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History of Episcopal Community Services

A Legacy of Progress

Our roots run deep in both the Episcopal community and the field of social work.

On May 1, 1870 (147 years ago this week), Bishop William Bacon Stevens founded Episcopal Community Services—then known as the Philadelphia Protestant Episcopal City Mission—to coordinate the outreach work of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, which was soon after established as the five-county Diocese it is today.

Through the years, ECS has adapted itself to provide services to those needing help the most. Early on, assistance meant providing material aid to those facing financial difficulties—coal, groceries, and clothing were common forms of aid. For individuals experiencing homelessness, clergy would provide spiritual comfort and connection to nearby parishes. And when care was needed by impoverished sufferers of tuberculosis, ECS provided treatment.

As time went on, advances were made, but new crises emerged. Through the Spanish-American War, the Great Depression, World War II, to modern-day time, ECS has continuously transformed itself to answer societal calls.

Services have included maintaining prison ministries, caring for the blind, connecting foster children to loving families, supporting patients during the AIDS epidemic, providing home care for seniors, to name a few. All of which have helped shape ECS into the agency it is today—one that challenges the effects of poverty experienced by far too many in our community.

You see, responsible evolution is a part of our legacy. And we encourage you to scroll through that legacy here on our History page, where our 147 years of service are featured, decade by decade.