For Americans, Philadelphia is of the utmost significance. Here in 1776, the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, stating that the 13 American colonies would no longer be under British rule but rather be independent states in a new union. Just 11 years later, the Constitution was written and signed to determine the laws that would govern the new country. Philadelphia was declared the first capital of the United States, and it served that purpose for nearly a decade, setting the precedent for government, religion and culture in the country.
Today that heritage is still a part of the city’s identity. The people who call Philadelphia home take great pride in the past accomplishments and future potential of their city to influence the rest of the nation. And they are correct.
Philly is the second largest city on the East Coast and the fifth largest in the country. Nearly 46 million people live within a 200-mile radius of this city that sits almost directly in the center of the Northeast region. The potential for influence is strong in Philadelphia, which is why the city needs church planters to put down roots and set to work loving the people and the city back to Christ.
Today there are only 204 Southern Baptist churches in the city, and they are trying to reach nearly 6,347,342 people in the Philadelphia metro area. This leaves one Southern Baptist church for every 31,114 persons, a ratio that must decrease to reach a population where only 6.2 percent identify as evangelical.
Those already at work in the city see great hope on the horizon for the start of new churches to influence the future of the city and its people. They hope more church planters and partners will soon join the efforts.
“There is such an opportunity for harvest that exists in Philadelphia,” Whitworth explains. “Church planters here have the opportunity to get to know the religious roots and culture of the city while at the same time working to move the people away from typical religion and into real relationships with Jesus Christ.”
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