity to give back not only to our community, but to reflect on our Presbyterian heritage.

One of the founders of the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission was Presbyterian businessman John Wanamaker. The Mission originated when Wanamaker and three other businessmen rented a building on 11th and Wood streets in Philadelphia for the exclusive purpose of feeding the hungry. According to, the first breakfast was served on December 15th, 1878, and more than 250 men listened to the Bible being read while they enjoyed their meal. The following Sunday, the number of participants more than doubled. This effort grew tremendously and touched the lives of many men.

The Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission has moved several times over the years, but now resides at 302 N. 13 Street. Its services have expanded to include feeding the homeless three daily meals, offering emergency shelter and a 12 month men’s recovery program. In addition to the various programs for men, the mission now accommodates women at their Wayne Hall site in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.

Mary Wanamaker

As the Presbyterian Historical Society continues the legacy of meeting the needs of those who are hurting in our community, we are excited to celebrate the retrieval of new paintings of John and Mary Wanamaker. The Wanamakers gave unselfishly by supporting Presbyterian causes for over 60 years. John led Bethany Sunday School as it grew to one of the largest Sunday schools in the U.S. with 5,000 students in attendance. In addition, John and Mary funded many other Presbyterian outreach efforts. Their paintings are proudly displayed at the Historical Society.

--By Takiyah Cuyler, Associate for Administration and Finance