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Bishop William Bacon Stevens founds the Philadelphia Protestant Episcopal City Mission on May 1, 1870.


The five-county Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania is created with the City of Philadelphia as its centerpiece.

In Context

Locally: Founding of Temple University (1874), Philadelphia Zoo (1874), Philadelphia Museum of Art (1876), and Wanamakers (1876); Philadelphia hosts U.S. Centennial Exposition, the first World's Fair (1876).

Nationally: Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone (1876); Thomas Edison gives first public demonstration of light bulb (1879).


Home for Consumptives is established in Chestnut Hill to address increasing need for tuberculosis treatment.

In Context

Locally: Chestnut Street first illuminated with the electric light from the Delaware to the Schuylkill (1881).

Nationally: Tuskegee Institute opens under leadership of Booker T. Washington (1881); Jane Addams founds Hull House in Chicago (1889).


City Mission establishes James C. Smith Memorial Home at Oakburne in Chester County for care of sick women.


City Mission establishes "Family War Relief" to provide longer-term assistance to families of those serving in the Spanish-American War. The name "Family Relief" remains associated with longer-term relief efforts at the City Mission after the war ends.

In Context

Locally: The first Penn Relays are held (1895). The population of the City of Philadelphia is 1 million (1900).

Nationally: Financial Panic (1893); U.S. Supreme Court upholds "separate but equal" in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).



Regular program of prison ministry with City Mission chaplains is established at Eastern State Penitentiary.


The City Mission moves to the Old St. Paul's Church building at 225 South 3rd Street.

In Context

Locally: Philadelphia City Hall with statue of William Penn becomes tallest building in City (1901); Penn School of Social Work founded (1908); Philadelphia trolley strike, general strike and related riots (1909-10).


Society for the Promotion of Church Work Among the Blind, originally a Diocesan program, comes under City Mission auspices.


The City Mission struggles to respond to the overwhelming need created by the Great Depression, which was triggered by the "Black Tuesday" stock market crash.


The City Mission begins to organize foster care, leading to establishment of Episcopal Children's Service.

In Context

Locally: Benjamin Franklin Parkway is completed and Ben Franklin Bridge opens (1926); Al Capone serves time at Eastern State Penitentiary and Graterford (1929-30).

Nationally: "Black Tuesday" stock market crash, triggering the Great Depression (1929).



When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office, New Deal policies change the nature of relief work performed by private agencies like the City Mission, leading to the modern social work and government partnership.

In Context

Locally: Opening of PSFS building (1932); and Philadelphia's 30th Street Station (1933).

Nationally: Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at Berlin Olympics (1936)


The City Mission offers Family Counseling through the 50s, offering such services as marriage counseling and elderly supports.


In line with the development of modern social work, the City Mission officially changes its name to "Episcopal Community Services of the Diocese of Pennsylvania."

In Context

Locally: Construction of Interstate 95 in Pennsylvania begins (1959).

Nationally: U.S. Supreme Court rules "separate but equal" unconstitutional, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson, in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).



Episcopal Fellowship of St. Dismas established at Holmesburg prison.


Tuberculosis facility in Chestnut Hill becomes All Saints Hospital.

In Context

Locally: Race riots take place in Philadelphia (1964); Independence Mall is completed (1967); Le Bec-Fin opens in Philadelphia (1970).

Nationally: Great Society programs are launched by President Lyndon B. Johnson with the goal of eliminating poverty and racial injustice (1964-65); the Voting Rights Act of 1965 becomes law; Thurgood Marshall becomes first African-American Supreme Court justice (1967); Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy are assassinated (1968); Stonewall Uprising in New York City (1969); U.S. Department of Environmental Protection created (1970).


ECS establishes office in Strawberry Mansion section of Philadelphia.


Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare introduces a new service called Services to Children in their Own Homes which becomes part of ECS's services to children.

In Context

Locally: The Pennsylvania Constitution is amended to ensure that equal rights cannot be denied on the basis of sex (1971).


ECS develops specialty in medical case management during the 80s.


ECS merges with Mercer Memorial Home and uses the Mercer endowment to begin Home Care services for the elderly.


Burd endowment released to ECS for programs serving underserved children in Philadelphia.


ECS establishes the Parent Child Resource Center at Graterford.


ECS celebrates renovations of Old St. Paul's building.


ECS is awarded City's first contract to provide homemaker and transportation services for people with AIDS.

In Context

Locally: MOVE bombing in Philadelphia (1985); One Liberty Places becomes tallest building in Philadelphia (1987).

Nationally: Sandra Day O'Connor becomes first woman justice on the Supreme Court (1981).



The Parent Child Resource Center at Graterford becomes an independent nonprofit, Inmate Family Services, Inc.


ECS merges with St. Barnabas Mission in West Philadelphia.

In Context

Locally: Pennsylvania Convention Center opens (1993).

Nationally: President Bill Clinton signs Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, commonly referred to as Welfare Reform (1996); Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) begins (1997).


ECS begins Beacon Program, which later develops into Out of School Time.


Urban Bridges adult literacy program at St. Gabriel's comes under the auspices of ECS.


Permanent housing program begins serving 28 families in 2005, and expands to 42 families.

In Context

Locally: The population of the City of Philadelphia is 1.529 million (2010).

Nationally: Barack Obama is the first African-American elected President of the United States (2008).


ECS acquires Dolphins of the Delaware Valley; partners with Diocese to launch The Darby Mission; and ECS begins STEAM-based curriculum in Out of School Time.


ECS acquires Community Outreach Partnership.

In Context

Locally: Philadelphia named the Nation's first World Heritage City (2015).