The First 300

Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church

The Bryn Mawr Presbyterian campus in the 1930s before the 1886 redstone church was razed.

Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, founded in 1873, has grown from the original greenstone chapel on unpaved, rural Montgomery Avenue to today’s large campus passed daily by thousands. When the 1874 chapel became too small, the redstone church was built in 1886 with a Sunday School Annex added in 1874. Demonstrating a leap of faith, in 1927 parishioners built the present church with seating for twice the membership. The growth continued: 1931, the Education Building; 1940, the Mary Catherine Pew Memorial Chapel; 1964, the Activities Building; and 1990, the Ministries Center which created offices and spaces for large groups as well as incorporating Converse House (manse built for the Mutches) and the Activities Building into a unified whole. But the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church is more than a collection of buildings. Its current membership of 3,500 carries on the strong tradition of its 16 founders to be a community of faith that serves the church, the community and the wider world.

In 1888 the church pledged to directly support two missionaries, one of whom was Dr. William Wanless. In 1893 he established a clinic in Miraj, India. 106 years later, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian continues to support the Miraj Medical Centre. In addition, the church provides financial assistance to churches and mission workers in health, housing, education, community and economic projects throughout the world, across the United States, and within the Philadelphia region.

The strength of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church lies in its preaching, teaching, music, and ministries to the many groups within the congregation as well as its outreach to the larger community.

The magnificent sanctuary (pictured during a 1929 wedding) is not only utilized for worship, it is the site of today’s more modest weddings, memorial services, musical vespers and forums that explore issues of significance for the vitality and well being of the larger community.
Dr. William Wanless (c.1888). Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church supported Dr. Wanless’ missionary work and clinic in Miraj, India; 106 years later the church still supports the Miraj Medical Centre.
One local project is the Tutoring Program, the oldest continuous volunteer program in the school district of Philadelphia. It brings together 120 elementary children from North Philadelphia and 120 high school tutors from Main Line schools. Since 1965 the program has involved approximately 4400 children, 3900 tutors, and over 400 adults. It meets in the church’s Education Building.