Tenth Presbyterian Church

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Tenth Presbyterian Church
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Location 17th & Spruce Streets, Philadelphia, PA
Country United States
Denomination Presbyterian Church in America
Previous denomination Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod
Membership 1,500
Weekly attendance 1,400[1]
Website www.tenth.org
Former name(s) West Spruce Street Presbyterian Church
Founded 1829
Status Open
Architect(s) John McArthur, Jr.
Frank Miles Day (1893 alterations)
Completed 1856
Spire height 250 feet (150-foot wooden spire removed from east tower 1912)
Presbytery Philadelphia
Minister(s) William "Liam" Goligher
Assistant Carroll Wynne (Pastoral Care)
Bruce A. McDowell (Global Outreach)
Will Spokes (Outreach)

Tenth Presbyterian Church is a congregation of approximately 1,500 members[citation needed] located in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Tenth is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), a denomination in the Reformed and Calvinist traditions.[2] It is located at the southwest corner of 17th & Spruce Streets in Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, in the southwestern quadrant of Center City.


The original Tenth Presbyterian Church, founded in 1829 as a congregation part of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, was located on the northeast corner of 12th & Walnut Streets. It established a daughter church in 1855-1856 called the West Spruce Street Presbyterian Church on the southwest corner of 17th & Spruce Streets. The two churches worked together, with the ministers exchanging pulpits each week. Because of membership decline in the original Tenth Church caused by population shifts, the two churches merged in 1893 at the 17th & Spruce Streets location, taking the name of the older church (Tenth Presbyterian Church).

West Spruce Street/Tenth Church was designed by architect John McArthur, Jr., who was a member of the congregation. Its 250-foot (76 m) tower-and-spire was the tallest structure in Philadelphia from 1856 to the erection of the North American Building in 1900. McArthur later designed Philadelphia City Hall. In 1893, architect Frank Miles Day was hired to perform major alterations to the church's exterior and interior decoration. The church's steeple and the 150-foot wooden spire, once the tallest structure in Philadelphia until the new City Hall (designed by McArthur as well) was built in 1901, collapsed due to structural decay and was removed in 1912.

The Philadelphia Presbytery(PC-USA) was the headquarters of conservative Presbyterianism during the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the 1920s and 1930s, and Tenth Presbyterian was no exception. The congregation became the conservative Presbyterian Church in Center City of Philly, and it has remained so until this day. Senior pastors such as Donald Barnhouse (1927-1960) and James Montgomery Boice (1968-2000), the congregation embraced conservative Reformed theology. Tenth membership continued to grow after World War II, and ministry efforts to college students gave the congregation a metropolitan focus.[3][4]

Tenth Church before the removal of the spires in 1912

Under James Montgomery Boice pastorate Tenth Pres grew from 350 members to a congreagtion over 1,200.[5]

In 1979, following a denominational ruling by the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America requiring congregations to elect both men and women to the office in ruling elder, Tenth Presbyterian left the UPCUSA in 1980, aligning itself with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.[6] Three years afterward, that denomination in turn merged with the Presbyterian Church in America, bringing Tenth Church with it.

After a lengthy property battle the congregation was allowed to leave the denomination with keeping its Byzantine style property. Tenth Presbyterian remain the "big-steeple" PCA congregation in the northeast United States. The church sponsors an extensive global missions program, an outreach to the neighborhood includes a strong connection to the rising generation of doctors attending the medical schools in the neighborhood.[7]

Senior Ministers

File:Philip Ryken01.png
Philip G. Ryken, in front of the pulpit, June 27, 2010

Some notable staff members of the church from its founding include:

Notable members have included C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General of the United States during the Reagan administration and one-time head of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.


  • Three Sunday services with approximately 1,400 people in weekly attendance
  • ACTS Ministries: mercy ministries to the poor and homeless near Tenth Church
  • Tenth College Fellowship is a group for college students, helping them to be connected in the church and to grow spiritually during their college years.
  • Maranatha is the youth group for students in grades 7-12, begun in 1984 and still continuing to meet weekly on Sunday nights and sponsor other events throughout the year.
  • Medical Campus Outreach is a ministry to medical and other health professional students on medical campuses in and around Philadelphia.
  • Small group Bible studies meet weekly in host homes across the city of Philadelphia and throughout the suburbs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
  • Various other discipleship groups, support groups, and prayer groups meet regularly in the church facilities and elsewhere


  1. www.tenth.org/index.php?id=8
  2. "About Tenth". tenth.org. Tenth Presbyterian Church. 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2008-10-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. www.rca.org/page.aspx?pid=6132
  4. www.tenth.org/ministries/connecting/medical-campus-outreach
  5. http://articles.philly.com/2000-06-17/news/25601114_1_historic-downtown-church-philadelphia-presbytery-congregation
  6. D.G. Hart and John Meuther Seeking a Better Country: Three Hundred Years of American Presbyterianism (P&R Publishing, 2007) pgs. 239 & 240
  7. www.rca.org/page.aspx?pid=6132
  8. Tenth Presbyterian Church - Philadelphia, PA: News

External links

Preceded by
Park Street Church
Tallest towers in the United States outside of New York City
76 m
Succeeded by
United States Capitol