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The Floating Church of the Redeemer

Imagine that, instead of going to church, the church came to you! That was the case in Philadelphia in the mid-19th century. The Seamen’s Church Institute of Philadelphia and South Jersey decided to construct a floating church to serve the needs of those working in the shipping industry along the Delaware River. The Floating Church of the Redeemer began its mission in 1849, although whenever it changed location, it had to be towed by a tugboat.  

The church could seat as many as 600 worshippers for a Sunday service. This number rarely must have been reached, as the families of mariners and longshoreman frequently left early due to seasickness. The chaplain himself sometimes had trouble staying upright during services as the floating chapel contended with waves on the Delaware. The unpowered craft also tipped sideways in high winds and even sank once. By 1853, these problems, along with the pressure of increased waterfront commerce—mercantile industries objected to dock space being tied up for non-commercial use—and rising maintenance costs, resulted in the boat’s sale.

Oh, but it glorious while it lasted! The floating church even inspired a hymn or two. Read about the Floating Church of the Redeemer at Hidden City Philadelphia. -via Metafilter

(Image source: Library Company of Philadelphia)


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